Reduce Anxiety and Manage Depression with Diet Plan from Online Dietitian Nutritionist


May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time to focus on prevention, early identification, and intervention for mental health disorders. According to NAMI, mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 5 youth aged 13-18 each year. Unfortunately, mental health disorders still carry a stigma that can prevent people from seeking help.

While the exercise and nutrition guidance shared in this blog cannot replace seeking medical attention if you suspect you or someone you know may be experiencing a mental health condition, it is well-established by scientific research that a healthy lifestyle can contribute to a healthier brain. Many mental health disorders have a physiological basis, hence what we consume, and how we treat our bodies can impact brain function. It follows that a healthy diet, physical activity, and self-care practices are crucial for maintaining optimal mental health.

As dietitian nutritionists, we believe that with the right care with a comprehensive medical team, including receiving medical nutrition therapy, you can manage your mental health, reduce symptoms, and live better.

  • Seek help immediately if you or someone you love is living with a mental health disorder. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) and the Crisis Text Line (text “MHA” to 741-741) are available 24/7. Consider joining a support group to connect with others who may be going through similar struggles.
  • Did you know that your gut health is linked to your mental health? This is because 95% of the body’s serotonin, which is a chemical that helps regulate mood, is produced in the gut. This is where prebiotics and probiotics come in. They play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut. By combining the two, you can help improve your gut health and, in turn, your mental health. Look for ways to incorporate prebiotics and probiotics into your daily meals to keep your gut healthy and improve your overall mental health.
    • Yogurt with bananas or other fruits: Yogurt contains live cultures of beneficial bacteria that aid digestion and boost the immune system. Bananas contain prebiotic fiber that feeds these good bacteria.
    • Kefir with oats or granola: Kefir is a fermented milk drink that is high in probiotics. Oats or granola provide prebiotic fiber to help feed the good bacteria in your gut.
    • Kimchi or sauerkraut with whole grain rice: Kimchi and sauerkraut are fermented vegetables that are rich in probiotics. Whole grain rice provides prebiotic fiber to support the growth of these beneficial bacteria.
    • Miso soup with seaweed or tofu: Miso is a fermented soybean paste that is high in probiotics. Seaweed and tofu are both sources of prebiotic fiber that can enhance the benefits of the probiotics in the miso.
    • Tempeh with steamed vegetables: Tempeh is a fermented soybean product that is packed with probiotics. Steamed vegetables, such as broccoli or carrots, provide prebiotic fiber to support the growth of these good bacteria.
  • Boost brain health with Omega 3 fatty acids found in fatty fish, fish oil supplements, chia, hemp, and flax seeds. The brain is made up of mostly fat, and omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat that is particularly important for brain function. They are essential components of the membranes that surround brain cells, which help to keep the cells flexible and responsive. Omega-3s also help to improve blood flow to the brain, which can enhance cognitive function. Omega-3s have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help to reduce the damage caused by chronic inflammation in the brain. Chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Finally, omega-3s are important for the development and function of the nervous system. Studies have shown that infants who consume adequate amounts of omega-3s have better cognitive development than those who do not. In adults, omega-3s have been shown to improve memory, attention, and overall cognitive function.
  • Vitamin B12 belongs to the group of 8 essential B vitamins, which means that it cannot be naturally produced by our bodies, and it has to be obtained through our diet. This vitamin plays a vital role in maintaining the health of our brain and nervous system, and it is essential for cognitive functions such as memory, focus, and concentration. When we suffer from a long-term B12 deficiency, it can cause pernicious anemia, a condition that is irreversible, and it can lead to memory loss, depression, anxiety, and permanent nerve and brain damage. Therefore, it is crucial to make sure that we consume enough Vitamin B12 through our diet or supplements to keep our brain and body healthy. Vegans, vegetarians, and those over 60 may be at risk for deficiency and may need to take a supplement. Get supplement support from a virtual dietitian to make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, depending on your diet plan and age.
  • Beware of low cholesterol! While cholesterol has been on the public’s blacklist for a long time, it is actually essential for many bodily functions. Too little cholesterol is problematic for depression and mood disorders. But don’t reach for the bacon just yet. We aren’t suggesting you indulge in high-fat foods. Rather, the body needs good fats such as avocados, nuts, eggs, olive oil, cheese, oily fish, chia seeds, and even dark chocolate. Those who have unhealthy low-fat eating habits may be at risk for depression.

Mental health awareness is key to prevention and treatment. We can begin by talking about it. Learn about how healthy nutrition and food choices help boost our brain health. We especially need to know that we, or our loved ones dealing with mental health problems, aren’t alone.

Salmon and Quinoa Bowl


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 lb. fresh salmon fillet
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1/2 cup cooked edamame
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place salmon fillet on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake salmon for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together cooked quinoa, edamame, cherry tomatoes, walnuts, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Divide the quinoa mixture into two bowls.
  6. Once the salmon is cooked, remove it from the oven and use a fork to flake it into bite-sized pieces.
  7. Add the salmon to the quinoa bowls and top with sliced avocado.

Enjoy! This recipe is packed with brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids from the salmon and walnuts, as well as protein, fiber, and other essential nutrients from the quinoa, edamame, cherry tomatoes, and avocado.