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Food Wise
A Christian based charity delivering food provision, training and education to local communities
By Josceline Walden on 13/02/19 | Category - Food

How Have You Been Feeling Lately? 

Fatigued or Energised?
Sliggish or Alert?
Low or Sad?
Anxious or Relaxed?
Rational or Irrational in decision making?
Irritable or Easy going?
Is your mind "foggy" or sharp during the day?
 

Now think about the food you are (or aren’t) putting onto your plate? 

How regular are your meals/snacks? What's the quality of the food like; Ready meals, fast food or home cooked, Processed or fresh. 
 

Diet and mood go hand in hand.

Nutrition plays a big part in not just our bodily health, but also all aspects of our wellbeing.

 

Furthermore, mood and emotions can impact our eating; increasing or decreasing appetite, cravings; stress and anxiety has even been found to hinder proper digestion and disrupt the absorption of nutrients in the gut. 

 


How Does Diet Impact Our Mood?

 

The brain is the control centre for your whole body.
It's aim; to keep your body in a "balance” known as "homeostasis”, to protect you, to keep you alive.

What we know is that when diet is restrictive, or lacking nutritional quality, this impacts our mood because the brain is malnourished; That is, it is starved of what it needs in order to drive your body properly.

Just like if you were to fill your car with the wrong fuel, a brain fuelled by diet deficient in vital vitamins and minerals it needs is not going to do its job as efficiently, and can be "dangerous” to drive.
A car would give signals that it’s struggling, and our bodies do the same thing, we need to listen out and  know the signs. 

Go back and re-read the questions at the start of the blog and have a think about how the food you eat impacts your mood: What are you eating? When do you eat? How much? How you’re eating it? 
 Is your body giving you any "signs” that it needs to be fuelled in a better way? 
 

 

 How Does Mood Impact Food Choices?

It’s no surprise that it's harder to make healthy decisions when we feel low, anxious or stressed.

Having experienced depression, anxiety and disordered eating myself, I know first hand know how manipulative our mood can be; constant highs and lows of energy and appetite, mind-fog impacting rational decision-making, motivation ebbing and flowing. 

It can be a mission just to get out of bed, it becomes just another mountain to climb, worrying about what to eat (and maybe feed many more mouths). Not even Jamie Oliver’s "meals in minutes” can combat.

 

Research has shown mood can manipulate appetite and eating habits in many ways; increasing or decreasing hunger, speeding up eating speed, triggering cravings for more ‘palatable’ foods (think high fat and high carbohydrate; chocolate, sweets).

 

Cravings will usually centre around foods high in fats and carbohydrates, this is because they release a "happy hormone” known as serotonin in the brain. This triggers pleasure signals that make us feel comforted.  

Dopamine is another neurotransmitter(brain hormone) released when we eat, it helps us learn:
"that was tasty & comforting”,  
"That was convenient and quick"
"When I'm low I don't eat" 

The problem: Over time a habitual response, a learnt pattern of eating is created triggered by our mood The next time the same situation arises we turn to this behaviour to help us. 

In some instances it can become a Catch 22 cycle: poor diet, low mood, lack of energy, nutrient deficient choices. 

 


How Can You Boost Mood Through Food?

We need to choose to break the cycle, and as an act of self-care, learn to nourish our bodies.

Have faith the 8 mood-boosting steps, are super simple, and there is even a  "Food & Mood Shopping List” to help you on your way to eating yourself happy:

1)  Did You Eat A Good Breakfast?  

Set yourself up for steady supply of energy instead of a sharp sugar spike which can cause mood swings an interfere with concentration. 
Protein helps with (fullness) and wholegrain carbohydrates, or oats, are a great source of slow release energy. 

Why not try 2 slices of wholegrain toast with eggs and spinach. 
Or 30g Porridge Oats made with milk, ½ banana and some frozen berries. 

2)  Have You Had Enough Water Today?

Research has found even being slightly dehydrated impacts upon mood negatively. Your brain is 78% fluid, but it doesn’t want constant supply of fizzy drinks or caffeine, but plenty of water; 8 glasses minimum a day.

Don’t like the flavour? Spice it up with slices of lemon, lime or cucumber.

3)  Pack Your Snacks!

Your brain uses up 20% of the sugar from food as daily energy, and during sleep. Long breaks between meals, or having no snacks, can create large fluctuations in blood-glucose levels; low blood sugar can elevate feelings of anxiety, low mood and disrupts concentration

Carry snacks in your bag or car; apples, raisins, banana, carrot sticks and hummus, even a couple of boiled eggs. 

4)   Go For Unsaturated Fats:

Much of your cellular and hormonal functioning is reliant on adequate fat supply. Unsaturated fats rom nuts, seeds, egg yolks, and oily fish are healthy sources.
Selenium is an important mineral found in many of these foods that helps with cognition (brain power), immune system function, and fertility. If deficient, found related to negative mood states.  


5)   Limit Alcohol & Caffeine:

It is recommended to limit both caffeine and alcohol if suffering from clinically diagnosed mood disorder. Both act in opposing ways; Caffeine is a stimulant and its short-lived highs can often create manic episodes, whilst alcohol is a depressant and can worsen low mood.

Alcohol
has also been found to prevent absorption of certain nutrients in the body, such as Vitamin B, leading to deficiencies that enhance mood instability.

Why not experiment with different
herbal teas, or alcohol free versions of drinks at social occasions.

6)   Go For Greens and Grains:

Diets deficient in wholegrain, veggies and fruits often lead to feelings of tiredness, irritability and feelings of depression. Fantastic sources of zinc, folate, and B Vitamins and so many tasty ways to cook them up or hide them in your meals, just check out our recipes page to find some veg-spiration!

7)   Eat the rainbow:

You can largely get all the vitamins your body needs from eating a varied diet (A,D, E K, &  the 8 B Vitamins and Vitamin C).
The more colourful your plate is, regardless if it is from fresh or frozen, the more diversity of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) you are giving your body to function optimally.

Those who are vegetarian or vegan need to source B-12 from fortified cereals, milk and yoghurt products as it is this B Vitamin is only found in meat products. 
 


8)  Be Freezer Ready:

When the going gets tough, the tough need to have aback up plan that provides the same quick fix as fast food and ready meals. Instead of having frozen pizzas, chips at the ready why not freeze one portion of a meal each night during the week, so you have a freezer filled with nutritious, home cooked alternatives giving you no excuse to not eat a balanced meal.

              * * * 

    R E M E M B E R


It is ok to eat your favourite fast foods, have a slice of cake and a bar of chocolate every now and again. A healthy diet is not a restricted diet. Long term look at the quality and quantity of the foods you are feeding your body and brain. 

 

 


 References

Mind Charity, Food & Mood [accessed 12th Feb 2019]

British Association of Dieticians, Food & Mood [accessed 10the Feb 2019]

Macht, M. (2008). How emotions affect eating: A five-way model. Appetite, 50(1), 1-11. doi;10.1016/j.appet.2007.07/002


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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