How nutrition can help
October 09th 2017
As part of World Mental Health Week, we are taking a look at the things that can help us feel better and of course, taking care of our bodies by way of what we eat, is important to that. Lisa Dunbar is a Nutrition and Health Coach, who's mental health journey led to her changing her career path - and she hasn't looked back!
“I’m so done with this body! It’s broken. I just want a new one!” This was the most frequent thought I had in 2015, the year my physical and mental health hit rock bottom. I mean, don’t ask me where I thought this new body was going to come from, but that didn’t stop me wishing like crazy for it anyway!
To cut a VERY long story short, years of stress, medication, a terrible diet and generally just not looking after myself had come to a very ugly head! For several months, I suffered with debilitating nausea, diarrhoea and light-headedness. Hypochondria convinced me I was dying from a mystery illness. I developed crippling anxiety and intense claustrophobia, my sick body being the unpleasant small space that I just couldn’t escape from…hence my futile wishes for a new body!
I became a shadow of my former self and kept waiting and wishing for someone else to “fix me”. All the while I was actually doing nothing to help myself. Thankfully, it dawned on me that if I wanted to feel better (and I REALLY wanted to feel better!), I had to at least try to do something about it for myself.
One of the (many!) things I did was study nutrition. I learned so much about my body and food and how what I eat has an effect on how my body works and how I feel, physically and mentally. I had been so angry with my body, feeling like it was failing me. But it was so humbling to realise that, in many ways, I had actually been failing my body by not giving it the very simple things it needed to work properly.
We often see food simply as fuel, the thing that makes our body ‘go’ or ‘work’, like putting petrol in our car. But it does so much more than that! The type of food we eat determines how well (or not!) our body works. Think about it - how well does your petrol car work if you fill the tank with diesel, the wrong type of fuel!? The type of fuel our bodies need to work at their best, physically and mentally, is a diet filled with nourishing wholefoods – vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and minimally processed meat and dairy.
I’ve come to learn that whether you are dealing with physical or mental health difficulties, or to be honest, just generally trying to deal with modern everyday life, an unhealthy diet can be such an unnecessary burden on your body, suppressing your immunity, zapping your energy, killing your mood.
Did my bad diet alone cause my mental health difficulties? Nope. Was improving my diet the one single thing that helped me to recover? Not at all. Has a healthy diet completely cured my anxiety? Of course not. But has improving my diet had a major life-changing impact on how I feel physically and mentally every day? Absolutely, without a doubt, 100% YES!
Follow Lisa on Facebook to get daily and weekly tips, recipes and insights on how to maintain a healthy balance when it comes to nutrition. If you feel like you are struggling to manage with your own diet, reach out for a chat with an adult you trust or your GP.