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Mental Health & Eating Disorders

Whether you have a diagnosed mental illness or are interested in improving or maintaining your overall mental health, eating healthy by following Canada’s Food Guide is important. This includes having a balance of foods such as vegetables and fruit, whole grains, and protein foods, limiting highly processed foods, eating foods rich in healthy fats, and drinking enough fluids.

There are no special diets or eating recommendations to treat mental health conditions. Sometimes, when you are struggling with mental health, it can be hard to eat right. Lack of appetite or interest in eating, food restrictions, and food aversions can lead to low intakes of some nutrients.

If you need support with maintaining good nutrition while coping with mental health issues, registered dietitians can help. Find a registered dietitian in your community by using our Registered Dietitian Services Directory, visiting the Health Connect Ontario website, or calling Health Connect Ontario at 811 to connect with a dietitian.

Being physically active can also help with mental health. Exercise can improve your mood and help you feel better. Aim for 150 minutes a week of physical activity that you enjoy, such as gardening, biking, walking, dancing, swimming etc. This can be split up into shorter, more frequent sessions (e.g., 30 minutes, five times a week) or longer, less frequent sessions (e.g., 50 minutes, three times a week).

If you can take your activity outdoors in nature, this has even more benefits to your mental health.

Additional Resources

Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds – Healthy Eating

Healthy Habits to Cope with Stress – Unlockfood

Canada’s 24 Hour Movement Guidelines: ParticipAction

Disordered eating and eating disorders have a big impact on your physical and mental health and wellbeing. Some signs of disordered eating can include:

  • Being extremely preoccupied with food and body size
  • Having a negative body image
  • Strictly controlling food intake
  • Engaging in behaviors such as vomiting, taking laxatives, or doing excessive exercise to get rid of food from your body
  • Feeling out of control with your eating

It is possible to recover from an eating disorder with professional help. If you are struggling with disordered eating or suspect that you may have an eating disorder, reach out to your primary health care provider for help. Note: The Health Unit does not provide eating disorder diagnoses or treatment.

Other sources of support include:

Additional Resources

When Eating and Weight are Concerns – A glimpse at eating disorders – Unlockfood

Beyond Images Resources