Blog post: How food can affect your mood

There's no doubt that in the present-day society, life can get pretty overwhelming. What with pressures at school, relationships with friends, and life at home, it's easy to overlook what you eat. But did you know that the food you consume has a considerable impact on both your emotional well-being and cognitive function (mental processes I.e decision-making, memory, problem-solving)? In this blog, we will look 3 simple things you can do to understand how the food you choose could affect your mood, well-being and energy.

Always go with your gut!

The age old saying of ‘go with your gut’ is basically supported by science! Ever experienced butterflies in your tummy when you get worried or anxious? Well, it’s all thanks to the ‘gut-brain axis’ which is a complex communication network through which the gut and brain are closely connected. What you eat influences the balance of good and bad bacteria in your gut which can impact the signals sent to your brain. Consuming a diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole foods and probiotics (yoghurt) supports a healthier gut environment, leading to better mood and emotional well-being.

Feed your brain function

Your brain is an important and powerful organ that needs essential nutrients to function at its best. Fish, nuts, and seeds, support brain health as they are high in nutrients like omega-3 and fatty acids. They have also been linked to reduced risks of depression and anxiety. B-vitamins, present in whole grains and leafy greens are crucial for cognitive function and mental clarity. Ensuring your diet contains a variety of nutrient-dense foods can enhance your brain’s performance and mental resilience.

Avoid the yo-yo effect

What goes up must come down! When you’re tucking into your favourite chocolate bar or bag of sweeties getting momentary satisfaction, what’s actually happening is that your blood sugar level is being thrown off balance. These rise and falls in blood sugar levels or ‘blood sugar spikes’ and ‘crashes’ can lead to mood swings and irritability. Balancing blood sugar levels through a well-rounded diet can help stabilize mood swings and promote emotional stability. Avoiding excessive sugary snacks and processed foods can be particularly helpful. Instead, opt for meals that include a mix of complex carbohydrates (beans, sweet potatoes, and oats) lean proteins, and healthy fats for sustained energy and balanced emotions.

While it’s unlikely that you will permanently trade in ice- cream and chocolate for celery and kidney beans, it all starts with a little change. By making small, manageable changes that work for you, you’ll have a better chance of sustaining those changes for the long term. If you’re on a budget or uninspired of what to make for a snack or meal, BBC-Good food has a whole library of healthy and budget friendly recipes to follow. Alternatively, second handbook shops can be another great place to look for affordable recipe books whilst shopping sustainably!

Get creative and share with your friends and family to see what changes you can make, if your struggling with your mental health remember; you are never alone.

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