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This content is taken from the University of Reading's online course, Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People. Join the course to learn more.

What is good to eat?

Research in nutrition and health has started to identify some types of foods that seem to have a psychological effect.


Flavonoids are a group of nutrients that are found in a wide range of fruits and vegetables. They influence the colour of the food and have protective effects on many aspects of health including heart disease and cancer. Recently there has been much interest in the effects of flavonoids on mental health and mental functioning including mood, attention and memory. Fortunately, flavonoids are very high in many fruits and berries including blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. Including brightly coloured fruit and vegetables every day will ensure you and your teenager, benefit from a wide range of sources.

A photograph showing a range of berries including strawberries, raspberries and blueberries

Complex carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients, they make up a very large part of our daily diet and the right ones are an important source of energy. They’re essential to health because as they pass through the digestive system they’re broken down into glucose – providing our brain and body with their primary fuel. Two categories are used when referring to carbohydrates, simple and complex.

Simple carbohydrates such as enriched flour, found in refined breads, pastas, and sugary foods, provide calories but few nutrients. They fill us up and can be associated with comfort and satisfaction. They’re often found in junk and heavily processed foods.

Complex carbohydrate sources such as wholegrain breads, starchy vegetables and beans deliver fibre, as well as vitamins and minerals. Complex carbohydrates are digested more slowly and help us keep our blood sugar levels steady between meals.

Left: Photo of a sliced loaf of wholegrain bread. Right picture is a photo of a quinoa, mango and black bean salad

Do you have any recipes or suggestions for healthy food items that you would like to share with us? Add them to the comments area at the bottom of this Step or share photos of your ideas and/or recipes on this picture wall. Please note that this link takes you to an external site Padlet - you can find information on using Padlet here.

This Step references from book: Teenage Depression: A CBT Guide For Parents by Parkinson, M. & Reynolds, S. (2015). Help your child beat their low mood. An indispensable guide for parents of a depressed teenager.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding Depression and Low Mood in Young People

University of Reading