At last month’s Georgia Mental Health Consumer Network Conference, Perry Wellness Center’s own Phyllis Smith presented an informative workshop for peer specialists from around the state. The annual conference, held at Epworth-by-the-Sea in St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, brings peers and staff together each year for education and fellowship.

Miss Phyllis serves as the wellness coach at Perry Wellness Center. Her workshop was titled, “Food and Mood – Making the Connection.” During the workshop, information was presented on the results of medical studies in the relatively new field of nutritional psychiatry. Many of these studies have shown that what a person eats can affect their mental health.

Nutrition WorkshopIt was noted that our food consumption has changed greatly over the last 50 years. The connection between the gut and the brain is also better understood today; e.g., the role of added sugar in mood issues.

The workshop focused on becoming aware of how one feels after a meal and identifying foods that might cause problems because of allergies or sensitivities. While the need to continue with prescribed medication was stressed, participants learned that improvements in diet can improve mood as well. “What can I do?” is the question that individuals were encouraged to ask, as they learned to take responsibility for the food they put in their bodies.

Take-aways from the workshop included a refrigerator card with a list of positive daily actions to take, a “clean” vegetable wallet shopping guide, an elimination diet guide, and a recipe leaflet for simple healthy dishes. 

Continuing educations units (CEUs) were provided to certified peer specialists in attendance. Phyllis Smith’s background includes a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences Education, and she has both professional and “real life” experience in the field of nutrition. We are grateful for her expertise at Perry Wellness Center and are glad that others had the recent opportunity to learn from her.

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