Eating for your mental health over Christmas


No-one is immune to mental health, no matter who we are and what time of year it is. Not me, you or the other 6+ billion people we share this world with.

This time of year especially, as the Christmas holiday season festivities begin, we can sometimes notice a change in  lifestyle, a change in diet, perhaps a change in alcohol intake, which all contributes to a change in our overall mental health.

Whilst we still want to be able to enjoy ourselves and a bit of overindulgence over the holidays, it’s reassuring to know that we can have somewhat of an influence over our thoughts and feelings by simply what we put into our mouth and that in itself can be of huge benefit to both our physical and mental well-being if we understand how.

Feelings of happiness and motivation and that ability to be upbeat or relaxed when needed, are produced by very important proteins and it’s so easy to get them from a varied diet.


Include more tyrosine if feeling under pressure and unmotivated:

Cottage cheese – tofu – tempeh – lean steak & lamb – lean pork cuts – tuna – haddock – cod – turkey – chicken – sesame seeds – sunflower seeds – chia seeds – flax seeds – almonds – natural yoghurt – beans & lentils – brown rice.

Include more tryptophan if feeling unhappy:

Tofu – mozzarella – cottage cheese – oats – lentils – beans – eggs – nuts – pumpkin seeds – chia seeds – flax seeds – pistachios – cashews – turkey – chicken – lean roast lamb – prawns – crab – scallops

Include more glutamine if feel like you can’t relax:

Beef – chicken – fish – dairy – eggs – rice – corn – spinach – sprouts – cabbage


From a nutritionist’s perspective, I advise eating a diet that is full of varied foods. Make your food as colourful as possible too – as this will make sure you’re maximising those vitamins.

Remember to never underestimate the power of natural, good food because when you think about it, once upon a time it was all we had to rely on.

Happy holidays!

Written By: Lydia Florence Reece BSc, MSc, ANutr, Instagram @thegymnut


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