Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions in the United States.¹
There are many risk factors for mental illness or poor mental health that are outside your control, but it may be empowering to focus on things you can do to help keep your body as healthy as possible. A healthy body is better able to support your mind when the going gets tough.
For questions or guidance about your mental health or a nutrition plan, an easy way to start is with a visit (in person or virtual) with your primary care provider (PCP). If you need help finding a doctor, use the Find a Doctor tool.
In nature, everything is connected. Disruption to one species or ecosystem can affect the overall health of the planet. In the same way, mental and physical health are equally important components of your overall health, and one feeds the other. For mental health resources and information, visit the Mental Health page at premera.com.
The foundation of good health
According to the CDC, people with healthy eating habits live longer and are at lower risk for serious health problems such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.² Chronic conditions can increase the likelihood of depression, stress, and anxiety. Improved nutrition and increased activity can give a boost to total health and well-being and lower the risk of disease. The good news is that the food choices we make can have positive, profound health effects.
It’s important to look at good nutrition not as a diet, but as a habit of consistently choosing healthy foods and beverages. Changing your eating patterns might seem like a daunting task, but there are simple ways to start making changes.
Aim for a colorful plate
For optimal health, fruits and vegetables are powerhouses. Strive to include a variety of colors on your plate. Even fresh herbs are loaded with vitamins, fiber, and minerals! Round off your healthy plate with whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat dairy or plant-based, non-dairy options. Make sure to limit foods with unhealthy fats, salt, and added sugars.
Please note that infants and toddlers under age two should get about half of their calories from fat. Cholesterol and other fats are very important for their growth and development.3
Try these easy suggestions to add more color and fiber to your diet:
- Top your favorite whole grain cereal with fruit, or add bananas, blueberries, or chopped apples to pancakes.
- Prepare carrots, celery, cauliflower, or your other favorite fresh veggies ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for quick access. Add flavor by dipping them in hummus or other bean spread, or even a bit of ranch dressing.
- Add half a cup of beans or lentils to your salad to add fiber, texture, and flavor.
- Sprinkle fresh herbs over salad or whole wheat pasta.
- Make an easy soup with the vegetables you have on hand. Great options are potatoes, carrots, squash, onions, cauliflower, frozen kale, and spinach. Toss in the beans of your choice for a hearty meal. A big batch means handy leftovers for quick reheating the next day.
- Make stir fries with your favorite vegetables.
- Try roasting or grilling your vegetables to bring out new flavors.
- Jazz up vegetables with spices, chopped nuts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, or some other specialty oil, like walnut or sesame oil.
- Try mashed avocado as a sandwich spread.
- Keep ready-to-eat fruits in your refrigerator for a quick snack. If you’re too short on time to wash and cut your own, take advantage of prepared produce at your grocery store.
Don’t forget this healthy habit
According to the CDC, drinking enough water every day is important for your health. It can prevent dehydration, which can cause unclear thinking, mood changes, and overheating. It also helps lubricate and cushion joints and protects your spinal cord and other sensitive tissues.4 To encourage water consumption, try the following tips:
- Carry a water bottle with you and refill it as needed throughout the day.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Add berries or slices of lime, lemon, or cucumber for more flavor.
- Serve water during meals and opt for water when dining out.
Remember, what you eat can impact how you feel and your overall sense of well-being. You deserve to feel your very best!
1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/mentalhealth/learn/
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/about-nutrition/why-it-matters.html
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/water-and-healthier-drinks