From the time we are born, eating offers us comfort, warmth and fulfillment. Throughout our lives, there are traditions built around food for family gatherings and special occasions. Food plays the essential role of providing the nutrition our bodies need, but it can also become a source of distress when we unintentionally practice overindulgence or abstention.
No one means to develop an eating disorder. Often it is the result of deeply rooted emotional distress that has no release other than our bodies trying to find relief and comfort. We may do this through unhealthy eating, or for that matter, through chemical dependency, shopping addictions or other detrimental outlets. Disturbances in eating behavior are probably the easiest habit to gain control of our actions because eating is second nature, it is necessary, and food is readily available.
Eating healthy foods ensures that our bodies have adequate energy to function and focus. Unfortunately, the foods we crave when we are distressed, especially those high in sugar and carbs, have little nutritional value. They can even exacerbate symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness and fatigue, and cause an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol.
While foods are not a cure for mental illness, there are foods that have been found to help lessen symptoms such as anxiety, stress, insomnia, anger and irritability, and lack of motivation, focus, concentration, memory and appetite. Mentalhealthy.co.uk offers a Mind Food Series on “Food for Good Mental Health” that lists what foods offer the nutrients needed to alleviate specific mental illness symptoms. For example, the magnesium in pumpkin seeds and the Vitamin B3/B6 in squash have been found to help decrease symptoms of depression.
The nutritionist on staff at Brookhaven Retreat will help design meals for you that are healthy for body, mind and soul. Healthy eating is an integral part of the self-care that begins your healing journey and is just one of the dimensions of Brookhaven Retreat’s holistic approach to therapy.