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Dr. Lytal Pichon, 

Psy.D. Licensed Psychologist


An exploration into holistic wellness and the relationship between nutrition and mental health.

As a clinical psychologist, what made you interested in the connection between nutrition and psychology? Were you noticing that common ailments, such as anxiety and mood changes were linked to a poor diet and/or stressful lifestyle?

I actually unintentionally became interested in nutritional psychology through my own personal health journey. My sleep was always problematic, and I always felt fatigued, so I started exploring natural solutions because I did not want to take sleeping pills that my doctors tried to get me to start. As I started learning about diet and lifestyle changes, I kept coming across topics related to mental health and diet. Because I’m a psychologist, the topic captured my attention and I started digging and found the world of nutritional psychology. I also started learning about the way our bodies can be the root cause of mental health symptoms. I then started realizing that almost every single one of my clients had some sort of chronic medical issue; IBS, chronic fatigue, head injury, or a very poor diet.


“...serotonin, which contributes to feeling happy, is also produced in the gut.”


We keep hearing about the gut-brain axis/connection. Can you give us a simple, layman's explanation?

The gut-brain axis is the link between our GI tract (really the enteric nervous system) and our brain. This communication is bidirectional and can impact our mood and our GI symptoms. We now understand that our gut significantly impacts our brain health and therefore, our mood. For example, the neurotransmitter serotonin, which contributes to feeling happy, is also produced in the gut. So, if there’s an imbalance in our gut, we can potentially feel it psychologically.

In your experience, what are the worst gut health offenders? And what are some types of foods we can eat to nourish and heal the gut?

There are some basic well-known gut health offenders, but it’s important to remember that people can have various underlying imbalances that can lead to sensitivities to specific foods that others may not be sensitive to. Sugar is a known gut health disruptor, along with processed foods. We want to eat as clean as possible in order to feel as good as possible. So, think- natural, real food that was living at some point- plants and animals. Dr. Uma Naidoo, a well known nutritional psychiatrist, recommends testing out eliminating gluten and dairy to see if it helps ease our symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, most of the food grown in the US, even organic, is suboptimal in its nutrient density, mainly due to depleted soil and long transportation times between producer and consumer. For this reason, even if we eat a healthy, wholesome diet, we do not actually receive the full benefits of the food. Nutritional supplementation works to correct these nutritional deficiencies (that can in turn help heal the gut-brain connection) How important do you think it is to eat a balanced diet and take proper supplementation?

Yes, for many of us, eating a healthy diet may not be enough for the reasons you mentioned. I definitely believe diet comes first, especially when it comes to avoiding certain foods that can make us feel bad, but also as far as providing our bodies with the proper nutrition. I think high quality supplements are important for so many of us in order to “supplement” a healthy diet which might be lacking in certain nutrients that can help us feel much better.

“Our bodies change in response to our emotions and our thoughts.”


How important is movement, mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude to reducing stress and improving overall well being? Why should people implement these self-care practices into their lives?

SO important! Exercise has been shown to be basically just as effective in treating depression as antidepressants, so I recommend movement to almost every client of mine. Mindfulness, meditation, and gratitude are so useful in changing our perception which also changes the way our bodies function. When we focus on the here and now, and not on the past or future as much, we can avoid the rumination and worry that comes along with feelings of depression and anxiety.

Ladybug Potions believes in the power of your thoughts and their influence on your health. Can you explain how thoughts have a direct effect on our mental health, and therefore, overall health?

Just as our bodies impact our mental health, our mental health impacts our bodies. It’s a two-way street. Our bodies change in response to our emotions and our thoughts. Simply changing our thoughts leads to physiological changes in our bodies. That means that it’s extremely important to look at our inner dialogue and what we are telling ourselves that might be leading to mental health symptoms. Our emotions are based on our thoughts- our inner voice that is constantly running in our heads. The problem is that sometimes our thoughts are slightly inaccurate and we then based our emotions on these inaccurate thoughts.  

Ladybug Potions believes in the importance of holistic wellness and in the alignment and balance between physical, emotional, and mental health. Do you agree that focusing on just one aspect of health will diminish your ability to achieve overall wellness?

Definitely! Health is health- our bodies need to be healthy in order to prevent illness- including mental illness. We need to focus on both our physical and emotional health. As far as our mental health goes, we need to evaluate our thoughts that may or may not be rational and what beliefs/experiences led to these thoughts as well as our brain health to ensure we are functioning at an optimal level. 

“I think getting sun in the morning is an easy and effective way to improve our mood and sleep.”


What are the key takeaways that people should know to improve their overall health and wellbeing? For instance, what can people begin to do in order to optimize their wellness?

The good thing is there’s a lot we can do. I focus on movement, diet, sleep, and relaxation with all of my clients. I believe this is the foundation to health. Start small and just stick to one thing for a few weeks and then slowly build on that.

Ladybug Potions loves wellness tips. Will you share any tips or tricks that have helped you lead a more balanced lifestyle?

I love getting more sunlight! I think getting sun in the morning is an easy and effective way to improve our mood and sleep. Getting some sun in the morning (about 15-30 minutes) can increase serotonin levels throughout the day which can then increase melatonin at night at the appropriate time we need to sleep.

Ladybug Potions believes in the importance of holistic wellness and in the alignment and balance between physical, emotional, and mental health. Do you agree that focusing on just one aspect of health will diminish your ability to achieve overall wellness?

Definitely! Health is health- our bodies need to be healthy in order to prevent illness- including mental illness. We need to focus on both our physical and emotional health. As far as our mental health goes, we need to evaluate our thoughts that may or may not be rational and what beliefs/experiences led to these thoughts as well as our brain health to ensure we are functioning at an optimal level. 

Lytal Pichon, Psy.D is a licensed psychologist in private practice. Her focus is on incorporating both the mind and the body in treatment through cognitive behavioral therapy and nutritional psychology. Connect with her on IG @thehealthypsych.