Food that can help with mental health, clarity, and happiness.
Written by Lara Hogan, originally published in Dote Magazine Issue 8
Earlier this year, after taking the necessary steps I needed to recover from postpartum depression, I began to ask myself: “how am I modelling mental health practices to my daughter? How can I teach her to care about her mental health as much as I try and model physical health care?”
In a world obsessed with diet culture, constantly telling us what we should eat and do to be slimmer and thinner, I started thinking: what if the foods I eat and serve to my family, as well as the habits and routines I practice, could improve my family’s attitude, level of joy, peace, and overall mental health? What if we switched focus and instead of reducing calories in hopes that slimmer waistline will make us feel happier, we started eating and acting in ways that are beneficial to our mental health and overall attitudes?
In the quest to learn about how to nurture the body to take care of the mind, I reached out to Kori Leigh Hagel, holistic nutritionist, life coach, and author. We started a conversation about the process of reprogramming how we can think about mental health and what each one of us can do to combat mental illness head on. So, how can we achieve optimal mental health, and can we eat ourselves happy?
Kori says we definitely can change the way we feel through the foods we eat. We are, as the saying goes, what we eat. In fact, Kori started researching what she calls the brain-gut connection over ten years ago while in a very dark period of her life, riddled with depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, and suicidal thoughts she attempted to leave a deeply unhealthy relationship. In her research, she discovered that sensitivities to gluten, dairy, and eggs - all of which she had been eating her whole life - were having a detrimental impact on her gut and, consequently, mental health. Kori continued to educate herself and now teaches her clients as a holistic nutritionist that the gut has more neurotransmitters than the brain, and that it is also said to produce up to 80 percent of our serotonin (serotonin being the chemical in our body crucial for contentment and joy). When the gut is imbalanced due to a diet high in processed foods, refined sugars, artificial colouring, food additives, and alcohol, it severely impacts the mental balance an individual is able to achieve.
Read more + find recipies in Issue 8 of Dote Magazine.