Around the world, Mother’s Day is usually celebrated in the month of May. But did you know that May is also Mental Health Awareness month?
I became a mother almost 12 years ago and while it has been a crazy fun ride for most of the time I admit it also has its challenges. That’s why I wasn’t surprised to learn that the month of May celebrates mothers and at the same time raises awareness for mental health.
Last year I stumbled across research that stated moms are way more stressed than dads. In the words of the researchers, “Moms ‘report less happiness, more stress, and greater fatigue’ in the time they spend with their children than do fathers.”
This makes complete sense when you consider how much juggling we as mothers do to make sure our families are safe and healthy. But what about stress and happiness?
Over the years I have learnt that different types of foods can heal, reduce anxiety, and help boost our mood. So to combat the daily stresses of life and to bolster my family’s mental health I started to look at our diet more closely.
Food and Mental Health
Research has proven that foods play a big part in our overall health. Food that is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and DHA has a positive effect on our mood and reduces anxiety. Many of these healing foods can be easily incorporated into our daily diet and will eventually help us lead happier and healthier lives. So here goes.
5 Foods That Make Us Feel Good
- Raw nuts, in particular walnuts and almonds. These are one of the richest dietary sources of serotonin. Yes, that very same chemical that our body needs to maintain mood balance. I was unsure about starting my list off with these powerhouses of health since so many of us have nut allergies but for the people who are able to eat nuts – “Go ahead, they are good for you.”
- Coffee. No I didn’t sneak it in because I love coffee. I do but that’s a story for another time. Coffee naturally comes chock full of antioxidants that can help our bodies and minds heal. Even the smell of this aromatic bean can help diminish stress. There’s more good news – decaf coffee has almost the same level of nutritional benefit as regular coffee!
- Broccoli. This delicious often underrated vegetable is one of the most popular with my kids partly because of the way I cook it. While all antioxidants are good for our brains, broccoli is especially effective. It’s a concentrated source of Vitamin C and has been found to be a great way to reverse the aging of the brain.
- Pomegranate. The juice of this odd-looking seed-packed fruit is known to lower blood pressure, anxiety, and depression. While I am not a fan of peeling this fruit because of the mess I’m left with, I do know that the bowl of goodness will last a couple of days. Use pomegranate seeds in your salads, and on top of that early morning granola. It’s delicious!
- Salmon. Seafood like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines comes naturally packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These are powerful nutrients that are essential for a healthy, happy mind especially in light of the research that indicates people who are depressed have low levels of DHA. Fish oil contains very high quantities of DHA and it’s found in oily fish like salmon. That’s why it’s recommended for people who need a mental boost. And with the crazy week I’ve had I really should add it to my grocery list this week.
Puneeta Chhitwal-Varma is a writer, marketer and mom of two. She lives in Toronto with her husband and is constantly seeking out ways to make life healthy, delicious and enjoyable. Her blog, Maple and Marigold is her love letter to their life and travels. Maple represents Canada and their life here, and marigold with its colour and significance in Indian traditions represents her roots in India.
A seasoned marketer and a global citizen, Puneeta has lived and worked in India, Dubai, Calgary and Toronto. Through her writing she is building a community that brings people together over family, food, wellness, and is helping parents make happy, healthy choices.