Food and mental health. Collating your responses part 2!

Hey readers, it’s Maddy here again!

After last weeks blog post on exercise and mental health, I was keen to do another collaborative blog post with the Mind Waves Instagram followers.

First of all, I would like to say thank you for your eloquent and honest responses. I feel lucky to have a job where I can explore topics that I have a genuine interest in, as well as collaborating with you guys. Like with last weeks responses, you guys gave me a lot to think about.

I asked the question: ‘When your mental health is bad, does your relationship with food change?’ The two choices for answers were ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Like last time, the result was pretty conclusive, 23 people voted ‘yes’ and one person voted ‘no’.

Then I opened up the space for questions by asking you to tell me more about your relationship with food/body image/dieting in relation to mental health.

A few responses discussed a lack of appetite when they were dealing with stress or poor mental health. This highlights the vicious cycle of mental health that I discussed in the blog post last week. Eating regular meals or snacks keeps your blood sugar levels balanced and low blood sugar can lead to low mood and irritability. (NHS Scotland) During a poor mental health period (and all of the time) it is important to fuel your body with food but this can feel impossible. This is comparable to the findings of last weeks post on the relationship between mental health and exercise. We all know that it helps- but it is hard to keep up with healthy routines when our mental health is bad.

Most of your responses confessed to craving ‘unhealthy’ and ‘junk’ foods during a patch of bad mental health. This can lead to feelings of guilt or shame that perpetuates negative feelings and bad mental health. This highlights an interesting link between morality and food, an idea that foods can be inherently ‘good’ or ‘bad’ from a moral perspective.

Food is just food- it fuels us and keeps us functioning. Although a healthy, balanced diet is recommended by medical professionals, there is a lot of dispute over what a ‘healthy diet’ actually entails. A healthy diet for me might look different to a healthy diet for you, but I believe that restriction and moral labelling of food is never healthy. Everything in moderation including moderation. My final findings from this research and resulting blog post is similar to last week with a small addition; be kind to yourself when you’re struggling and eat a chocolate bar if you want one.

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you’re enjoying this series of collaborative blog posts by messaging us on Instagram at @mindwaves_scot


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