Moms and Stress: Nutrition Tips from Virtual RDN Group to Improve Mental Health


It’s common for health to be viewed as separate parts of the body, with specialists for the liver, hormones, brain, and so on. However, it’s important to recognize that health is interconnected, including our mental health. Our entire organism is linked, and if one area is struggling, it can cause a ripple effect throughout the rest of the body. It’s time to start looking at health more holistically.

Likewise, good nutrition is the base of health — mental and physical. As in May we celebrate mothers and recognize Mental Health Awareness Month, we’re ending a month with nutrition tips to manage stress, depression, and anxiety.

It’s essential to be aware of the symptoms of depression and anxiety and to consult with a healthcare professional. An interdisciplinary team can work to help you get the care you need to feel better. As dietitian nutritionists, many working mothers ourselves, we can relate to how much time is spent on others and how little time is spent thinking of our own needs.  Take the time to nourish yourself and care for your mental health, one bite at a time.

  • Beware of Frankenstein Foods: Rethink snacks, chips, and the allure of fast foods. Consuming highly processed foods that contain excessive levels of sodium, sugar, and unrecognizable ingredients can negatively impact the body. Studies indicate that consuming these types of foods can increase the likelihood of developing depression by up to 60%. Choosing to eat whole, minimally processed foods, also known as “clean eating,” can have a positive impact on overall health. It’s all about being aware of the ingredients in the foods we choose to consume.
  • If you’re looking for a natural way to manage depression, consider adding foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids to your diet. These healthy fats can be found in oily fish, dark leafy greens, walnuts, flax and chia seeds. Omega 3 fatty acids act as a natural anti-depressant, helping to boost your mood and reduce feelings of sadness or anxiety. As functional dietitian nutritionists, we suggest consuming at least two servings of omega 3-rich foods per week. If you’re unable to meet this recommendation through diet alone, omega 3 supplements can also be a viable option.
  • Don’t overlook the importance of B vitamins when it comes to your mental health! B-group vitamins, including folate, folic acid, and vitamin B12, play a key role in regulating neurotransmitters, immune function, and amino acids. Studies have shown that individuals who consume a diet rich in B vitamins have a lower risk of developing depression. Luckily, incorporating these essential vitamins into your diet is easy. Leafy green vegetables, legumes, and whole grains are excellent sources of folate and folic acid. Meat-based proteins, eggs, and milk are great options for getting your daily dose of vitamin B12. Vegetarians and vegans might need supplements.
  • Soak up the sun! Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient present in fatty fish, eggs, and fortified breakfast cereals, but it’s also naturally produced by your skin when exposed to sunlight. Just a short amount of time in the sun each day, ranging from 5 to 30 minutes, can provide your body with the Vitamin D it needs to thrive. This can help lower the risk of depression and boost overall mental health.
  • The gut-brain axis is key to mental health. The health of our gut has a direct impact on our mental well-being. Did you know that 95% of the serotonin in our body is produced in our gut? A healthy intestinal tract produces more serotonin, which helps lower anxiety and stress levels. So, incorporating prebiotics and probiotics into your diet can be a game-changer for your overall mental health.
  • Staying hydrated is key. The importance of good hydration cannot be overstated. Our brains are made up of 80% water, and they require adequate hydration to function at their best. When we become dehydrated, fatigue sets in, which can lead to stress. This chronic stress takes a toll on our bodies and can cause a downward spiral of health issues. Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your body and mind in top form.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and it’s important to take care of yourself holistically, including your mental health. By being mindful of your needs, eating healthy, and staying active, you can improve your mental and physical health. Being a mom is tough, and it’s easy to forget you have to take care of your own needs to take care of others.