good mental health makes it easier to eat well

An Often Overlooked Ingredient in Healthy Eating

I’m talking about emotional wellness. Surprised? I can tell you that no dietitian reading this will be. No psychologist, no social worker, even few physicians will wonder why I’m dedicating a blog post to this topic.

Simply put, good mental health makes it easier to eat well – to consistently plan, prepare, and choose wholesome food. Problems like poor sleep, excessive stress, depression, anxiety and addiction make these things much harder. I’m not only talking about diagnosed mental health disorders, but factors like relaxation, social support, and time management.

Do you think emotional wellness concerns might be affecting your eating habits? If so, consider seeking help with that before or in addition to working with a dietitian.

Not sure where to go? Your family doctor may be able to suggest resources. In Canada at least, we have a surprising number and variety of free or low-cost programs. Take advantage! Here are nine options in Calgary, in order of increasing urgency:

Available to all Calgarians:

  1. Alberta Healthy Living Program – Free education workshops led by health professionals including:
    • Living Well With Stress
    • Managing Your Emotional Eating
    • Waking Up to Healthy Sleep
    • Hoping and Coping
      Call 403-9-Health (403-943-2584)
  2. 2-1-1 – Referral service connecting you with an entire network of community, social and government-based services. Think housing, domestic violence, food banks, social assistance, and much more. This service is offered in over 200 languages. It’s free, confidential and available 24 hours a day 365 days a year. Call 211 or search online if you prefer.
  3. Access Mental Health – Referral service for non-urgent cases. Call to speak with a mental health clinician (psychologist, registered nurse or social worker) who can refer you to an appropriate program for support. Up to 12 one-hour sessions may be available, depending on your situation. No referral needed. Call 403-943-1500.
  4. Calgary Family Therapy Centre – Free service for any family with behavioual concerns about a child under the age of 18. Located on the 6th floor of One Executive Place (600 – 1816 Crowchild Trail NW). On average, families attend five to eight sessions of 1 to 1.5 hours duration. Call (403) 802-1680.
  5. South Calgary Mental Health Walk-in – Walk-in therapy on a single-session basis is offered to clients of all ages. Service providers may include clinical nurse specialists, psychologists, and social workers. Open Monday to Thursday 4-7, Sunday 12-3. Located on the second floor of the South Calgary Health Centre (31 Sunpark Plaza SE).
  6. Calgary Distress Centre – 24-Hour Crisis Line. For more complex issues, professional crisis counsellors can provide free counselling for individuals, groups and families. Evening and emergency appointments available. Counsellors are all Registered Social Workers. Call 403.266.HELP (4357)

Other options that may be available to you:

  1. Your employer may have an Employee and Family Assistance (EFAP) ProgramContact your human resources department or benefits manager.
  2. Your doctor may be a part of a Primary Care Network (PCN). PCN’s often employ Behavioural Health Consultants, who can assist with a wide range of issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationship issues, and more. Their services are usually free of charge. Ask your doctor’s office. Zen

One of the reasons diets so often fail is that their focus on what you eat, not why you eat. Good mental health, including stress management, time management, and sleep hygiene, may just be your missing link to better eating.

Do you have anything to add? Always happy to hear your comments on the Sweet Spot Facebook page, or feel free to email me directly.

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