Eating Well Makes You Feel Good

August 6, 2018

Mental well-being is not just the absence of disease or mental illness. It is feeling good and functioning properly. It is being happy, feeling optimism, and having self-esteem. Good mental health also plays a role in our physical, social, and our economic well-being.

In Utah in 2015, only 29.8% of adults reported eating fruit two or more times a day, and only 17.2% reported eating vegetables three times a day. It can be hard to choose healthy foods with busy and stressful schedules. However, new research shows that consuming more fruits and vegetables may be linked with increased mental well-being.

A 2014 study in England published in BMJ Open, looked at the association between behavioral protective factors and mental well-being. Almost 14,000 adults participated in the Healthy Survey for England and were asked about BMI, smoking, drinking habits, and fruit and vegetable intake. To measure mental well-being, they used the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. They found that fruit and vegetable intake was highly associated with mental well-being in both men and women. People who were in the highest mental well-being category were more likely to report eating higher amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. More specifically, 33.5% of respondents who identified as “mentally well” ate 5+ servings o fruits and vegetables every day, while only 6.8% of that group ate less than one serving.

The paper’s lead author, Dr. Saverio Stanges said “Along with smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption was the health-related behavior most consistently associated with both low and high mental well-being. These novel findings suggest that fruit and vegetable intake may play a potential role as a driver, not just of physical, but also of mental well-being in the general population.”

While more research may be needed to explore fruit and vegetable intake as a factor in good mental health, the physical benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption are well documented.

Here are 10 tips to add more fruits and vegetables to your day:

  • Buy vegetables that are easy to prepare, such as prepared salads and baby carrots
  • Buy frozen vegetables that can be easily cooked in the microwave
  • Buy fruits and vegetables in season
  • Serve vegetables with a dip to make them more appealing to children
  • Add fruits and vegetables to smoothies
  • Place fruits and vegetables in prominent places in your home
  • Cut up fruits and vegetables as soon as you buy them, so when you make a meal, you can just pull your prepared produce out of the refrigerator
  • Snack and fruits and vegetables that are easy to grab and eat raw: carrots, broccoli, grapes, strawberries, cherries
  • Choose vegetables with a variety of color: red, orange, and green
  • Make half of your plate at meals times fruits or vegetablesIndividu

Learn more about the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption here, here, here, and here.

Find Utah fruit and vegetable consumption data.