Healthy eating

Good foods:
  • Replace a typical afternoon snack of chocolate with yoghurt and a piece of fruit, nuts and dried fruit, or oat cakes with cottage cheese. This will help to keep your energy levels and emotions on an even keel.
  • Have some protein with each meal. This can reduce the impact that carbohydrates have on feeding brain chemical imbalances. Protein sources are eggs, lean meat, fish, lentils, beans and other pulses, soya, yoghurt, cheese, nuts and seeds.
  • Antioxidants are vital for brain health. Eat a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
  • Small healthy snacks throughout the day help alleviate nervousness. If you are prone to not eating when nervous, try to make yourself at least have a snack — a banana is ideal to keep you going.
Bad foods:
  • Alcohol, coffee, strong tea, colas and sugar make us feel good in the short term — but when this wears off, we want more. Use a food diary to help you cut down on these stimulants. For instance, start by restricting yourself to two coffees in the morning only, then reduce to one.
  • Stress has been linked to low levels of serotonin –- often called the “satisfaction” brain chemical. Foods which contain the precursor for serotonin include meat, fish, dairy products and beans.
  • If stress is stopping you from sleeping, try a herbal tea night cap. Camomile, vervain, peppermint, lemon balm, hops, rosehips, dill and fennel used singly or in blends are calming. Alternatively, have a glass of milk, as calcium helps you to sleep.
  • Some people just forget to eat when they are stressed. Make a point of observing meal times, even when you don’t actually eat very much.
For people who have periods:
  • Soya foods help to balance menstruation hormones. For pre–menstrual or menopausal stress, introduce a glass of soya milk or 50g of tofu into your diet daily.