Mental Health Wellbeing and diet

Mental Health Wellbeing and diet

~Jane Whitehead

mental health blog 01

We live in a busy, busy world. All our gadgets to help us save time have not really worked that well. They break for a start, or become archaic in just a couple of years rendering them useless which means, of course, that you have to keep working to save for a replacement. Moreover, modern technology ensures that unless you have a degree in engineering, you can’t fix it yourself either.

Mind you, I’m not keen to go back to washing ‘the husbands’ smalls in a copper and washing machines are the only pieces of modern equipment that I am truly grateful for. The rest of the gear is great while it is new and working properly.

What the hell has this got to do with food you may well ask? It can be very stressful and particularly for some of us who are more ‘mature’ and not born with an iPad in our hands. In some areas of technology it is not a matter of ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, if you don’t buy the latest you just can’t use anything at all. I had an old brick of a mobile phone for years, it served its purpose as a phone, and I was happy but when the second battery finally died there were no new batteries to buy. The phone was outdated thus the batteries were too so there was no need to keep making them. I had to upgrade to a new phone.

Food; ok. We work harder and for longer hours than ever before. These days both adults in the family unit work which means that household chores need to be shared with the whole family. When we are pushed for time and busy, working late, studying, children’s extracurricular needs and so on our families can suffer. It can be difficult to maintain a routine meal time with all the family present which means losing out on vital family connectedness.

I have mentioned in previous blogs that meal times should be an enjoyable experience for families. Sometimes that can be hard to do. We need to shift our thinking about shopping, preparing and cooking meals. All of the household need to be responsible and involved in the process.

Shopping at markets is fun, the atmosphere is relaxed and friendly and by and large cheaper than the local supermarkets. Taking your kids shopping at the market is a saner option than taking them to the supermarket.

Get active in the garden and start growing your own fruit and vegetables. Herbs are a good place to start. They are the most expensive produce per kilo in the shop and so easy to grow yourself. I have grown them in broccoli boxes along with capsicum and spinach. It will fit easily on a balcony space to boot. If kids are involved in gardening they are outside, active and accomplishing something which is great for their sense of worth and self-esteem. Enquire about local community gardens. Your local council should be able to guide you.

Cooking: kids love cooking and just think; when they are old enough you can kick back and let them take control. The rule in our house was, ‘whoever cooked did not have to do the dishes.’ That got our son keen to cook that is for sure. Weekends can be a time where more complex or time consuming meals can be cooked up and stored in the fridge or freezer for the weeknights that are hectic. Baking on the weekend for school lunches saves time during the week as well. Market shopping and cook ups on the weekend are a lot more relaxing and you have the time to be creative. My sister even made up all the bread-rolls for the week on a Sunday to save time during the week.

Shopping in a friendly environment, cooking while relaxed, spending time as a family, being outside in the garden, going fishing all contribute to mental health and wellbeing. If we are feeling stressed and under pressure we are more likely to eat the wrong foods or skip meals which contribute to mood swings, anxiety and depression.

There is increasing research looking at food and mental health. Not surprisingly healthy fresh food and a balanced diet promote sound mental health.

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