I challenge you to go to Google Scholar and use keywords having to do with food and mental health and not get more than 500,000 search results including some hundred-or-so-thousand from the last 20 years.
There is a distinct and irrevocable correlation between what we place in our stomach and what goes on in our brain that has been studied, at length, and yet there is a key piece that I find to be missing. Similar to how ex-religious tend to say that the notion of being a Child of God had no personal meaning I think the correlation between food and brain also lacks personal meaning... a practicality is lost somewhere in the interpretation. When we try to incorporate these things into our lives we get the overwhelming sense that something is missing and then simply lose the motivation to carry forward.
When I talk about food and mental health to my clients I try to provide practical options and make the push more real through several steps but ultimately nothing takes hold without relevance. For example: Goal Setting exercises. I, like many other therapists, use SMART Goal exercises. The goals are laid out and explained under the categories of Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Losing weight is a fantastic goal but if it carries no practical meaning you will end up using that 3 month gym membership for a week. Equally, eating healthy can be motivating and exciting for a few days and then you're off the wagon and back to making gourmet frozen dinners.
There are three aspects that I find important to practical, goal-set, relevant healthy eating:
1) What is in the food doesn't matter! Counting calories and eliminating certain foods from your diet are strenuous and unnecessary unless for a specific and diagnosed health concern (ie. removing gluten because of an allergy or inefficiency of your body to metabolize it). What matters is how you cook it (baked vs. fried), how much you eat (portion control: stop filling the plate), and how fast you eat it (it takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to relay the "Full" message to your brain).
2) Variety really is the spice of life! There are amazing websites and social media attention paid to changing up your eating routine. Tasty is a foodie's dream page on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and alike, posting short videos and full recipes of some awesome dishes. Supercook has quickly become a favourite site of mine for showing recipes based on what you already have in the home and you can create an account to track recipes and so much more.
3) Cook for others! Many of you reading this page have one or both of: Having heard that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach (works on women, too); or, have a significant other in your life either who you have wooed enough to start dating or who you want to woo. Cooking for others is a great way to socialize, learn portions, make something new, and (hopefully) build confidence.
Food is not the enemy.
Just a way to get a few thoughts across outside of the office. In this blog you may even find entries that assist in your healing without needing a session