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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kat Demps

April 1, 2023 Culinary Nutrition and Mental Health

Culinary Nutrition and Mental Health

Something that can tend to get overlooked when it comes to our mental health and emotional well-being, is that our nutrition and diet play a huge role in it whether we realize it or not.

It should make sense that what we are putting into our bodies can also have an impact on our mental health. Good health essentially means a condition of well-being.


Eating to feel good

The direct link between your diet and your emotions comes from the relationship between the brain and your gastrointestinal tract which can also be referred to as your second brain. When we eat foods that are healthy and full of nutrition, it promotes the growth of good bacteria. When we are producing more of the good chemicals, our brain receives the positive message very clear and our mental state is able to reflect back from this. At the same time if the production of these good chemicals is going south, your mood might as well. A perfect example of this would be sugar. Sugar causes inflammation and feeds bad bacteria into our GI tracts. It can also put a pause from our brain receiving the feel-good chemicals, which then results in a crash and a bad mood.


Keeping a diet mostly filled of nutritional and health foods is the best recipe for success. It will decrease our mood swings, bring better focus, and overall better emotional health. Focusing mainly on whole and unprocessed foods can definitely help if you are one who struggles with depression and anxiety. Unhealthy diets filled with sugar and processed foods can even lead to risks of dementia or strokes.


What to eat

Some foods to keep in mind when trying to keep a healthy diet include whole foods, antioxidants, fiber, folate, magnesium, vitamin D, and fermented foods. You might find these things in foods such as salmon, leafy greens, mushrooms, nuts, bananas, beans, kombucha, and more.


How to do it

It may seem like extra work or a struggle for some to start incorporating healthy foods into your diet if you are not used to doing so yet. You should not feel pressured to make a complete change right away, but instead slowly start switching up your diet by incorporating new foods, taking the bad things out, and swapping certain foods for new ones.


You can make a grocery list at the beginning of each week, plan your grocery shopping trips, and even meal prep to help keep you on track. It is important to not skip meals, but instead to just be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Staying hydrated and drinking water is a good one as well.



Depending on how many changes you make and how fast, it may take weeks or months before you start feeling the overall effects in your mental health, but just know that great things are coming and change does not happen overnight. As time goes on and you are keeping healthy habits, you will start to see the positive changes both mentally and physically.


Need help?

For more information about culinary nutrition and mental health, be sure to follow us on Facebook or pick up your copy of Cooking To Heal Book today!

Author: Natalie Braslau, Dr. Love's Integrative

Nutrition & Lifestyle Medicine Intern

Editors: Keith & Kat Demps

Guest blog from Cooking to Heal Book:

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