College o DuPage Nursing Student Rana Shubbak wrote for Healthy Lombard that a majority of the American population, including children and adults, have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic one way or another. Other than the financial crisis that many Americans have dealt with, mental health is an issue that has been overlooked and seldom discussed. Nearly all families have dealt with the struggle of remote learning and work commitments from home. Juggling school, work, caring for children, and managing finances are all factors that can take a toll on mental health. There are many things that can be done at home during the pandemic to help improve mental health.
A place to begin to improve health is diet. According to a recent article by Brookie and colleagues (2018), a diet comprised of a higher quantity of raw fruits and vegetables is rich in micronutrients and associated with improved mental health. Once vegetables are cooked or processed many of the important micronutrients are lost. Chai et al., (2019) recently found that only about 54% of families consume food from non-fast-food outlets each month. Processed foods and fast-food not only contribute to obesity but other long-term health issues. Consuming fresh raw fruits and vegetables is not only healthier but saves time and money as well. A time-saving strategy is to wash and cut up favorite fruits and vegetables, such as berries or cucumbers, then placing in a container the night before work or school or on an ongoing basis for a convenient snack. Since this healthy snack has already been prepared it is available and convenient. Nutritious snacks not only improve overall health and save time but also improve one’s mood (Brookie et al., 2018). It is best to consume vegetables raw since boiling or cooking results in reduced nutrient content. To add flavor to raw vegetables, use dips such as peanut butter, ranch dressing or hummus that come in a variety of flavors.
The familiar saying, “you are what you eat,” really is true; healthier alternatives also have been found to improve energy are beneficial when attempting to improve fitness making them better than any fast-food meal. It is also important to stay active even it only involves a 30-minute walk each day. Daily walks outside provide much-needed fresh air and are a great way to clear the mind after a long day. The importance of mental health can never be underestimated, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic during this past year. The lives of everyone have been affected by managing work, families, socialization issues, and finances but it helps to remember those simple strategies that also save time, money and improve mood include keeping those raw fruits and vegetables packed and prepared in the fridge. Just some food for thought!
Brookie, K. L., Best, G. I., & Conner, T. S. (2018). Intake of Raw Fruits and Vegetables Is Associated with Better Mental Health Than Intake of Processed Fruits and Vegetables. Frontiers in psychology, 9, 487. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.00487
Chai, L. K., Yoong, S. L., Bucher, T., Collins, C. E., & Shrewsbury, V. A. (2019). Children’s Intake of Food from Non-Fast-Food Outlets and Child-Specific Menus: A Survey of Parents. Children (Basel, Switzerland), 6(11), 123. https://doi