Heartland Behavioral Health Services- Diet & Mental Health Pt. 2- July 22, 2014

By Alan Matthews

Published 07/22 2014 09:56AM

Updated 07/22 2014 10:00AM

Nutritional tricks for impacting our health and mental health:

Don’t’ forget the kids!

It’s hard to believe that in less than a month our children will be stuffing their backpacks full of school supplies and heading back to school. We are more than mid-way through the summer and the excitement of summer is starting to wear off. So this is the perfect time to get ourselves and our kids on track with healthy eating and nutrition.

Healthy eating on a budget
A healthy diet can be more expensive. Fish, fruit and vegetables can be particularly pricey. However, by cutting down on sugary drinks and snacks, processed frozen meals, fast food and alcohol, you can save money so you can buy healthier foods.
Consider buying products at farmer’s markets and off of corner stands-they are fresher with more nutrients and tend to be most cost effective-especially by the end of the day.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are usually cheapest when they are in season.
Beans and lentils are also cheaper than meat and just as nutritious.

Reduce your use of refined foods.
Eat fewer high sugar foods and more wholegrain cereals, nuts, beans, lentils, fruit and vegetables. Sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. This may cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy that soon wears off as the body increases its insulin production, leaving us feeling tired and low. Wholegrain cereals, fruit and vegetables are more filling and, because the sugar in these foods is absorbed more slowly, don’t cause mood swings.
Slowly integrate into your children’s diets, try to swap out white bread for wheat bread a few times a week-hopefully by the time school starts you will be making sandwiches on whole wheat and or pita bread.
Substitute your “regulars” with lighter or less sugar added versions-keep an eye on the sugar content and grams
Sneak in some fresh spinach with your iceberg lettuce salad
If you cook in oil, try to use olive oil, coconut oil
Goal should be five servings of fruits and/or veggies each day
The fresher and less cooked the better-vegetables will retain their nutrients by not being over cooked
Be the all-star at your next cookout-bring fruit kabobs, angel food cake and strawberries/cool whip instead of cake, whole wheat crackers and hummus instead of chips and dip, or fresh salsa and flaxseed chips.

Plan regular meals and portion control.
Set up a menu for the week of at least dinner each evening. Get the kids involved with meal planning and preparation.
When planning meals ensure that protein, vegetable/fruit and grains are part of it.
Take advantage of summer and grilling season
Portion control: consider eating your meals on a salad size plate

Maintain adequate fluid intake.
Not drinking enough fluid has significant implications for mental health. The early effects of even mild dehydration can affect our feelings and behavior. THIS IS MOST IMPORTANT DURING THE REMAINING HOT SUMMER MONTHS AND FOR THOSE INDIVIDUALS WHO TAKE MEDICATIONS
Coffee, sodas and tea all contain caffeine, which for some people can boost energy levels. However, in large quantities caffeine can increase blood pressure, anxiety, depressive symptoms and sleep problems.
If you do take drinks with caffeine in them, try to limit yourself to just 3–4 cups per day. Studies are showing that caffeine in marginal doses can assist with mood and does not have hugely aversive effects.
Water and flavored waters are a great way to get your water intake and still taste great. Start your family off with a small glass of water each meal, move to milk for children.

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