Have we all not experienced those days where after a long tiring day at work, we just want to sit in front of the TV, get in our comfy pyjamas and turn to our comfort food. At least I have been there many times and it sure was one of the reasons for me putting on those extraaaaaa kilos ;).
But what I didn’t realise till recent was that it’s not just midnight snacking that gives us comfort but all the foods that we consume during the day have an impact on our overall mental health and moods throughout the day.
Stress eating is a common phenomena known to us (especially to us women), but it is not a myth because there is a scientific connection found between emotions and food that we consume. According to Harvard health publication, our brain functions the best when we provide it the best quality of foods.
Just like how we provide premium fuel to our car, our body also deserves the best.
The Mood and Food Connection
Food is the fuel that keeps our body going, but it plays a crucial role in our mental well-being too. Our brain requires brain-boosting foods and the right food i.e nutrient dense affects our moods, energy levels and overall performance during the days. Our brains produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps calm and soothe us, giving us a more relaxed, cheerful mood. Basically, the nutrients found in healthy foods appear to work together to cause the brain to produce the “feel-good hormone” serotonin, which is associated with improved mood and feelings of relaxation.
Can changing your diet improve your mental health?
Research shows that people in a negative frame of mind are more likely to choose sugary, fatty or salty – indulgence or comfort – foods rather than nutritious ones. Have you noticed that when you feel stressed, the types and amount of food you eat is very different than when you are in a relaxed state of mind?
Making healthier choices in your diet will not only help control your waistline, but it can also help lift your mood, and provide a long-lasting boost in energy and focus.
Enjoying a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrain cereals, legumes, low-fat dairy, lean meat and oily fish, for instance, is associated with reductions in mood swings, depression and anxiety. Other studies have shown that diets high in fruits, vegetables, protein and good fats may help prevent—and even cure—depression. Conversely, diets high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and processed foods are associated with risk of depression.
Food for Your Mood
Sugary foods may seem to provide comfort when you are feeling low but act as stimulants that make your mood even worse. Here are few tips to help you lift your mood and feel better -
When under the weather avoid sugar-rich foods, aerated drinks, alcohol. Reach for a cup of green tea, or any herbal flavour instead. Green tea contains theanine, an amino acid that helps combat the effects of stress and promotes relaxation. Jasmine tea has a delightful aroma that works directly to elevate mood and increase relaxation.
Increase your fruit and vegetable intake, especially berries, which have a high level of antioxidants, which protect against cell damage.
Ensure you get sufficient protein from beans, lentils, and fish, which are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help relieve depressive symptoms.
Yoghurt can also help elevate your mood. The good bacteria known to be found in yoghurt is good for your digestive health and boosts your mood.
So next time you wonder what nutritious food can do for you, consider this, because it is not just about managing your weight or looking good. Your mental health and moods control a major part of life - so set it right!!1