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Psychotherapy and Nutrition


One of the questions that I ask at each intake is about nutrition. It’s a two-part question also asking about hydration. When I ask about nutrition I explain the difference between whole foods and processed foods and how our bodies get more immediate energy and satisfaction from whole foods. And that many of the products in the grocery story (box, bag, or can) are heavily processed and don’t provide the energy we need or give the satisfaction we want.

Ample research studies have addressed this issue of how what we eat affects how we feel. And many of the folks I see in my office communicate the challenges of eating a whole foods diet like fruits and vegetables that are organically grown but also express frustration with weekly fast food or daily sodas. With this I begin to educate about how nutrition affects our ability to manage the day-to-day. I give the personal story of not being a coffee drinker but one day trying an iced coffee from a name brand coffee maker. I instantly felt the “jitters” and intensity of the caffeine, but then I felt the crash from it and how it left me tired and moody.

With folks that are coming for strong feelings of mental health such as Depression or Anxiety, it’s good to talk through what will provide the energy and satisfaction desired from the food we eat. Often we think of food as a means to an end but it’s better to think of it in the way of how will this affect me in the present. Here are some tips to implement into your daily routine:

  1. Whole foods that are organically grown and processed like meats, dairy, fruits and vegetable that also include fiber and the essential vitamins and minerals your body needs. Check with your doctor or a nutritionist for a diet that specifically addresses mood, energy, and overall health

  2. Decrease processed foods that you find in a box, bag, or can and get back to making fresh food that has less additives and preservatives.

  3. Hydration is an important part of your daily routine since your brain is 75% water and your body is almost 90%. Increase water drinking and decrease sodas and caffeinated drinks. The rule of thumb now for hydration is 5 bathroom breaks a day. Less than this and you are probably dehydrated which reduces energy and makes us feel lethargic

  4. Consider fasting for a specific time each week. This helps to detox the body and puts you back in control of your eating. You can begin with 12 hours of only fluids and work your way up to a fully 24-hour period.

  5. These tips may not be for everyone so consult with your doctor for more recommendations. The intention for these tips is to increase mood, energy, and overall health and not a diet per se.

I am pleasantly surprised when folks come back after making small changes like the ones just listed how it positively affects their mood and energy. Since we need food to sustain our activities, why not use the foods that will help most and decrease those foods that take away from our overall health.

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