Healthy Eating and Mental Health

October 11, 2023

Keley Smith-Keller

There actually might be something to that old adage “You are what you eat.” 

According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the American Society for Nutrition (ASN), the foods we eat do affect our mental health (ASN, 2023). A 2019 review of food/mood research found that increasing the amount of fruits and vegetables we consume daily positively impacts psychological health (Tuck et al., 2019). Healthy diets provide more vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and fiber from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, which, in turn, can reduce inflammation and alter neurotransmitters. This can reduce symptoms of depression. 

So, to feel better, eat better! Here are some tips from Best College’s Guide to Nutrition (September 2023):

  • 6-8 ounces of grain per day for women; 8-10 ounces daily for men
  • Protein: 5-6.5 ounces daily for women; 6.5-7 ounces daily for men
  • Dairy (natural cheese, yogurt, milk): 3 cups for both women and men
  • Fruits and vegetables: 4-5 cups for women; 5-5.5 cups for men
  • Limit caffeine (no more than 4 cups of coffee per day)
  • Consume healthy fats (olive oil, canola oil); watch sodium intake; and limit refined carbohydrates.

Dining halls/college cafeterias can be overwhelming. But by remembering your food groups and planning ahead, you can navigate available food options to help you eat healthily. And, eating healthily will enhance your mood.



American Society for Nutrition (2023, April 18). How to boost mental health through better nutrition. American Society for Nutrition.,to%20reduce%20symptoms%20of%20depression

Best Colleges (2023, September 14). The student’s guide to nutrition. Best Colleges.

Tuck, N.J., Farrow, C., & Thomas, J.N. (July 2019). Assessing the effects of vegetable consumption on the psychological health of healthy adults: A systematic review of prospective research. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (110), 1, pp. 196-211.



Contact Keley Smith-Keller at keley.smith-keller@mountmartyedu for more information on appointments.