Nutrition and mental health go hand-in-hand. Our gut is basically our second brain!

It's a fact that, when people are depressed, they tend to go one of two extreme ways; our emotions either cause us to have a massive attachment to food (which is where the term ‘comfort food’ stems from) or, they can cause us to lose our appetites completely. 

By the same token, we know that anxiety, depression and a whole host of other mental health problems can be hugely supported by making changes to our diet. Considering our growing obsession with social media (and the effect it has on our wellbeing), addressing and discussing issues around mental health couldn’t be more relevant right now

Strong nutritional and mental health support is needed across the board – not only in fashion, but in all industries. Without our health, we have nothing. Making models, agencies and the fashion industry more aware of positive lifestyle and dietary choices – such as eating oily fish which are high in omega-3s, increasing our fiber intake, and introducing mindfulness into our daily routines (research has shown this can improve our mental health) – is a good starting point, and it’s how I approach things through the Be Well Collective.

Aside from eating to feel full of beans and physically great, I like to eat for my mental health. Counting calories is a very dangerous cycle and it’s incredibly damaging; generally, it’s unwise to count the calories in a product, as opposed to looking at the ingredients and the nutrients it contains. After all, often when I ask people what a calorie actually is, they don’t know! For the record, a calorie is a unit that’s used to measure energy; it’s the amount of heat that’s needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. We need to stop getting so wrapped up in calories and how many we supposedly can and can’t have! After all, a calorie is not a calorie. We simply cannot compare the same calorie content of a biscuit to a piece of broccoli – no one needs a science degree to understand that! Instead, smaller portion sizes, reducing the amount of processed and taking more time to consume your meal should become the norm. People would be a lot less stressed and a lot healthier for it!

Imagery courtesy of Moeez Ali.

When it comes to what to eat for your physical and mental health, I would advise steering clear of low-fat foods; instead, opting for foods in their natural state, and a health serving of fats. The right kinds of fats will not make you gain weight – research has shown fats help to increase satiety, which can lead to snacking less, and ultimately weight loss, so it's the opposite effect – and they include essential fatty acids, which we need to make our skin glow and our organs function! Aim for foods which contain monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil, avocado, nuts and salmon, not fried foods, which contain trans-fat. Low-calorie foods generally have a high sugar content, which can increase our cravings – not increase our satiety – and lead to weight gain by converting the sugar to fat storage.

I believe in eating a bit of everything. I approach my diet with a very balanced ethos – because, ultimately, a little bit of what you fancy does you good! Also, if there's one thing I want to drill home, it's that nutrition should be completely personalised to the individual.

Stay tuned for column three, where I'll walk you through my diet in a lot more detail, and bust some myths and misconceptions around nutrition...

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Ella Denton and Jemma Finch of Stories Behind Things reveal the inside track to their sustainable collective.

+ Don't miss what to see and where to be seen in London this October.

+ We speak to the curator behind the gargantuan Fashioned From Nature exhibition at The V&A Museum.