Manage your mood with food in 5 simple steps
Every May in the UK there is a mental health awareness week. The popularity of this week shows just how much of an interest there is in supporting our mental health. That’s because mental health is something can affect any of us at any time. Thankfully there are well-studied positive associations between how what you eat affects your mood. Which means that you can now manage your mood with food, once you know how.
In my clinical experience I see how simple changes to your way of eating has a positive knock on effect on mental health. The same goes for personal experience. I know for sure that on those (rare) days I have mainly processed carbs and coffee I feel stressed and anxious. I also know that when I eat plenty of fresh vegetables, protein and water my mood and mental health is much improved. If you are interested in finding out more about Nutritional Therapy and how we can work together then please head to my website.
5 ways to manage your mood with food
In this article I share five ways to positively manage your mood through food.
Fresh is best
Your diet can affect your brain. Certain foods can help you to feel better (and some don’t).
Time and again a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the symptoms of depression. This way of eating encompasses vegetables, seafood, fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, beans, cereal and grains. Basically, fresh whole foods and nothing that has been processed.
Processed foods do not make you feel good in the long term. Although cakes, biscuits, crisps and such like can feel like they make you feel better, in reality they do not help.
Gut brain connection
One thing you can do to help you feel better is nourish your brain. 95% of serotonin (our happy hormone) is made in the gut. So, a “happy” gut is one that produces plenty of serotonin to pass on to your brain. An imbalanced gut affects how you feel mentally. ⠀⠀⠀
By improving your gut health and digestion you improve your mental health. Although you can’t directly get serotonin from food, you get tryptophan from some foods, which is then converted to serotonin. Tryptophan-rich foods include eggs, chicken, turkey, milk, and cheese.
Other way to improve your gut and mental health is through your gut bacteria. Probiotic bacteria provide many health benefits, including for the brain. Beneficial bacteria naturally reside in the gut but are also found in supplements and fermented foods, like yoghurt and kefir.
Healthy fats help to manage your mood
Healthy fats are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These types of dietary fat have been shown to improve memory and reduce depression, because they are structural components of brain cell membranes and influence the functioning of the brain cells. By increasing the amount of healthy fats you eat you are doing your mood and mental health a favour.
Oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are packed full of beneficial polyunsaturated fats.
Foods that are rich in monounsaturated fats include olive oil, avocados, nuts such as almonds and walnuts, and seeds.
Another way to manage your mood with food is through eating regular meals and snacks. When you leave long gaps of time between eating your blood sugar levels can significantly drop. This leaves you feeling tired and lethargic and unable to concentrate.
If you find it challenging to eat regularly because you are super busy then take a look at this post. 3 ways to eat healthier when you are super busy.
Often overlooked, especially in Winter, drinking water regularly throughout the day is one great way to support your mental health and mood. Even mild dehydration affects your mood and ability to concentrate.
One of the best ways to make sure you drink enough water is by using a 1 litre water bottle. Aim to drink one bottle of water throughout the morning. Then drink another bottle of water throughout the afternoon.
A great way to make water more interesting is by adding fresh mint, slices of lemon, or berries.
Other ways to manage your mood
Ramping up your nutrition is a great way to manage your mood with food. By focusing on drinking water and eating regular meals based around fresh ingredients you are already making great steps towards better mental health. Then, add in some serotonin-rich foods and healthy unsaturated fats.
Nature is the theme of this years Mental Health Awareness week. If you can grow a few herbs or veggies in your own garden or a local allotment plot, then you’ll be getting the benefits of nature and good food to boost your mood.
To receive individual guidance on the best food, drink and lifestyle for you please get in touch. Working on a 1:1 basis with a BANT and CNHC registered Nutritional Therapist is the best way to get to the root cause of what’s going for you. I evaluate your individual needs using evidence-based personalised nutrition.