Did you know that May is Mental Health Month

No matter if you or someone you know struggles with mental illness, proper nutrition and exercise can boost your mood!

If you’re looking to increase your energy, decrease your stress, alleviate anxiety, or up your spirits, you might want to give some of these a try:

  • Oily fish (example: Mackerel): contain vitamin D which increases serotonin to boost your mood.
  • Pumpkin and sunflower seeds: rich in omega-3-fatty acids and essential nutrients which can help to reduce symptoms of Depression and Insomnia.
  • Vanilla ice cream: contains phosphorus that can help increase the libido in some.
  • Bananas: contain tryptophan which works with serotonin. It also contains potassium, which we may need when stressed, and B6 that helps to regulate sugar levels.
  •  Dark chocolate: causes the brain to release feel-good endorphins and serotonin.
  •  Pasta: contains carbohydrates that increase the production of serotonin.
  • Cheese: contains tryptophan and calcium, needed to manufacture the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin.
  •  Green, leafy vegetables: contain folic acid. A deficiency of folic acid can result in symptoms of Depression.
  •  Coffee: boosts the metabolism, increases alertness, and can activate the pleasure controls in the brain.
  • Spicy food: causes the body to release endorphins in response the capsaicin, also known as the spiciness, of say hot tamales.
  •  Wine: in moderation, may promote a feeling of happiness and lower blood pressure.

Interesting tidbit:

A study in Spain over  the course of 11 years found that those who ate the most trans fats were  48% more likely to develop depression. To avoid trans-fats, you will want to look for “trans-fat free” products and those that do not contain “partially hydrogenated” in the ingredients list.

Water: insufficient amounts of water, or dehydration, can lead to fatigue, headaches, and memory loss.


Nutrients that are beneficial to mental health disorders:

  •  Amino acids
  •  Antioxidants
  •  Essential Fatty Acids
  •  Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids
  •  Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamins B6, B12, folic acid, vitamin D, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

The Art of Mindful Eating

What is it?

Mindful eating is a stress relieving technique or meditative practice that allows you to use all of your senses to enjoy the food you are consuming.

What are the benefits?

    • Can decrease the amount of mindless eating a person does which, in turn, possibly reduces the number of calories taken in. When people eat mindlessly, they often snack without realizing how much they have actually consumed.
    • It allows the person to truly enjoy their food resulting in an overall sense of satisfaction that may not be found when eating quickly or on-the-go
  •  It also allows the body time to make the brain aware of how full you are. It takes the digestive tract approximately 20 minutes to tell the brain that you are full so you stop eating when satisfied.

How is it done?

  • Savor your food and pay attention to the various flavors of the ingredients
  • Analyze the textures of your meal: crunchy or creamy? Dry or juicy?
  • Meditate on the food. When outside thoughts enter, identify them and then return to the enjoyment of your food.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to when you are no longer hungry and other sensations or tension within your body.


                           Fitness Corner

Not only can nutrients help boost your mood but so can exercise through various methods:

  • Releases endorphins that produce a feel-good emotion which is why you may have heard of the term ‘runner’s high’.
  • Reduces immune system overreactions.
  •  Increases body temperature which can calm some individuals.
  •  Boosts self-confidence.
  • Acts as a distraction from worry and negative feelings and creates a positive outlet for such emotions.
  • Exercising at the proper time of day for the individual can result in improved sleep.
  •  It is considered an effective treatment for mild to moderate Depression.

How can you add more exercise into your life?

  • Walk with someone or join a group fitness class. Both of these options, and others, allow for additional mental health bonuses- a social network.
  • Have fun and be creative dancing- at a club, taking lessons, or a fun fitness class like the latest trend known as Zumba.
  • Even decluttering your house can reap benefits for both your body and mind. Housework and yard work burn calories and can lift your spirits.

Recipe of the Month:

An Uplifting Feast

Using the ingredients mentioned above, consider trying this meal, remembering to use all of your senses for a mindful experience.

 Spicy Pasta             


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound common white mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 1 jar of Arrabbiata pasta sauce, use as desired
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary crumbled
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound linguine
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to taste


Bring a large quantity of water to a boil in a stockpot.  To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook 30 seconds. Optional: use Arrabbiata pasta sauce instead of making or if you desire additional sauce. Stir in the mushrooms and cook until brown and juicy, about 10 minutes. Mix in the tomatoes, rosemary, and salt, and cook, stirring often, for 10 minutes. If the sauce begins to splatter during cooking, lower the heat to medium-low. Keep the sauce warm while cooking the linguine.

Drop the linguine into the boiling water and cook until al dente. Taste one along the way to avoid overcooking it. Drain thoroughly in a colander and return to the pot. Pour on the sauce and toss. Serve with a light sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.


Grilled Salmon Salad         


  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 salmon fillet
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mixed greens
  • 1/4 cup grape tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons dried cherries
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 5 small broccoli florets
  • Handful of blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 slice bread, brushed with olive oil and toasted, for serving


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the salmon with salt and pepper. Add the salmon to the hot skillet and cook for 7 minutes on each side. Remove from the heat.

Combine the mixed greens, tomatoes, dried cherries, pine nuts, broccoli and blueberries together in a bowl. Whisk together the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar and chives. Season with salt and pepper and pour half over the salad. Place the salmon on top of the salad and pour over the remaining dressing. Serve with toasted bread on the side.

This recipe was created by a contestant during a cooking competition. The Food Network Kitchens have not tested it for home use, therefore, we cannot make any representation as to the results.

Dessert: Ice Cream with Bananas and Chocolate   


½ cup low, fat vanilla ice cream

1 tsp chocolate sauce

½ banana


Slice ½ banana into small pieces. Heat chocolate sauce as desired. Pour chocolate sauce over banana slices and ice cream. Enjoy!