This blog was written by Andie Murphy and Taylah Steer, Health Promotion Practitioners at Peninsula Health.
So, what is #FeedHappiness?
‘Feed Happiness’ is an innovative and exciting new social media campaign which aims to improve the mental health of young people and families in Melbourne’s Southern Metropolitan region through food and healthy eating.
In a region-first approach, 19 community and health organisations have come together to inform community members about the link between a healthy diet and good mental health.
The campaign promotes good nutrition as a tool to support positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes and will run for four weeks from Monday 8 February to Sunday 7 March 2021.
‘Feed Happiness’ will provide support and resources to:
- Increase your understanding of food and its link to mental health and wellbeing
- Help you to identify specific foods that can support better mental health and wellbeing
- Build your knowledge and motivation to prepare and eat healthy foods
- Encourage and enable sharing and discussions about the connections between food and mental health and wellbeing.
Head to Feed Happiness Facebook and Instagram @feedhappiness_ to learn more about the foods for better mental health and wellbeing!
The foods we choose are often influenced by our emotions and stress levels, but studies have also shown that the opposite is also true: what we eat can make a real difference to how we feel, influencing our mood and anxiety levels and our risk for depression.
Research has consistently found that diets high in processed foods, or what we might refer to as ‘junk foods’, are associated with increased risk of common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety from birth through to old age, while healthier diets can protect and even prevent these disorders (Food and Mood Centre – Deakin University n.d.).
Research like this is what drives ‘Feed Happiness’ to increase the Southern Metropolitan communities understanding of food and it’s powerful link to mental health and wellbeing.
The importance of the campaign is highlighted amongst the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the community – with a mid-April COVID-19 survey revealing the pandemic having significant adverse impacts on the emotional wellbeing of Australians (ABS 2020).
Professor Felice Jacka, Director of the internationally-renowned Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, and president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research, says “Poor diet is now the leading cause of illness and early death around the world, while mental disorders are the main cause of global disability. The new knowledge that these two factors are linked gives us important new strategies for both preventing and treating mental disorders and improving brain health”.
Iain Edwards, Operations Director of Community Health at Peninsula Health, also acknowledges the link between food and mood. “There is a link between what you eat and how you feel. We want to help people boost their mood by providing information on how to include a variety of healthy foods such as fruit, vegetables, nuts and grains in their diet.”
So, let’s #FeedHappiness with plenty of vegetables, fruits, wholegrain cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds.
The more we add, the better we feel!
You can also check out and share these resources for additional information about food and its impact on mental health and wellbeing:
- Food and Mood Centre Food and mood centre
- Food for Mental Wellbeing – Peninsula Health Food-for-Mental-Wellbeing-Resource.pdf
- Recorded Presentation Food for mental wellbeing presentation
- Nutrition and mental health – Be You Be you nutrition-and-mental-health
- Eat for Health – Eating Well Eating Well
- Food – Head to Health Meaningful-life/physical-health/food
Please refer to these links for additional evidence about food and its impact on mental health and wellbeing:
- Deakin University, ‘Food & Mood Centre’. Viewed 8 February 2021 <https://foodandmoodcentre.com.au/>
- Jacka, F.N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R. et al. (2017) ‘A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial)’, BMC Medicine, 15, 23. Viewed 8 February 2021 <https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y>
- The Nutrition Source. ‘The Best Diet: Quality Counts’, Viewed 8 February 2021, < https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-weight/best-diet-quality-counts/>
- Jacka, F. N., Cherbuin, N., Anstey, K. J., Sachdev, P., & Butterworth, P. (2015) ‘Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation’, BMC medicine, 13, 215. Viewed 8 February 2021, <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4563885/>
- Deakin University (2017) ‘World-first trial shows improving diet can treat major depression: Media Release’. Viewed 8 February 2021 <https://www.deakin.edu.au/about-deakin/media-releases/articles/world-first-trial-shows-improving-diet-can-treat-major-depression>
Disclaimer: it is recommended that you consult with a medical professional / dietician before making any major changes to your diet. Information and contact details regarding Peninsula Health’s Nutrition and Dietetics services can be found via this link: https://www.peninsulahealth.org.au/services/services-a-e/allied-health/nutrition-and-dietetics/