By now we are all aware that eating five fruits and vegetables is good for us; some people are intolerant to dairy and/ or gluten and/ or wheat; and, pretty much, all delicious food is bad for us. Is there anything more heartbreaking? We try to follow these rules as best as we can, but have you ever stopped to think how this might be affecting your mental health?
It’s no secret that social media can affect your mental health – the FOMO, the ‘am I doing well enough in my life?”, the “why don’t I have that?” Think about just how many influencers you see in teeny tiny outfits with *the* flattest stomachs – yet we also see them eating a double cheeseburger and fries every night. Somehow, those two things just don’t add up. How do they manage to eat what they want without gaining a single pound? Honestly, your guess is as good as ours. It’s probably right to assume that a lot of them have personal trainers who cost hundreds of pounds each month. Which is, yet again, something that is unrealistic to us normal folk. No wonder our mental health is being affected – perhaps even unknowingly – when we see this every single day.
Although, it’s also unrealistic to think that someone can eat super clean every day of their lives. Yes it may have its benefits such as making us feel better on the inside; making us look better on the outside – hello clear skin! But trying to keep that up when there are temptations all around may actually have a negative affect on your mental health. When all of your friends are having a pizza night and you have to sit there with a protein shake or maybe just water can be so negative to our mental state. Is there anything better than eating that pizza you’ve been craving? That burger? That (whole) tub of Ben & Jerry’s? Yes, there probably is, but it does feel SO good at the time.
Researchers have seen that having a cheat day once a week can actually help you eat cleaner during the week. Knowing you have that day when you can eat anything you want is motivational and good for your mental health. Does that mean that the answer is having a balance then? I think we all know that it is. Like a lot of things in life though, that is easier said than done. How much is enough that it’s a treat, but isn’t too much that it will ruin the progress you made during the week and you end up back at square one with your mental health at rock bottom?
If there’s anything that can be learnt from this, it’s that there needs to be a greater education on food. Serving sizes, portion control, what a “healthy” diet is. They always say that knowledge is power and in this case it is 100% true. The more we know, the more we can control what we are putting in our bodies, which, of course, has a positive affect on our mental health.