Flavor Meets Function….Eating Well for Mental Health

It’s common knowledge that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is recommended for optimal physical health. We have all heard about food groups, pyramids, and the benefits of eating fresh fruits and vegetables since elementary school. But did you know that good nutrition also affects our mental health? When you are eating well, a healthy diet can help you feel more alert and think clearly. It can also improve concentration and attention span and help minimize the impact of stress. In fact, it’s worth noting that the opposite is also true: a poor diet can aggravate a host of issues and can increase impacts of stress and depression.

According to the American Dietetic Association, people tend to either eat too much or too little when depressed or under stress. Eating too much will result in feeling sluggish and eventual weight gain. Eating too little can increase exhaustion, making this a hard habit to break. In either case, poor diet during periods of stress and/or depression only makes matters worse.

Your brain and nervous system depend on nutrition to build new proteins, cells and tissues. In order to function effectively, your body requires a variety of carbohydrates, proteins and minerals. To boost your mental health, experts suggest eating plenty of fruits and vegetables along with foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon. Dark green leafy vegetables in particular are brain protective. Nuts, seeds and legumes, such as beans and lentils, are also excellent brain foods. Food groups to include in a ‘brain healthy’ diet are many of the same recommended for overall healthy eating. They include Complex carbohydrates — such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, beets, sweet potatoes and other starchy vegetables; Lean proteins — such as chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts and seeds; and Fatty acids — crucial for the proper function of your brain and nervous system, find them in fish, meat, eggs, nuts and flaxseeds.

This week at Oliver’s Market, we are celebrating the foods and nutritional supplements that are especially great to include in your diet for optimal physical and mental health. Many of these are great options for creating a pantry of healthy food to set yourself up for success in healthy living this year:

  • Rosie Organic Whole Chicken, Local, $2.49/Lb.
  • Lake Champlain Chocolate Bars, 3-3.25 oz. Package, Selected Varieties, $3.49
  • VOLO Chocolate, Local ‘bean to bar’; Selected Varieties. 2.5 oz. Bar $6.99
  • Wolf Coffee, Selected Varieties, 12 oz. Package, $8.99
  • Enzo California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Selected Varieties, 500ml Bottle, $16.99
  • Clover Sonoma Organic Omega-3 Eggs, Local, 1 dozen, $4.99
  • Toninno Tuna, Selected Varieties, 4.94 oz. Can, 2 for $4
  • Nutiva Coconut Oil, Selected Varieties, 14 oz. Jar, $6.49
  • Nancy’s Organic Kefir, Selected Varieties, 8 oz. Container, $0.99
  • Bulk Red Quinoa, $1.99/lb.
  • Bulk Organic Rolled Oats, $0.99/lb.
  • Bulk Organic Raw Cashews, $5.99/lb.
  • Bulk Organic Golden Flax, $1.69/lb.
  • Natural Factors Gaba Calm Chewable Tablets, 60 Ct. $23.99
  • Onnit Alpha Brain Instant, Single Serving Packet, $2.29
  • Nordic Naturals Algae Omega, 60 Ct. Soft Gel Bottle, $21.99
  • Fresh Bunched Spinach, California Grown, $1.49/ea.
  • Organic Broccoli Crowns, Grown by Josie’s California, $1.99/lb.
  • Organic Sweet Potatoes, Grown by Atwater Farm in California, $1.29/lb.

(Please note: Prices are in effect from January 12-18 at all four Oliver’s Market locations.)

Here are some useful tips for healthy eating supporting both mind and body:

  • Steer clear of processed snack foods, such as potato chips, which can impair your ability to concentrate. Pass up sugar-filled snacks, such as candy and soft drinks, which lead to ups and downs in energy levels.
  • Consume plenty of healthy fats, such as olive oil, coconut oil and avocado. This will support your brain function.
  • Have a healthy snack when hunger strikes, such as fruit, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, baked sweet potatoes or edamame. This will give you more energy than packaged products.
  • Develop a healthy shopping list and stick to it.
  • Don’t shop while hungry, since you’ll be more apt to make unhealthy impulse purchases.
  • Think about where and when you eat. Don’t eat in front of the television, which can be distracting and cause you to overeat. Instead, find a place to sit, relax and really notice what you’re eating. Chew slowly. Savor the taste and texture.

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