Kamna Chhibber, a clinical psychologist and regular contributor to The Health Collective, answers some of our questions.
This interview is a quick follow-up to this article: Food, Nutrition, Well-Being and You
Q: Does good nutrition prevent any mental illnesses?
Having the right nutrition can aid in having overall good health and well-being which enhances our resilience and coping in situations, thus reducing the impact situations can have on us. However, mental health illnesses are caused by neurotransmitter imbalances and may not be prevented simply by the right nutrition.
Q: The relationship between an individual and food changes depending on the mental illness — Could you give more examples, please?
For many people with depression we see changes in eating patterns. Some people begin to eat less, others in contrast can eat a lot more when they are feeling particularly low. The manic phase of a bipolar illness is often associated with increased appetite. Eating disorders like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder are associated with altered eating patterns as well.
Also Read: Your Stories: Overcoming an Eating Disorder
Q: Is it possible to diagnose someone’s mental well-being by observing their diet and eating habits?
Sudden changes in appetite, including eating less or eating more, without a conscious decision or effort by an individual can be indicative of problems with mental health or even physical health conditions. If the changes persist for a few days they can be a cause of concern and it is usually advisable to consult with either your general physician or an expert in mental health (psychologist or psychiatrist) or the same to know and understand if there is a problem and what can be the remedial measures for the same.
Disclaimer: Material on The Health Collective does not intend to and cannot substitute for expert advice from a trained professional.