The BDA urges workers to Lunch Mindfully this Mental Health Awareness Week11 May 2015
To celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week 2015, The British Dietetic Association is urging workers to reclaim their lunch hours and be mindful about their lunchtime choices.
This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is highlighting mindfulness, and more broadly the positive steps people can take to increase mental resilience. The Mental Health Foundation says that mindfulness is a positive response to the pressures of modern lifestyles - in particular stress, anxiety and depression.
The BDA has recently updated its global evidence network on the latest knowledge on nutrition and stress. Alana MacDonald, a dietitian also trained in counselling and behaviour change, who reviewed the evidence, found that high levels of stress are strongly linked to altered eating patterns and poor food choices. Those who are under high levels of stress are at an increased risk of making food choices which are higher in fat and sugar. Alana also says there is also an increased risk of overeating due to our mind being elsewhere.
Alison Clark, a dietitian who specialises in workplace health promotion, says that for those of us working regular hours, reclaiming your lunch hour can have positive mental and physical health benefits. “It’s beneficial to eat lunch away from the distractions of emails and report writing. Taking meals at your desk can lead to mindless eating, which means we are not concentrating on what we are eating and can lead to weight gain over time”.
Getting outside at lunchtime gets you some fresh air and also exposes you to sun rays, particularly during the summer months, which helps the body make Vitamin D through the action on our skin. Some studies suggest an association between low vitamin D levels in the blood and various mood disorders, including depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Alison says “More research is needed before a conclusion can be made on this but as most of the UK population need help with Vitamin D levels, it’s a good habit to start."
CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, Jenny Edwards, says: “Everyone has mental health, and everyone can take positive steps to help maintain emotional wellbeing. Over recent years, and in large part due to previous Mental Health Awareness Weeks, there is a greater acknowledgment of the impact of exercising, eating and sleeping well, not just for physical health, but mental health.”
Find out more about the BDA’s Nutrition in the Workplace workshops on a range of topics including ‘Good Mood Food’ and ‘IBS – help what do I eat?’ contact the British Dietetic Association on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 2008030.