Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content

Diet and mental health

2-minute read

Eating well is important. It’s part of life. It’s part of a routine. Here are 7 tips on how to eat well, whether that’s to keep yourself healthy and feeling good, or to help with mental health issues you are facing.

1. Mindful eating

If you concentrate on what you’re eating, you’ll probably eat more healthily. For example, people who eat while watching television tend to eat too much at one sitting.

Practising mindfulness and being aware of what you are doing has its own benefits.

2. Sleep

Getting enough sleep is important. Bananas, spinach, almonds, cherries and fish can all help you sleep better. Try to have your main meal 2-3 hours before bed. If you’re hungry, a piece of fruit or a glass of milk is the best bedtime snack.

3. Think fish

Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are good for your mental health. You get them in oily fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, perch, herring and sardines. 2-3 meals a week of oily fish will provide enough omega-3. You can also try white fish - cod, bass, haddock, snapper and more.

4. Drink water

Drinking plenty of water helps prevent dehydration. Mild dehydration can make you cranky and irritable. Learn more about the importance of hydration and drinking water.

5. Healthy food swaps

It can be easier to make small changes than big changes. They’re more likely to stick. Swap white breads for wholegrain breads. Swap the frying pan for the grill. Swap salted nuts for unsalted nuts. Think of healthy food swaps.

6. Go easy on the alcohol

Alcohol is a depressant. While it can make you feel good for a while, overall it makes you feel bad. If you are taking antidepressant medication, alcohol interferes with how well they work. Drink in moderation.

7. Go easy on yourself

Change doesn't usually happen overnight. Take small steps to improve your diet, make changes and practice positive self talk. Some of those changes will be easy, others will be harder. You’ll stick with some, and not stick with others. In time, they will become healthy eating habits that come naturally.

Last reviewed: July 2017

Recommended links

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Top results

Healthy eating and mental illness

Food can play a vital role in maintaining mental health as well as physical health. In general, eating a nourishing diet gives people an overall sense of wellbeing.

Read more on beyondblue website

Physical health | Head to Health

Physical health and mental health are strongly connected. A holistic approach that links physical, social, emotional, and mental health is necessary for wellbeing.

Read more on Head to Health website

Mood and food - Better Health Channel

Your mood can affect your food choices, and your food choices may affect your mood.

Read more on Better Health Channel website

Eating disorders, anxiety and depression

Having an eating disorder is neither a lifestyle choice, a ‘diet gone wrong’, nor an attempt to get attention. A person with an eating disorder has a mental health condition.

Read more on beyondblue website

How far is too far - having a healthy relationship with food and your body

When you have a healthy relationship with food and your body, you set yourself up for a whole range of broader physical and mental health benefits.

Read more on Eating Disorders Victoria website

Promoting good mental health

Good mental health plays a significant part in overall health and wellbeing. Maintaining good mental health is just as important as good physical health.

Read more on Australian College of Mental Health Nurses website

Healthy living

A healthy lifestyle is important for everyone. When we look after our physical health, we feel better too – fitter, more relaxed and better able to cope with things.

Read more on SANE Australia website

Your physical and emotional wellbeing

Information on your physical and emotional wellbeing after birth including how to survive the early weeks, your body, sleep, plus links to trusted resources.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Recovery

Depression, anxiety and related disorders are treatable conditions from which most people recover.

Read more on beyondblue website

What is mental health?

Good mental health is a sense of wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. It enables us to fully enjoy and appreciate other people, day-to-day life and our environment

Read more on WA Health website

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback