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Eat well

Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best

What we eat doesn’t just affect our physical health: it can also affect our mental health and wellbeing. Eating well can improve your sense of wellbeing and your mood.

On this page you’ll find some overall tips and guidance and some resources to link you to support, tools and offers.

two white girls smiling with two black boys with a plate of healthy fruit and vegatables


How are diet and mental health linked?

The relationship between our diet and our mental health is complex. However, research shows a link between what we eat and how we feel.

Our diet can affect our brain. Some foods can help us feel better. A Mediterranean-style diet (one with lots of vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, cereal and grains) supplemented with fish oil can reduce the symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, there are two groups of foods that have a negative effect on the brain:

  • foods that trick the brain into releasing chemicals we may be lacking, temporarily altering our mood (for example, caffeine and chocolate)
  • foods that prevent the conversion of other foods into nutrients the brain needs (for example, saturated fat such as butter, lard and palm oil).

What should I eat?

The Eatwell guide on the NHS website has detailed information on how to achieve a healthy, balanced diet. It’s very similar to the Mediterranean diet.

Staying hydrated

As a basic guide, most adults need about 2 to 2.5 litres of fluid a day. Try keeping a water bottle with you and remember to sip on it throughout the day to help you stay hydrated.

Sharing meals with other people

There are many psychological, social and biological benefits of eating meals with other people. They give us a sense of rhythm and regularity in our lives, a chance to reflect on the day, and feel connected to others. Biologically, eating in upright chairs helps with our digestion. Talking and listening also slows us down so we don’t eat too fast.

Make the most of mealtimes by setting aside at least one day a week to eat with family and friends. Choose a meal that’s easy to prepare so it doesn’t become a chore. Share responsibility so everyone has a different task: doing the shopping, setting the table, cooking or washing up, for example. Keep the television off so you can all talk and share.

Alcohol consumption

If you regularly drink more than 14 units of alcohol a week, you should aim to lower your consumption. Realising you have a problem with alcohol is the first big step to getting help. To find guidance and support see our alcohol misuse page

Eating disorders

If you feel you’re using food as a negative coping mechanism to deal with emotional pain or as a way to feel in control, you may have an eating disorder.  You can see our link to further sources of help and support here on our eating disorders page


Living Well Eating Well

Healthy eating on a budget

West Yorkshire Healthcare Partnership advice on low cost healthy eating

NHS Eat Well guide

Some easy to follow guidance on healthy eating

BUPA guide to staying hydrated

Useful information on staying hydrated

NHS & Healthcare Staff Discounts

NHS & healthcare staff can also get healthy food discounts from some of health food companies