Self-Care: Can What You Eat or Drink Affect Your Mental Health?

Practicing Self-Care

Practicing self-care is about nurturing your well-being. Eating well, getting enough rest, and drinking plenty of water are great ways to take care of your body. You also want to be sure you are caring for your emotional and spiritual needs, too. That could mean meeting with a faith community, meditating, or talking with a counselor. No matter what your self-care routine, nurturing yourself is a great choice.

There’s no way I can look at a person and say, “This is where the body ends, and the emotions begin”. That’s because everything is connected. The mind, the brain, the body, and the spirit: they are all a part of you. How you treat one part of you impacts how the others feel. So, it’s no surprise that some studies have shown that what you eat, or drink can have an impact on your mental health.

Healthy Food for a Healthy Mind

Getting hungry? Here’s a list of foods with nutrients that scientists have found improve your cognitive function, energy level, and other factors that can sharpen your mental health.

NutrientFound inHelps With
Omega-3sWalnuts, olive oil, leafy greens, oily fishMood stabilizing, inflammation
Vitamin DMilk, cheese, orange juice, salmonDepression symptoms, teeth and bone health
FolateLeafy green vegetables (like kale and spinach)Depression risk, prenatal health, eye health/vision

Food and Drink as Self-Care

I know that “healthy eating” does not mean depriving myself of food in order to manipulate or control my body. But how do I strike a balance between saying “no” to some things and still enjoying my favorite foods?

It helps me to think of food as part of my self-care. When it comes to building up, nurturing, and strengthening my body, not all food and drinks are created equal. Some are more nutritious, energizing, and restorative than others— and those are the ones I should focus on. It’s okay for me to treat myself now and then, but moderation is key. I don’t want to have “too much of a good thing”— like loading up on sugar or carbohydrates—only to crash and feel sluggish a short time later.

What I eat is part of my spiritual care, too. The Bible calls my body “a temple” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). God created it for my use and His glory, and He cares about what I put into it. I only get one body. It’s important that I do my best to take good care of it, with God’s help.

A Healthier Relationship with Food and Drink

If you have a history of struggles with food-addictive behaviors (including eating disorders) or have damaged your mind and body with drugs and alcohol, you may feel intimidated by the thought of changing what you eat or drink.

I want to encourage you that no one is ever beyond reach when it comes to grace, healing, and transformation. Working with a doctor or nutritionist can go a long way toward helping you feel more comfortable with what you eat and drink by giving you a “meal plan” that fits exactly what your body needs.

Of course, it’s not enough to switch up behaviors; your mindset has to change, too. But that doesn’t have to be a lonely process. Support is available now from a HopeCoach, email mentor or prayer partner. We are here to talk with you about food, body image, or whatever struggles you feel are impacting your mental health.

You can start healing your mind and your body – and we are here to cheer you on. If you feel worn out and down about life, please read this blog with tips to boost your mental health.  

Dawson McAllister
Dawson McAllister, also known as America's youth pastor, was an author, radio host, speaker, and founder of TheHopeLine. McAllister attended Bethel College in Minnesota for undergraduate work where he graduated in 1968, began graduate studies at Talbot School of Theology in California, and received an honorary doctorate from Biola University.
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