Fuelling Your Wellbeing: Choosing Foods for Mental & Physical Health

Our mental health and physical health are closely connected, meaning that when one isn’t doing so well, you might also notice a drop in the other. For example, you may find that regular exercise and keeping physically fit is a great way to lift your mood. Likewise, if you’ve ever been bedbound by an illness or injury, rendered unable to move as you normally would, you might experience feelings of isolation, sadness and depression.

As well as the effects of movement, what you put into your body also has a significant impact on your health. A nourishing diet can not only taste great, but can also do wonders for fuelling your body to support your physical and mental wellbeing, too. While it might seem confusing to know what the “right” foods to eat are with so much conflicting advice available, nutrition doesn’t have to be complicated.

In this article, we back to basics and explore some healthy food choices that can positively affect body and mind, contributing towards sustained energy levels, focus, mental clarity and a sense of wellbeing.

Fuelling Foods: Where to Begin

Before considering how you can make more conscious choices about what you’re eating to improve your wellbeing, it might be helpful to reflect on your current attitude towards food. Many take an “all or nothing” stance towards eating; have you ever found yourself declining a slice of cake because you’re being “good” that week?

Reframing your mindset to the idea that no food is inherently “good” or “bad” however, can help you develop a better relationship with nutrition. Rather, fuelling your wellbeing is about incorporating nutrient-dense foods into your diet that have proven health benefits, whilst still enjoying the other foods your body occasionally craves. In many cultures, food is at the centre of community and celebrations, so it’s important to allow yourself to partake in these occasions and enjoy ‘food for the soul’ without feeling guilty.

Foods to Make You Feel Great

Foods high in essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates, and fats can be great to include in your diet for your physical and mental wellbeing. This list is non-exhaustive, but here are some examples of foods rich in these qualities:


Berries are full of antioxidants, which can contribute towards boosting your immune system, as well as supporting skin and eye health. Regular consumption of berries has been associated with better cognitive function, including improved memory, focus, and overall brain health.

Not only can berries be a good snacking option but can also be an easy way to boost your breakfast by adding them to oats or yoghurt for extra flavour and fuel.

Nuts and Seeds

Another common perceived barrier to healthy eating is a lack of time. It’s no secret that juggling work and family life can be a struggle, and with so many convenient snacks available, it’s easy to fall into a habit of choosing the most convenient, rather than making more informed choices.

A helpful snack hack is to make your own ‘trail mix’, filled with nuts, seeds, dried cranberries or raisons, and keep it on hand for a quick and nutritious energy boost. You can grab a handful in between meetings or meals and it’s a great way to satiate your hunger for hours while also contributing toward heart and brain health. Walnuts are particularly noteworthy for their effects on the brain, potentially helping to improve memory.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as kale, spinach, bok choy, and cabbage are renowned for their health benefits. Packed full of micronutrients like vitamins E, C, and K, leafy greens can play a significant role in supporting your physical and mental wellbeing. Spinach is especially high in iron, an essential mineral, important for making red blood cells to carry oxygen around the body. An iron deficiency can cause weakness, fatigue, and poor concentration.


A protein powerhouse, eggs can be a brilliant way to kick off your day! And with eggs being so quick to prepare, you can head into work knowing you’ll be fuelled for what the morning brings. Everyone needs protein in their diets for healthy muscles and to repair body tissue, but if you frequently exercise, for example, this may mean you could find it beneficial to consume a higher amount. If that’s the case, protein shakes and bars can be a great way to increase your daily protein intake.

Legumes, Pulses, and Beans

This group includes foods such as chickpeas, edamame, black beans, lentils, and kidney beans. These can all be amazing sources of plant-based protein and are rich in fibre, potentially improving gut health. For a quick after-work meal, why not try out some black bean fajitas? Or, for a low-preparation dinner, a slow cooker bean chilli could be another great choice. These meals are also great to prepare ahead of your busy week, meal-prepping chilli that can later be paired with various sides and vegetables.

Fish and Seafood

Fish is particularly high in omega-3, which can contribute towards lowering blood pressure, maintaining normal cholesterol levels, and supporting healthy skin. Some of the most nutrient-dense fish to eat include salmon, haddock, and sardines, which can all be excellent sources of protein for mid-week mealtimes.

Incorporating more nourishing foods into your diet is exactly that – incorporating. Making changes to your diet doesn’t have to be drastic or restricting any of your favourite foods. Instead, making small swaps and adding in more foods like the above, where you can, may help you be on your way to improved physical and mental wellbeing. Ultimately, however, no one knows your body like you do. So, by exploring a diverse variety of nourishing foods, you can find what works the best for fuelling your body and mind.

Disclaimer: Here at Bright Horizons, we understand that you're the expert on your own life and body, and it's each to their own. The above has been written to inform, help provoke thought and reflection and inspire. It is not intended as medical advice. Always consult your GP for personal health, medical and nutritional guidance.