Without tightly controlled trials, it is unclear how big an impact following a Mediterranean diet might have. However, it is certainly worth showcasing Mediterranean dishes and ingredients in menus and catering choices, as customers and the workforce focus more on health and wellbeing awareness within their daily lives.
This comes from findings in Molecular Psychiatry after they reviewed 41 studies published within the last 8 years. Within the study analysis, the Mediterranean diet had the strongest link to a protective effect against depression symptoms. They found that the plant based-diet consisting of fruit, veg, grains, fish, nuts and olive oil appears to have positive benefits in terms of mood.
The BBC reports how experts say trials are now needed to test this theory and to confirm whether depression can be treated with diet and targeted trials are needed to establish evidence of the potential link. However, Dr Camille Lasalle, who carries out analysis at University College London, said the evidence currently points to the idea that the foods we eat could make a difference in lowering our risk of depression, even if there is no definitive clinical proof yet.
People may be less likely to prepare and eat healthy meals when they are feeling depressed, so the study could just show that people prone to depression have less healthy diets. Also, people who eat healthy diets tend to have generally healthier lifestyles, including taking more exercise, which is thought to protect against depression. Contract Caterers offering a service within a work environment can offer take away preprepped home cooking packs, as well as promotion and awareness of food choice impact.
The research comes only days before the news that only four hospitality operators signed up to Time to Change’s employer pledge to address the stigma around mental health: Pizza Hut, Gregg’s and contract caterers SSP and Compass Group. Caterers need to be doing more to promote wellbeing, not only to their customers, but within their teams. Time to Change, a campaign affiliated to mental health charity Mind that addresses the stigma around mental health, was launched in 2007. More than 850 businesses in the UK have signed its employer pledge to commit to change how we think and act around mental health in the workplace.
While any insight into diet or lifestyle factors that might improve mental wellbeing is welcome, it's important to recognise the limitations of this research.