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How Healthy Dinners Impact Your Wellbeing

Average read time: 5 minutes

Looking to improve your overall well-being? Healthier food choices can help. Transform your health & boost your well-being with delicious and nutritious dinners.

How Healthy Dinners Impact Your Wellbeing

Most professionals advocate the benefits of healthy eating to their clients, as a general way of living. The reality is that eating nutritious, nutrient-dense meals at night (and during the day, of course) has more than just a health benefit to the body. Healthy dinners and nutritious foods have been linked to other benefits too like improved mental health, enhanced mood, improved immunity, better sleep, and a general feeling of positive well-being.

In this blog, we’re going to unpack the science behind how healthy dinners impact well-being. We will give you ideas on how to make a healthy dinner to suggest to your clients and tips on how to make quick and healthy dinners that the whole family will enjoy.

The Science Behind Healthy Dinners and Wellbeing

What is it about healthy eating that makes us feel better? Let’s unpack the various links now between nutritious, healthy food and mood, disease prevention, and better sleep amongst other factors:

  1. Nutrient dense eating for mood

    When you eat a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients, you’re giving your brain various vitamins and minerals essential for optimal brain function. Certain nutrients like essential fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, play vital roles in the production of neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that regulate mood and emotions.

  2. Happy hormones are boosted

    Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of happiness and well-being. It is synthesized in the brain using the amino acid tryptophan found in protein-rich foods. Eating foods like turkey, chicken, eggs, nuts, seeds, and legumes can help boost serotonin levels and promote a positive mood.

  3. A more balanced blood sugar

    When you eat a healthy meal, you are essentially stabilising your blood sugar levels and reducing any drastic spikes or dips in sugar. When you eat sugary snacks and refined grains, the opposite effect occurs: your body and brain will experience a rapid rise in blood sugar followed by a large drop, leading to mood swings, fatigue, and irritability.

  4. Improved gut/brain connection

    The gut and the brain are closely connected through a network of nerves and chemicals. A healthy, diverse gut microbiome is supported by a diet rich in fibre, fruits, vegetables, and fermented foods, which can positively influence mood and mental health.

The link between nutritious food and disease prevention

Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in the body have been linked to an increased risk of mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety. A diet high in antioxidants, found in colourful fruits and vegetables, can help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, potentially improving mood and mental well-being.

The link between nutritious food and sleep

The quality and composition of our diet can significantly impact our sleep patterns and overall sleep quality. There are several common links between healthy dinners and good sleep, including:

  • Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, which is then converted into melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles. Foods rich in tryptophan, such as turkey, chicken, dairy products, nuts, seeds, and legumes, can promote the production of melatonin and improve sleep quality.
  • We’ve mentioned stable blood sugar levels in terms of general well-being, but it can also be a factor in enhancing better sleep. When blood sugar levels are stable, it prevents spikes and crashes that can disrupt sleep.
  • Magnesium and calcium are two minerals that play crucial roles in sleep regulation. Magnesium has a calming effect on the nervous system and can help relax muscles, promoting better sleep. Good sources of magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Calcium helps the brain use tryptophan to produce melatonin. Foods rich in calcium include dairy products, leafy greens, and fortified plant-based milk alternatives.
  • certain foods and beverages can interfere with sleep. Consuming caffeine, particularly close to bedtime, can make it difficult to fall asleep. Spicy and acidic foods, as well as heavy and fatty meals, can cause indigestion and disrupt sleep. It’s best to limit caffeine intake, avoid heavy meals before bedtime, and identify any specific foods that may personally affect your sleep quality.
  • Staying properly hydrated is essential for optimal sleep too. Dehydration can lead to discomfort and increase the likelihood of sleep disturbances.

What Makes a Dinner Healthy?

In general, if a client wants to know what a healthy dinner is, you can explain that for a meal to be considered healthy, it should include the following foods.

  1. Lean Protein

    Include a source of lean protein in your dinner, such as grilled chicken, fish, tofu, legumes, or lean cuts of beef or pork.

  2. Whole Grains

    Choose whole-grain options for carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat pasta, or whole-grain bread.

  3. Abundant Variety of Vegetables

    Fill your plate with a variety of vegetables to get a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fibre into your system.

  4. Healthy Fats

    Incorporate healthy fats into your meal, such as avocados, olive oil, nuts, or seeds.

Key factors to include as part of any healthy meal, not only dinners, include:

  • Ensure that 80% of your plate is taken up by nutrient-dense food including a range of rainbow-coloured foods, meaning a variety of vegetables and fruit, protein, and healthy starches.
  • Overeating is one of our population’s biggest weight gain influencers. Portion control is essential to prevent that feeling of bloatedness, indigestion, and weight gain.
  • Choose healthy cooking techniques like grilling, air-frying, or baking over techniques like deep frying your dinners.
  • Limit added sugars and added sodium in food which generally occur in pore-packed or processed foods.

Healthy Dinner Ideas

At WhatsForDinner, there are a wide variety of nutritional recipes and meal ideas to choose from. From plant-based meals to vegetarian meals, low-carb meals, and protein-rich recipes, you’ll find a recipe for every night of the week.

There are so many to choose from and this website is a great resource to offer your clients who are not sure how to make healthy dinners and nutritious meals.

Tips for Sticking to Healthy Dinners

Know that you understand why healthy eating is so important for you and your family, it’s time to start incorporating simple healthy dinner ideas into your weekly meals. Of course, we understand that everyone is busy, and making nutritious food can seem like a lot of extra work. However, it doesn’t need to be – if you follow these easy tips, making nutritious meals for the family will be a cinch.

  • Prepare a weekly meal plan. Instead of scrambling every evening to find what to cook, it is best to plan your meals at the start of the week so that you know what you’re going to be preparing each day.
  • Be prepared for your meals by shopping once a week for all the ingredients you’ll need for every meal that week.
  • If you’re dining out or have an impromptu dinner date, don’t fret. Check out the menu online and plan what you’re going to be having ahead of time. This will take the worry out of the meal or help you to avoid being tempted by less healthy options.

FAQs

Why is it important to have a healthy dinner?

A healthy dinner can help improve mood, enhance immunity, prevent diseases, and improve overall sleep.

How does healthy eating affect well-being?

Healthy dinners can improve mood, blood sugar levels, the gut microbiome, sleep, and an overall sense of well-being.

How does eating healthy affect your mental health?

The food we eat can have a significant impact on our mental health and overall well-being.

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