How can food affect your mood?

How can food affect your mood?

As the darker, longer evenings draw in, it's easy to start experiencing symptoms of low mood, and a serious lack of energy.
But, did you know that what you eat can have such a positive – or negative – effect on how you feel? So, as we head into Autumn and Winter, we thought we'd share with you how eating well can leave you feeling happier, more nourished and indulged, and with bags of energy to stay well throughout the colder seasons.
Eat regularly 
Allowing your blood sugar to drop can leave you feeling tired, irritable and even depressed – sound familiar? Eating at regular intervals throughout the day, and choosing foods that release energy slowly, will help to keep your sugar levels steady.

Slow-release energy foods include: pasta, rice, oats, wholegrain bread and cereals, nuts and seeds.

Quick tips:
  • Eating a healthy, balanced breakfast gets the day off to a great start.
  • Instead of eating a large lunch and dinner, try eating smaller portions spaced out more regularly throughout the day.
  • Try to avoid foods which can make your blood sugar levels spike and fall rapidly, such as sweets, biscuits, sugary drinks, and alcohol.
Stay hydrated
If you don’t drink enough fluid, you may find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly, and that can add to a general sense of low mood.
Quick tips:
  • It’s recommended you drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid a day.
  • Water is a cheap and healthy option – why not add a slice of lemon or diffuse with some berries to add extra taste?
  • Tea, coffee, juices and smoothies all count towards your intake (but be aware that these may also contain caffeine or sugar, which should be consumed in small amounts).
Getting your 5 a day
Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy.
Eating a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients.

Quick tips:
  • Fresh, frozen, tinned, dried and juiced (one glass) fruits and vegetables all count towards your 5 a day.
  • As a general rule, one portion is about a handful, small bowl or a small glass.
  • For an easy way to get your 5 a day (and then some!) why not order one of our organic fruit and veg boxes, packed full of delicious, fresh produce?
Listen to your gut!
Often, your gut will reflect how you're feeling emotionally. If you're stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up. For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly.

Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.

Quick tips:
  • It might take your gut time to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly to give yourself time to adjust.
  • If you’re feeling stressed and you think it is affecting your gut, try some relaxation techniques or breathing exercises.

Protein, protein, protein

If you're a regular at a gym, or a follower of health and fitness influencers on social media, you'll hear a lot of talk about protein. And they're not wrong! Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer. But it doesn't necessarily mean eating chicken day in, day out!
Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, and cheese, but is also found in large quantities in legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds – great if you're following a plant-based eating plan.

Quick tip:
  • Whatever your diet, why not do some research into other foods that contain protein, and find something new to try? We post plenty of tasty vegan and vegetarian recipes on our social channels, and Pinterest, Ambitious Kitchen and BBC Food are also great sources to try, amongst others, for foodie inspiration.

Eating the right fats
Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.

Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

Quick tip:

  • Try to avoid anything which lists ‘trans fats’ or ‘partially hydrogenated oils’ in the ingredients (such as some shop-bought cakes and biscuits). They can be tempting when you’re feeling low, and are a treat when eaten in moderation, but this kind of fat isn’t good for your mood or your physical health in the long run!

Hopefully all of these hints and tips will help you to feel better prepared for how to eat with your wellbeing in mind over the coming months. We'll be continuing to share plenty of nourishing and fun recipes to inspire you. And do tag us in your culinary creations, using the hashtag #GooderyGrub. We love seeing what you've been cooking up!

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