How Food Affects Our Mood?

18 hours ago 236 Reads 6 min read
Jasmine Kaur Dhillon Depression 01 Feb 2021
Counseling

Mood and emotions are linked to each other. When you are in a bad mood, you like to have negative feelings such as sadness, anger, or fear of something. But when you are in a good mood, you like to have positive feelings such as being happy or hopeful about something.
Food also affects our mood because there is a close relationship between diet and mood. It is very confusing to know what we should eat and what not to eat, especially when it seems that advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that food not only affects our physical health but also affects our way of feeling.
Improving your diet can help:

  1. Improves the mood
  2. Gives more energy
  3. Helps to think more clearly.

Habits to help boost your mood

FRUITS IN BAGS - ORANGES, APPLES, AVAGADOS, SPINACH, PINEAPPLE & BANANAS

We all want to feel constant energy and alert throughout the day. Much of that energy and vigilance comes from eating a nutrient-rich diet like vegetables, fruits, lean protein, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and healthy fats. 

The following are the additional health habits and strategies that you can practice to get the most from the foods you are eating.

You should not skip meals, especially breakfast.

  • Instead of some big meals, eat small meals and snacks throughout the day.
  • Eat lots of fluids, especially drinking water. Add limited sugar in drinks such as tea, coffee, and juice.
  • You should eat more whole grains and less refined sugars.
  • Do regular exercise.
  • Include protein in every meal.
  • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.

These tips and strategies can help you avoid a negative mood where low-quality food leads to a bad mood, in turn prompting you to eat low quality food(junk foods). 

Recommended read - Why mental health is as essential as physical health?

Mood-supporting nutrients and vitamins

Sugar is not the only ingredient in the food that affects how we feel. The following are the other nutrients and some common foods that can positively affect your mood.

1. Complex Carbohydrates

baking chapati on Tawa which is full of carbohydrates

Food Source: 100% whole grain bread and cereal, potatoes, beans, peas, and corn.

Impact on Mood:

  • Lessens high-sugar cravings
  • Produces a sense of calm
  • Decreases mood swings

2. Protein

protein rich diet containing lean meat, fish, eggs, beans and eggs cooked and placed on the dining table to eat and on the side of the tray there is a knife and spoons

Food Source: Lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, beans, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and nuts.

Impact on Mood:

  • Enhances alertness
  • Boosts motivation
  • Sharpens attention
  • Improves memory

3. Omega-3 fatty Acid

Omega 3 rich foods mixed in 2 small flass bowls

Food Source: Walnuts, flax seeds, certain fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring.

Impact on Mood:

  • Lessens high-sugar cravings
  • Produces a sense of calm

4. B Complex(Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, Folate)

Traditional Mexican veggies arranged with potatoes and tropical plant

Food Source: Fortified cereal and soy products, potatoes, clams, oysters, fish, chickpeas, lean, spinach, meat, broccoli, low-fat or fat-free dairy, 100 % whole grain foods.

Impact on Mood: 

  • Controls emotions
  • Improves sleep
  • Regulates mood
  • Improve memory and concentration

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D rich cooked dishes on Table

Food Source: Egg yolks and fortified foods such as certain dairy products, soymilk, orange, juice, and cereal.

Impact on Mood: 

  • Relieves mood disorders
  • Relieves affective disorders

How to manage your mood with food

The following are the tips to help you explore the connection between eating and feeling.

1. Eating regularly

You can feel tired, irritable, and depressed if your blood sugar drops. Choosing foods that release energy slowly and eating regularly will help to keep sugar levels stable. Pasta, oats, rice, nuts, wholegrain bread and cereals,  and seeds are slow-release energy foods. And you should avoid foods that increase your blood sugar and fall rapidly, such as biscuits, sweets,  sugary drinks, and alcohol.

2. Staying hydrated

You find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly if you don't drink enough fluids. You can also start feeling constipated which does not put anyone in a good mood. It is recommended to drink between 9-11 glasses of water a day. Water is a healthy option for this. You can also take coffee, juice, tea, etc. but you should keep in mind that it also contains sugar or caffeine.

3. Looking after your gut

Sometimes your gut can indicate how you are feeling emotionally. You may slow down your stomach or increase your speed if you are stressed or anxious. You should take fluids, fibre,  and exercise regularly for healthy digestion. Healthy gut foods include vegetables, fruits,  and whole grains, beans, pulses, live yogurt, etc.

4. Getting enough protein

Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals needed to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps to feel full for longer. Lean meats, eggs, fish,  cheese, legumes (peas, beans, and lentils), soy products, nuts, and seeds contain protein.

5. Eating the right fats

Fatty acids such as omega-3 and -6 for the brain to keep it working well. So you should not avoid eating all fats but you should eat the right ones. The healthy fat found in olive and sunflower oils, cheese, milk, yogurt, fish, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), nuts (especially walnuts and almonds).

6. Managing caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that no doubt gives a quick burst of energy but it can leave feeling anxious and depressed. It can also disturb your sleep especially before going to bed. Caffeine is contained in coffee,   cola, tea, chocolate,  and other manufactured energy drinks. 
7. Getting your 5 a day

Vegetables and fruits contain a lot of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which we need to keep our physical and mental health well. Consuming a variety of vegetables and colorful fruits and every day means that you will get a good range of nutrients.

Conclusion

Finally, I can say that you can also try to make small healthy food swaps like trading white rice, pasta, and bread for whole-grain versions. It helps in increasing the good fiber in your body, which is helpful in digestion.

I know that starting or maintaining a well-balanced diet is very difficult. But I encourage you to think of ways to adjust your diet, allowing you to moderate negative foods and enhance others that promote physical and mental well-being that fit your lifestyle.

It can take some extra effort to include good-for-your-mood foods in your diet. So you don't have to make every healthy change immediately but you should improve your eating habits one by one.

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    Jasmine Kaur Dhillon

    Nutritionist

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    Available- Online

    Language: English, Hindi, Punjabi

    Area Of Expertise: Physical Health, Nutrition, Eating Disorders, Breast Feeding, Mental Health

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