Gerrie Hughes

Gestalt Psychotherapy, Counselling and Supervision

in Penarth, Cardiff, South Wales.


Discover more about Food and Mental Health:

Stress: Anxiety: Depression: Therapy FAQs

Further Resources:

Food and Mental Health

For Health Practitioners and interested individuals.

Especially (but not exclusively) for health practitioners:

A shopping-list is not a meal. A lot of effort is needed to transform words on paper so that it becomes a delight to savour and a source of deep nourishment. What follows is an extract of the 'provisions' on offer and there is a lot more available. I recommend them to you because they were tasty for me, but I encourage you to engage with this and any other inventory of goods with your mind and all your senses, according to your own appetite and situation.

Here is a 'menu' for integrating new learning into your work with clients (or into your life):

Inform yourself

Signpost clients to social media, websites, books and possibly other specialist practitioners where appropriate.

Review limits to competence while integrating new learning into practice. (If you are a health practitioner then you may have a supervisor to help with this, or you may know Reflective Practice techniques to help you shed light on your experience.)

There are many resources connected to food and mental health in books, articles, podcasts and websites. Here are some that have been valuable to me or recommended by colleagues.

Factors underlying relationships with Food

Here are some books, websites and social media output that I have found helpful. I initially thought about dividing them into sources that may be useful for you as a practitioner, and those that might be helpful for clients wanting to inform themselves about healthy ingredients and basic cooking, but there is so much crossover, I decided to make just one list.

‘The Food Mood Connection’ by Uma Naidoo MD is organised into chapters relating to particular mental health disorders. She describes the foods to avoid, and those that are known to benefit people who may be experiencing them. 

‘Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health’ by Leslie Korn and ‘The Food and Mood Handbook’ by Amanda Geary have both been useful sources for me. Each of them talks about nutrition in general and provides specific sources of the various essential nutrients and how they can be combined into meals. They also offer suggestions for how people can approach making beneficial changes in their diet.

‘Brainchanger’ by Professor Felice Jacka discusses current research and offers suggestions for helpful dietary changes.

‘How to Build a Healthy Brain’ by Kimberley Wilson is a general overview of mental health that also discusses food. Her Instagram feed @foodandpsych is a helpful ‘bite-sized’ guide to good food choices.

‘Potatoes not Prozac’ by Kathleen DesMaisons is a useful resource for people who are particularly sensitive to sugar.

‘The Hidden Half of Nature’ by Montgomery and Biklé explores the nature of micro-organisms and the connection between those in the soil and those in our bodies.

In Defence of Food by Michael Pollan

First Bite: How We Learn to Eat by Bee Wilson Mad Diet by Suzanne Lockhart

Spoon Fed by Tim Spector

The Food Mood Connection by Uma Naidoo

Understanding Your Eating: How to Eat and Not Worry about It by Julia Buckroyd


Julia Buckroyd Understanding your eating

Links to academic articles on eating disorders:



Food - History and Current Environment


Two books by Carolyn Steel that have been invaluable for me for understand- ing the history of food, our current situation in relation to food production and distribution, and how a more sustainable, nourishing future might evolve:

‘Hungry City’ originally published by Vintage in 2009. I use the 2013 edition. ‘Sitopia’ published by Chatto & Windus in 2020.


For a description of the role of microorganisms in our bodies, and in the soil in which our food is grown. Co-written by a professor of geomorphology (land forms) and a biologist and environmental planner who are in a partner relationship

‘The Hidden Half of Nature’ by David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé. Pub- lished in 2016 by Norton.

Books with associated themes:

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer 

Captive State by George Monbiot


Engaging and informative discussion, hosted by Nathalie Nahai, with Tessa Clarke, CEO and co-founder of Olio, a food-sharing app that enables neigh- bours to share any surpluses.


The Hive Podcast No.44 ‘Food, Sustainability and your Power to Change the World’


WRAP – For addressing food waste issues

UN on Food waste

‘Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’

EAT/Lancet Commission

Difference and Diversity - Consciousness

Gordon Wheeler’s speech at Budapest


Vervaeke, John. 2020. Awakening from the Meaning Crisis. Ep10.

Future Developments


BBC Food Programme

Lab-grown meat 18th April 2021

Genome editing and the future of food 7th March 2021


Complex systems

Food, art and spirituality


From What If to What Next Episode 17 Hosted by Rob Hopkins

‘What if indigenous wisdom could save the world?

Sherri Mitchell (Weh’na Ha’mu Kwasset) (USA) and Tyson Yunkaporta (Australia) share their ancestral wisdoms.,

Bitter (film)

General Related Topics


Much Depends on Dinner by Margaret Visser The Circadian Code by Dr. Satchin Panda BBC Sounds:

The Food Programme

30th August 2020 ‘Sitopia’

19th July 2020 ‘Food and Mood: how eating affects tour mental health’. (many other general editions of the programme have relevance)

‘Free Thinking’ 2011 Susie Orbach

The Guardian articles:

Can food change your mood?

Dr Luisa Dillner. 17 Dec 2017

Food for thought . . . the smart way to better brain health Lisa Mosconi, 13th October 2018

Poor diet link to riding cases of depression

Jo Revill, 5th January 2006


COVID symptom App which is also powered by ZOE, the gut/diet research resource.

Plastic free living

Further Resources: Stress

The ability to react to threat is an evolutionary adaptation that has contributed to the survival and success of our species. Our bodies have developed what is called the Autonomic Nervous System so that we can instantly switch all our resources to saving ourselves when we are in danger, or when we believe we are. The system has two possibilities: the Sympathetic Nervous System that enables us to fight, flee or freeze and the Parasympathetic Nervous System which allows us to relax, rest and digest. 

Humans need a certain amount of stress in order to feel alive, and that varies according to the individual, and the circumstances in which we find ourselves. For example, it is more possible to deal positively with stress if we feel personally resourced. Physical fitness, skill, experience and being part of a trusted team all resource us for facing the inevitable stress in our lives. If we are ill, or alone, or feeling overwhelmed we have fewer resources to call on.

Problems can arise when individuals have been in stressful situations for long periods. Staff in the NHS may well be feeling like this in these post-Covid times, so might teachers and others who have been responding to what has been an extraordinary challenge. The fight, flight, freeze aspect of the nervous system is permanently active, allowing no time for the body to rest and restore itself. This can affect our breathing, digestion and the immune system and, potentially, any part of the body. 

It has repercussions for our mental health too. Being unable to switch off, we can lose our delight in the small, but essential aspects of being. Having no resources left to enjoy relationships is a common consequence. Life becomes meaningless and hollow, the future bleak... Some people describe this as depression. Our minds and imaginations can become over-active and keep us in a constant state of anxiety, affecting sleep and the ability to relax generally.

Further Resources: Therapy FAQs

What is the difference between psychotherapy and counselling?

Sometimes they look very much like the same thing. After a lot of thought, I believe that any difference might be influenced by the training the practitioner has undertaken. There is a huge range in the depth and timescales of the trainings available, depending on the theoretical background of the particular approach and the client group with whom a practitioner could work. Usually ‘psychotherapy’ trainings require the student to do a placement in a statutory mental health environment, and to be in therapy themselves for most of their training, which is often 7 years or more. ‘Counselling’ trainings do not usually require a placement and permit personal development approaches other than personal therapy. They are usually shorter, taking around 4 years to complete.

There is a whole range of approaches available including: psychodynamic, cognitive behavioural, person-centred, integrative and more. The approach I trained in is called Gestalt Psychotherapy.

What is Gestalt?

The Gestalt approach belongs among a group of approaches that came into prominence in the mid to late 20th century, that are called ‘humanistic’. This reflects the egalitarian and compassionate nature of this kind of work. In my experience, the various approaches borrow from one another, so may share current interests and trends. What is emphasised now is the relational nature of the process, and its embededness in a wider field that encompasses society, values and ethics and environmental concerns.

How could psychotherapy or counselling help me?

Psychotherapy and counselling help us make sense for ourselves about what it means to be human, and how we relate to the world in which we participate. The therapeutic relationship becomes an environment within which new possibilities can be discovered and explored.

How long would it take?

It depends on what you want to achieve. Realistically, the minimum amount of sessions to achieve anything significant is 4. Most people find 6 sessions a good amount to make sustainable changes. Others may choose to continue for months or years, appreciating the weekly session as a resource for a period of time. Usually a strategy that includes a possible timescale evolves at the initial session.

How to contact?

Email me through the link in the sidebar or call or text me on 07779 198917. We can discuss whether I think I can help, and how to go forward.

Working Online

These points are especially relevant for online work:

Suitable Space 

For online work you would need to have a space available for the agreed time in which you feel secure and comfortable, and where you would not be overheard. You may need to think about how you would like to transition from speaking with me back into your regular circumstances. Homeworking arrangements may make this a bit challenging. 


I’m happy to work with a range of platforms and have a secure internet connection with enough bandwidth to handle the requirements. Please think about whether you also have access to this. Would other users take up some of the capacity your system might require?