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Embrace | Overcome | Create Your Life 

  • Terri K. Lankford, LPC, NCC, LCAS

You Are What You Eat : Setting Intentions Series Part III

Did you get that budget done from last week??? I HOPE SO.

We are on a ROLL in this series of the Top 4 intentions that I see benefit my clients when they SHOW UP for themselves and follow through.

This one gets overlooked a lot as something that might impact mental health - but anything that impacts your OVERALL physical health directly impacts the functioning of your BRAIN and who you FEEL!! SO Moving right along …

Violet in her blueberry form, as portrayed by Denise Nickerson.

Intention #3 : Get your NUTRIENTS

The role of nutrition in mental health gets overlooked ALL of the time! But there is rapidly growing research that shows the impact on short and long-term mental health. The evidence indicates that FOOD plays an important contributing role in the development, management and prevention of specific mental health problems such as depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease.

As recently as in the past week there has been a preliminary study released that shows people who eat vegetables, fruit and whole grains may have lower rates of depression over time. The study found that people whose diets adhered more closely to the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were less likely to develop depression than people who did not closely follow the diet.

And did you know that calories and protein help build muscle mass, but to build brains, fats matter more - and particularly the long-chain omega-3 fats found in fish and seafood. No one’s diet is complete without these.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep and appetite, mediate moods, and inhibit pain is primarily (95%) produced in your gastrointestinal tract, and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions.

There’s so much incredible information out there about Food as Medicine and just the overall impact of how taking all of this processed junk out of our diet increasing our longevity… and who doesn’t want to live a longer and more healthy life?


What Should You Eat?

Like an expensive car, your brain functions best when it gets only premium fuel. Eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from oxidative stress which can damage cells.

  • START BY CUTTING THE PROCESSED FOODS OUT OF YOUR DIET. Unfortunately, just like an expensive car, your brain can be damaged if you ingest anything other than premium fuel. If substances from “low-premium” fuel (such as what you get from processed or refined foods) get to the brain, it has little ability to get rid of them.

  • GET RID OF THE SUGAR! Your diet should be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, and fish and seafood, and to contain only modest amounts of lean meats and dairy. They are also void of processed and refined foods and sugars. Ya Hear that!

  • GET A GOOD VITAMIN & MINERAL SUPPLEMENT. According to a study reported in Neuropsychobiology, supplementation vitamins CONSISTENTLY improved mood in both men and women.

  • LOOK FOR NATURALLY OCCURRING PROBIOTICS, like in sauerkraut, yogurt, pickles, kombucha, and sourdough bread… and then look for supplementation.Studies have also shown that when people take probiotics (supplements containing the good bacteria), their anxiety levels, perception of stress, and mental outlook improve, compared with people who did not take probiotics.

Check the quality of your supplements HERE before buying any old thing while you’re making your stop into Walmart or Target since you’re already there.



  1. Pick It. What’s one thing you can add/change/take out of your diet this week that follows along what you’ve learned today?

  2. Plan it Into Your Meals for the week.

  3. Prep to make sure you have it on hand.

  4. TRACK IT. Write it down. (Again, there’s an app for that or break out a good ol pen and paper calendar).

Can you stay consistent with adding in or taking out that one thing for this week that you know will help you feel better? I KNOW YOU CAN. Then next week, add in or take out something else… And the next week, do the same thing. Eventually these weekly INTENTIONAL changes add up to a diet that suits a more quality lifestyle and mental health that can sustain and support you instead of the opposite.


OK What else?

Here's the thing: What we eat can determine how we feel but how we feel can also determine what we eat.

Food and the chemicals in our brains interact to keep us going throughout the day. It is important to eat a variety of healthy foods, as they have different effects on our brains. For example, carbohydrates increase serotonin, a brain chemical that has a calming effect. Perhaps that's why people often crave carbohydrate-rich foods when they are under stress. Protein-rich foods increase tyrosine, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which help to increase alertness. In addition, certain healthy fats (omega-3 fatty acids) become part of the membranes of brain cells and control many brain processes. Poor nutrition or lack of a variety of healthy foods can contribute to depression by limiting the availability of these specific nutrients.

Obtaining and Maintaining a balance of mood and wellbeing can be protected by ensuring that our diet provides adequate amounts of complex carbohydrates, essential fats, amino acids, vitamins and minerals and water.

**Note: while a healthy diet can help recovery, it should sit alongside other treatments recommended by your doctor (whom of which you agree with and connect with their best practices and philosophies as well),



Food & Behavior Research :

26 February 2018 - MedicaXpress - Diet shown to reduce stroke risk may also reduce risk of depression :

Diet and mental health :

Food and Your Mood: Nutrition and Mental Health :

Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food :

Early Intervention to Preempt Major Depression in Older Black and White Adults :

Understanding nutrition, depression and mental illnesses:

Vitamin supplementation for 1 year improves mood. :

Can What You Eat Affect Your Mental Health? :


Welcome to Embrace | Overcome | Create Your Life.


I’m Terri Kiser Lankford, owner of the Rise & Thrive Counseling Practice, a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor (in NC), and the host here at Rise & Thrive Counseling, PLLC and the Embrace| Overcome|CreateYourLife Blog.


I’m also an entrepreneur, Syltherin, foodie on a fitness journey, complete book nerd, photography novice who happens to think music is life. 


Warning! This site is about motivation, health & wellness, and self love.  but its also about various mental health issues and may talk about subjects such as suicide, self-harm and other touchy subjects at some point. This site is not intended for youth and may be “too much” to some.


Nothing on this site should be considered a medical recommendation. I am not a doctor. Anything of interest should be discussed with your doctor or therapist, or me (in person) if you are my current client.  No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. (Sorry, I have to say that.)


All writing and mental health information here are accurate to the best of my knowledge at the time of publication. However, keep in mind my opinion, and available information, changes over time.

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