Eating Foods that May Support Mental Health


Eating Foods that May Support Mental Health

Helping everyone in the BIG family stay well means putting time in at BIG and taking care of other aspects of our lives. Recently, Tina shared a Wall Street Journal article with me about mounting evidence that eating nutrient dense foods, especially those that are part of a Mediterranean diet, may help support mental health. Fortunately, these are also foods that are antioxidant-rich and fantastic for hard working bodies!

What kind of foods are we talking about?

  • Half of each meal is vegetables and whole fruits (without added sugar). Deeply colored leafy greens (kale, spinach, chard) are terrific to include regularly as are a variety of other colors of vegetables and fruits throughout the week.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil is a good choice. Canola oil or avocado can also be included. These fats also help you feel satisfied.
  • Nuts offer fat and protein and are recommended daily.
  • Protein food choices are:
    • Lean animal sources, not fried, approximately the size of your smart phone, and include seafood (eg, salmon, tuna, lake trout, shrimp, mussels, clams) because they contain omega-3 fatty acids. Small, occasional portions of red meat are acceptable.
    • Non-animal sources of protein are also encouraged (eg, legumes, beans, and nuts).
  • Dairy options, such as, yogurt and a limited amount of cheese can be included.
  • Whole grains (eg, brown rice, farro, barley, quinoa, whole wheat) are best because refined grains do not offer sustained energy or as many nutrients and fiber. This category also includes nutrient and fiber-rich starchy vegetables like butternut squash, sweet potatoes, peas, and corn.

What about packaged, processed food?

These are best included sometimes rather than daily because of their limited nutrient content. It is good reminder that it is an overall pattern of eating that matters. In other words, thank goodness each day does not need to be perfect!

Eating a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean protein foods, dairy, and healthy fats will fuel you for WODs and may even be beneficial for your mental health!

Happy and healthful eating,


Donna G. Pertel, MEd, RD, LDN