Nutrition & Mental Health: Healthy Habits at the ECMAs

April 25, 2019

Featured on Written By: Kathryn Hummel

The ECMA’s are upon us and many people will be traveling from all over the maritimes to attend this event hosted in Charlottetown, PEI from May 1st – 5th, 2019.

During this upcoming festival and conference, Unison will be taking part in the premier of the film, The Song & The Sorrow with a Q&A to follow at The Guild on Saturday May 4th at 3:00PM. This film is about Prince Edward Island’s own Catherine MacLellan, the daughter of legendary singer/songwriter Gene MacLellan and her journey to understand her father and face her own struggles with mental illness.

The East Coast Music Association recently released a mental health survey revealing a lot of people are struggling within our industry.

Rolling into this week, we want to focus on mental health and the importance of making healthy choices to fuel your brain and body, especially during a busy time like the ECMA’s.

In a high-stress industry like the music industry, it’s important to connect the dots between the demands of our jobs, our nutritional habits, and how it affects our mental health. With varied hours of work, this can also impact our eating and sleeping patterns. As a result, one may find it difficult to make healthy food choices.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience mental-health conditions such as depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in their lifetime. Among other factors that contribute to mental illness, our changing diet is thought to play a role. In a 2014 paper published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology, Australian scientists said the transition away from the whole-foods diet our grandparents ate – one based on nutrient-rich vegetables, fruits and whole grains – to a steady fare of nutrient-poor, high-calorie and highly processed foods has been associated with increases in depression and other mental disorders.

Compared to other health-related changes (such as quitting smoking or jogging each day), consuming more fruits and vegetables is easier and less time-consuming. Increasing these foods into your everyday routine will also provide you with important nutrients such as fibre, vitamins, minerals and unlike medications, fruits and vegetables do not have a long list of negative side effects.* In short, adding fruits and vegetables to your diet may be a safe bet. So, try a variety of vegetables and fruits (the colours of the rainbow) and pick a few favorites. Then, incorporate them into your diet. Start small, perhaps by adding a piece of fruit to your breakfast, and go from there.

*Healthy eating habits are not a substitute for therapy or medication. If you are struggling with mental health, Unison offers free Counselling & Health Solutions to the Canadian music community. 


  • When booking accommodations check if a fridge is available
  • Bring a small cooler bag or ice pack with you to keep fresh foods cold
  • Make time to stop for groceries, focus on portable snacks and breakfast items like oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, bagged veggies, granola bars, whole grain or rice crackers etc.
  • If purchasing packaged items, consider reading the labels and be mindful of the quality of ingredients and try to stray away from any high sugar and/or processed products
  • When ordering food from a restaurant consider items that are baked, grilled, broiled or poached
  • Incorporate veggies into all your meals, i.e. with your eggs for breakfast, salad and a protein for lunch, and a variety cooked alongside your main meal at dinner
  • Enjoy a colourful meal – Try making half of your plate vegetables and fruits
  • Choose dark mixed green salads with vegetables or fruits instead of salads like: taco, pasta, potato or Caesar
  • Consider whole grain options: quinoa, rice, pasta & bread
  • Consider incorporating plant-based protein options into your meals
  • Consider whole or cut vegetables and fruits instead of juice

For more tips on incorporating more balance to your meal choices, read more at Canada’s Food Guide.

When planning your festival/conference schedule, also plan when you can have regular meals and snacks throughout the day. Given the location of Prince Edward Island and the accessibility to local food, we’re pleased to highlight some of the many healthy options available to delegates during their stay in downtown Charlottetown.


Throughout the week, use the tag #ECMAfuel to share how you’re staying healthy during this busy time!


142 Great George Street, Charlottetown

Leonhard’s has made it their priority to source out quality, natural ingredients resulting in healthy and delicious meals. Why? Because this is a philosophy they hold true to their hearts. They provide you, their guest, with food that they would serve their families at home. The natural way is the healthy way.


Monday – Sunday 9:00AM – 5:00PM


133 Queen St., Charlottetown

Juice Co., takes pride in giving their customers healthy meal and snack options that fit their busy and active lifestyles. They offer smoothies, fresh juice and vegetable squeezes, wraps, paninis, and salads. They’re the only place in Prince Edward Island that serves fresh wheatgrass and sugarcane juice. No matter what you choose to order, they guarantee your meal is made from the highest quality ingredients.


Monday – Friday 8:30AM – 6:30PM

Saturday & Sunday: 11:00AM – 6:30PM


Confederation Court Mall – 2nd Floor 134 Kent Street., Charlottetown

Café Thomas Martin’s specialty is fast and healthy meals to go that are made from scratch using local ingredients. Visit them for organic, fair trade coffee, breads baked daily in-house, and daily specials for breakfast and lunch.


Monday to Friday: 8:00AM – 4:00PM

Saturday: 9:00AM – 3:30PM

Sunday: Closed


138 Great George St, Charlottetown

The first café of its kind on Prince Edward Island, Beanz has been a fixture in the downtown Charlottetown community since 1995. Their charming café provides the ideal atmosphere for a lingering lunch but speedy service from the friendly counter staff can also get you back to work if you’re in a hurry!


Monday – Friday: 7:00AM – 5:00PM

Saturday: 8:00AM – 4:00PM   

Sunday: Closed


218 University Ave., Charlottetown

You’ll find seaweed, kombucha, and fermented vegetables on Sarah’s menu, but you won’t see animals, eggs, honey, or dairy with one exception; one fish dish. My Plum, My Duck is a whole-foods macrobiotic restaurant.  Dishes are all nutritious, prepared from scratch, with local, organic, ingredients. My Plum, My Duck caters not only to vegans and vegetarians, but diners with allergies and other special dietary needs will find something delicious to eat here, as well. Located on University Avenue, near the Euston Street intersection, My Plum, My Duck offers eat-in service, take-out, delivery, and grab-and-go lunches.


Mondays: Closed

Lunch: Tuesdays – Fridays: 12:00PM – 2:30PM

Dinner: Tuesdays – Saturdays: 5:00PM – 8:00PM

Brunch: Sunday: 10:00AM – 2:00PM


257 Queen St., Charlottetown

Stir It Up is a 100% vegan grab and go cafe and market, located in the heart of beautiful Charlottetown, P.E.I. serving up fresh and tasty comfort food.


Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Friday: 11:00AM – 3:00PM

Saturday: 11:00AM – 7:00PM

Sunday: Closed


123 Richmond St., Charlottetown

Receiver Coffee’s focus is on fresh, quality ingredients and local where possible! Pick up a bag of coffee, sample unique breakfast or brunch items, or savour the freshly baked goods that have become a community staple.


Monday – Thursday 7:00AM – 7:00PM

Friday – Saturday 7:00AM – 8:00PM

Sunday 7:00AM – 7:00PM


100 Belvedere Ave., Charlottetown

Charlottetown’s original and biggest farmers’ market. Purchase local, organic produce, fish, meats, baked goods, preserves, roasted coffee, and speciality teas. Plus foods for those with special dietary needs! Serving foods from around the world, the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market has something for every taste and desire.


Saturdays: 9:00AM – 2:00PM 

You Might Also Like