Post written by Devin Golden of The Recovery Village
No surprise here: Exercise routines, including one as challenging as CrossFit, can tremendously
help a person’s mental well-being. A feeling of accomplishment improves a person’s self-view,
and having an activity to focus on is another way to keep our minds away from negative
As Amy Kievit wrote in CrossFit Journal of her struggles with anxiety and stress, “My only real
salvation during that time was knowing I would feel good the next time I went to a CrossFit
class. I held on to that knowledge to help get me through some rough parts. Some days it was
the only thing I looked forward to.”
There is a very real link between mental health and substance use disorders, such as addiction
to drugs or alcohol, and people who struggle with one often struggle with the other. Mental
illnesses such as anxiety or depression can lead to misusing drugs or alcohol as a way of self-
medicating, and improving one’s own mental wellness is vital.
Did you also know there is a link between nutrition and mental wellness? Also, did you know of
the connection between what you eat and drink and being prepared for an extensive CrossFit
regimen? It seems physical and mental empowerment are connected to what you put in your
body, and changing your nutrition and diet toward healthier substances is a positive start to a
more physically fit future.
Here are some do’s and don'ts for food and drink types when building a nutrition plan. These
properly coincide with a CrossFit regimen because they increase strength and energy, making
people more motivated and situated for success. Additionally, they improve mental wellness,
which deters people from possibly relying on drugs or alcohol for positive feelings.
Pro: High-Folate Foods
Spinach, kale, fruits, nuts, beans and whole-grain nutrients all contain a large amount of folate,
a B-vitamin that makes DNA and other genetic material. These foods reduce the potential for
depression by regulating serotonin, a chemical that manages a person’s mood. Additionally,
consuming these foods help increase a person’s daily energy.
Caffeine is bad if you’re strictly looking out for your own mental wellness and physical health.
This substance, which is often referred to as a drug due to its potential for being addictive, can
cause panic attacks in people who have anxiety disorders. While commonly used for an energy
burst, drinking a large amount of caffeine can have the opposite effect since the body becomes
reliant on the substance for energy spikes. A feeling of fatigue is common for people who
consume caffeine regularly but haven’t had a caffeinated drink in a while. For people who are in
CrossFit regimens, relying on caffeine for energy spikes can be detrimental to their success
since many caffeinated drinks also include sugar and are high in calories.
Pro: Vitamin D
The risk of depression increases for people who have a Vitamin D deficiency. Foods such as
salmon and tuna, along with liquids like milk and orange juice, include a healthy amount of
Con: Fried Foods
Fried foods are nutritionally void and include a lot of unhealthy trans-fat, which can deplete a
person’s energy. Not only that, but the food can cause weight gain, which can make a person
feel worse about their physical appearance and potentially lead to depression. There’s also a
biological effect of consuming fried foods. According to Psychcentral.com, foods high in sodium
and oils can increase the risk of depression.
Pro: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can be helpful in treating depression and providing a more stable mood for
people. Examples of foods with this substance are chia seeds, eggs, seafood and spinach. Not
only do omega-3 fatty acids help with mental wellness, they also benefit people who are in a
“Nuts and seeds are packed with nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, which will fuel your
recovery after an intense CrossFit WOD,” Karla Williams, a CrossFit enthusiast and Healthy
Kitchen Executive Chef at Hilton Head Health, a weight-loss retreat and wellness spa in South
Carolina, told the website eatthis.com that nuts and seeds include nutrients and omega-3 fatty
acids, both of which fuel your physical recovery following a CrossFit workout.
Consuming alcohol presents the risk of building a tolerance for alcohol and eventually a
dependency on the substance, which could lead to a substance use disorder. Drinking alcohol
also can affect a person’s sleep and diet. CrossFit requires a healthy and regular intake of
nutritional foods and liquids, along with a healthy amount of sleep each night.