Manage your mood with your food
An age-old saying says that ‘you are what you eat.’ While we all know this is true for our physical self, we often forget the implications of our diet on our mental health. Have you ever noticed how the food you consume has the power to affect your mood? No?
Try thinking of the last time you felt an intense surge of happiness after eating ice cream or when you felt sluggish and tired after eating junk food for the whole day. Do you see the relationship now? In short, food does not just fuel our bodies; it is also extremely important for our minds. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we want to bring awareness to the link between food and mental health is important.
Knowing what foods, we should and shouldn’t be eating can be confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests what we eat may also affect how we feel and our physical health.
Improving your diet may help improve your mood, give you more energy, and help you think more clearly. We all react differently to the things in our diet. But there are some foods and drinks that may affect how we feel, in different ways. These tips may help some of us think about what to eat and drink.
If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, irritable, and depressed. Eating regularly and choosing foods that release energy slowly will help to keep your sugar levels steady.
Eating breakfast gets the day off to a good start.
Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day.
Avoid foods that make your blood sugar rise and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
If you don’t drink enough fluid, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which puts no one in a good mood).
A quick tip: It’s recommended that you drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid a day.
5 a Day
Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins, and fiber we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different colored fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients.
Try to have a side salad for lunch or dinner
Have fruit as a mid-day snack
Make a smoothie for breakfast
Looking after your Gut
Sometimes your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion, you need to have plenty of fiber, fluid and exercise regularly.
Healthy gut foods include fruits, vegetables and whole grains, beans, yogurt, and other probiotics.
Getting Enough Protein
Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.
Protein Foods: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), soy products, nuts, and seeds
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it will give you a quick burst of energy, but then may make you feel anxious and depressed, disturbing your sleep. You might feel noticeably better quite quickly if you drink less caffeine or avoid it altogether.
Eating the Right Fats
Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.
Healthy fats are found in oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.
Try to avoid anything which lists ‘trans fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the list of ingredients (such as some shop-bought cakes and biscuits). They can be tempting when you’re feeling low, but this kind of fat isn’t good for your mood or your physical health in the long run.
Don’t let these suggestions overwhelm you. Pick 1-2 tips to start with and build from there to start improving your mood and healthy lifestyle. The foods you eat are so much more than for keeping hunger at bay. They provide feelings of comfort. They give you energy. And they power your always-working mind. The food you eat fuels your mind, body and soul.
Check out our previous edition of Food for Thought!
Choosing what to drink used to be a pretty easy task, but now with a growing number of electrolyte beverages available, making the right choice can be just as agonizing as the dehydration itself. Learn more about how sports drinks affect our bodies with our previous edition of Food for Thought!
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