Chocolate. Coffee. Alcohol. Potato Chips. Donuts.
If I don’t have chocolate at least once daily, NOBODY wants to get near me. Do you feel that way about your morning coffee? What’s your connection between food and your mental health?
The Connection Between Food and Mental Health
Food has such a strong connection for us. I’ve had people I’ve know who HAVE to have their caffeine soda in the morning. I HAVE to have my chocolate. Why do we have this strong connection to food?
We know that what we eat has a strong connection to not only our physical health, but our mental health as well. It’s important that when we eat we remember that it’s going to affect our brain and mental functioning. There are now numerous studies that show the connection between food and mental health. Numerous scientific peer reviewed studies are showing that your diet can help reduce things like mood fluctuations and give you a better ability to focus amongst other things.
Food can be a calming tool–it can helps us ease anxiety or calm stress. It can be an emotional tool for us, or be part of what we feel is a needed routine. An example of this might be the need to have a glass of wine each night or my ‘needing’ chocolate every night.
Food and Counseling
Using food in counseling has also been an important tool. Some of the ways that counseling and food can be connected are:
- Small groups: Working with students who may have aversions to different tastes and textures try new foods. CLICK TO GET OUR FREE DONUT ACTIVITY! (coming soon)
- Individual: Helping with emotional eating, orthorexia (an obsession or unhealthy focus on eating), anorexia or bulimia (not eating or binge eating), and body dysmorphia (an obsession with body flaws).
- Large Group/Classroom Counseling: Helping a kindergarten class learn to become more aware of the things around them with a five senses activity that incorporates taste testing.
A Word of Caution
I would always make sure that you check with those you are working with or their parents (if you are working with minors) to make sure there aren’t any food allergies or intolerances. I also had someone I worked with who only ate salt and vinegar foods and wouldn’t eat anything else. So pickles, salt and vinegar chips, etc were foods they would eat. But I knew that they would not do well at that time doing a small group activity where we tasted different donuts that had different flavors and textures.
Other Settings To Use Food
There are other great settings that you can use these activities in!
- Family Lessons
- Teaching and Classroom
- Church Classes
- And More!
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