What everyone should know about food & mental health | World Health Day 2022



What everyone should know about food & mental health | World Health Day 2022

Mental health care often pays little attention to the importance of healthy eating. While more and more is known about how nutritious food can be for your mind. U-center chef Marc Peters (42) tells you how it works and how U-center implements healthy food. He also reveals two of his secret cooking tips. After all, today is World Health Day 2022, the annual theme day of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“Recently one of our vegetarian clients asked if there were any meatballs left,” Marc says. This happens often and it’s always amusing to me. No meat, eating fewer calories or a keto diet, you can approach food differently.” How do you feed your body and mind, according to him?

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Compliments to the chef

Chopping, mixing, seasoning, roasting, tasting… This is how Marc and his colleagues conjure up the tastiest dishes on your plate. For as long as U-center has been around (fourteen years). Before that, he worked as a chef in the hotel that now houses the clinic. “It was a big question mark what awaited me and the two other chefs. But it gives us great satisfaction. All the compliments we receive must mean we are doing something right.”

Meet de chef
'Meet the chef' is one of the success ingredients. The chefs sit down with a group of guests every week. What do they want to see and smell when the lid comes off? And do they have any comments or questions? “We can cook all kinds of food, but if there's no demand, we both have nothing.” For example, the guests indicated that, in addition to the luxury food, they also sometimes wanted 'food from home'. Lasagna one day and veal escalope the next. “We make everything fresh here,” emphasizes Marc. Nothing in our kitchen is ready-made. That way we know exactly what's in it." And he thinks that is definitely a good thing.

No need for diets

Many people come to U-center with allergies and dietary requirements. “It is sometimes a bit of a puzzle, but this keeps our work challenging.” Every day, there are meat, fish, and vegetarian options on the menu. "Everybody is different. It is difficult to maintain a way of eating that does not suit you.”

Marc himself has a practical attitude towards healthy eating. “Just make sure you get enough nutrients and eat several different times of the day. Then you won't get hungry, and you won't reach for the cookies so quickly. It also helps to be a little creative. Don't like fruit? Perhaps a smoothie in which you disguise the taste with other ingredients. The same for ‘greens’: bake them in an omelet or hide them in a quiche. Then you are often doing well enough.”

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The influence of healthy eating on your mental health

More and more is known about the influence of healthy eating on your psyche. For example, people with an unhealthy lifestyle, who eat little fruit and vegetables, for instance, are twice as likely to have a mood disorder. This is especially true for depression. The Trimbos-institute researched this, amongst others. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids can calm adults with depression and children with ADHD. This is apparent from research by the Open University.

There is also increasing evidence that your gut flora and psychological health influence each other. For example, the Brain Foundation supports research into the role of abnormalities in the gut in bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Marc: “That is why lifestyle management is also a permanent part of U-center's treatment program. In addition to healthy food, it’s important to also get enough exercise and sleep.”

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Marc’s secret cooking tips on World Health Day 2022

With a healthy lifestyle you kill two birds with one stone: you nourish your mental and physical health. That is why Marc has two handy cooking tips to share. The first: “Cook vegetables as little as possible. Only hard vegetables, such as carrots. But you can also cut those in smaller pieces. Zucchini, green asparagus, bell pepper… just stir-fry them. That way the taste and most nutrients are preserved. And it's also nice and crunchy."

The second: “Fry briefly or at a low temperature, also to preserve the taste and nutrients. For example, we often put meat and poultry in the oven for up to an hour. In our restaurant you always eat a delicious juicy chicken. Perhaps that should be the theme of next year's World Health Day: how to get the most out of your food.”