We all have good days and bad days, but is there a connection between feeling fine and the foods we have eaten?
Below is an info graphic produced by dieticians at the Rooted project which gives us 6 easy ways to eat to improve your mood.
The brain needs a regular supply of energy so eating regular meals is going to keep those blood sugars stable. I'm sure we've all experienced the mood change that can occur when we are hungry! Eating regular meals throughout the day is a good start and eating breakfast is known to help concentration both at work and school!
Secondly eat a balanced diet - put simply dividing your plate at lunch and dinner as above. Make sure you eat a good variety of fruits and veg too as they contain the vitamins and minerals key for energy, mood and brain function. You should be able to get all you need from a balanced diet bar vitamin D but there are certain circumstances where a supplements may be beneficial - eg - folic acid for women planning pregnancy, iron supplements for those with anemia. We also know that as we age our ability to absorb crucial nutrients like B12 ( essential for our nervous system) declines so its important to get these levels checked by your GP if you have concerns. There is also good evidence that selenium deficiency may increase the incidence of feeling depressed, selenium is found in brazil nuts, meats, fish seeds and wholemeal breads. So a balanced diet with plenty of veg and fruits, wholegrain cereals, some protein foods including oily fish, will give us a good supply of nutrients for both good health and mood
Thirdly - The brain burns carbs as its chosen fuel so by choosing quality carbs like wholegrains that supply a steady supply of energy and limiting your intake of free sugars you'll have a good steady supply of energy for the brain. This will help avoid that fuzzy brain feeling when we don't have enough glucose in the blood. The brain also uses about 20% of our total energy needs, so its really important to keep well fueled.
Healthy fats we know key to cognitive function, so aim for at least 2 oily fish per week and include other good fats like avocados, nuts and olive oils.
If you get dehydrated is can affect your mood and your ability to concentrate, so aim for at least 6-8 glasses of water per day and more if its warmer weather. A word on caffeine - this is found not just in coffee but cola, tea and energy drinks. It acts as a stimulant and can improve feelings of fatigue, but enjoy in moderation as too much can cause adverse effects such as insomnia, irritability and headaches. Be aware the amount of caffeine in coffee outlets can vary enormously too.
Similarly with alcohol, it can cause dehydration and exacerbate low mood, so be aware if its affect on you.
There is also one key tool I use if I'm feeling a bit stressed out and anxious - simply notice what you are feeling, acknowledge it and breathe - 4 deep breaths - NAB - your thought - have a go it really works!
As a final message food has been a great source of enjoyment and enjoying good food with friends and family is one of the joys of life, so enjoy it!