Food for the Brain Tea Party #mentalhealthawarenessweek

A few weeks ago it was mental health awareness week. Many people experience mental health issues or know of friends, family and colleague that have issues. I personally understand the influence of food on my mental health and know that many of my friends and clients do as well.

Mental Health Awareness week was about normalising mental health issues and being able to talk about them when we need to. After all they say that a problem shared is a problem halved, in my experience though that only counts if you have the right person to listen and talk to so you might want to shop around! It might be a friend, family member or a professional and there may well be more than one.

Alongside mental health awareness week, Food for the Brain a charity that provides nutritional information about how nutrition supports mental health came up with a great idea to hold a Tea Party with healthier versions of food. So me and a few friends got together and made some new foods, collected some donations for the charity and had a lovely experience - all focused on food! Thanks to everyone that made it a success! We raised £60 with a minimum of effort.

If you want to hold your own Tea Party then you can get a recipe pack from Food for the Brain, and you can follow my Food for Mood guidelines here:

  • Make cakes with fruit rather than sugar - e.g. Banana bread, or cakes made with pureed apple.

  • Look for recipes where the cakes are made out of almond flour, this has more protein than normal flour which is better for us (unless you have a nut allergy!).

  • If you are making a 'normal' cake with flour and sugar then reduce the sugar to a much lower amount and consider swapping it for maple syrup or honey which are regarded as better alternatives, however they are still 'sugar'. Make small cakes so people can eat them and enjoy them without the pressure to eat big pieces.

  • Include foods with good levels of protein, because even with low sugar cakes there is a lot of carbohydrate and that is going to affect blood sugar balancing for many of us.

  • Egg muffins

  • Cheese - matchbox pieces if you're watching your weight

  • Houmous - add beetroot for a tasty pink version

  • Crudities - carrots, celery and peppers

  • Nuts and seeds

  • Prawns

  • Olives

  • Meats

  • Make dips out of natural yoghurt - e.g. Ttazki - Natural yoghurt and cucumber

  • Or healthy fats e.g. Guacamole with avocado, tomatoes and onions

  • Avoid preservatives and additives

  • Check if your friends have any food allergies or intolerances, even if it isn't an officially diagnosed allergy they may feel better without certain foods such as gluten:

  • Swap gluten containing bread (white, brown, spelt, rye, barley) for breads made out of millet.

  • Swap gluten containing crackers for gluten free oatcakes, rice cakes or buckwheat crackers.

  • If they are dairy free then take a look at vegan foods which contain no milk

  • Drinks - Avoid sugary drinks in general, and even diet drinks. Have tea, herbal teas, coffee (offer decaf), water with fresh lemon, strawberries and herbs.

Have fun and let me know how you get on!

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