I've always been a lover of food. In fact the only foods I don't like are all varieties of cheese with the exception of mozzarella and certain types of fish!! Yes weird I know!!
Studying and setting up career in the health and fitness industry you would of thought I would have been all for dieting, but you would be wrong.
Throughout my time as a personal trainer I never advocated any particular diet, unless there were particular medical reasoning behind it. Instead I always opted to promote eating a well balanced diet, and supported my clients in doing just this.
Diets for me have always seemed so restrictive and let's face it most diet templates out there aren't sustainable or realistic in the long term. Fads come and go but eating a healthy balanced diet is all we really need.
Although diets haven't been on the top of my list for promoting, one point I have always appreciated is that the foods we consume on a daily basis can tell us a lot about the type of lifestyle we are living and more importantly how we actually feel.
Food believe it or not does have a say in both our mental and physical well-being. Eating well can effect and support the way our body and mind responds to things like stress and illness.
Our energy levels for example are dictated by the foods we consume and when we eat them. For example we would have all experienced a case of the afternoon munchies at some point.
You know one of those days when we just haven't stopped. Before you know it its 3:30pm and you wonder why your starving. So what do we do, we grab a hunger quick fix. Unfortunately this normally involves foods with a high sugar content. This is the same reason why I try not to go food shopping when I'm hungry. You can guarantee if I do it will be the sweet aisle I will be heading too.
When we eat foods high in sugar the initial energy rush will always be preceded by a sugar crash, leaving us feeling sluggish, tired and lets face it moody. It can also lead to headaches if we are not careful.
Food can certainly effect our mood. In fact much research has been done on this matter showing correlations between certain foods with conditions such as anxiety and depression. The question is therefore, what foods make us feel good and what foods should we avoid like the plaque?
Well lets start with the latter:
- Refined carbohydrates are experts in effecting mood and not in a happy way, if consumed on a daily basis and make up the majority of your diet. Items such as white bread, pasta, fizzy drinks may taste fantastic but they do little in the way of helping our mood.
This is not to say you should banish carbs altogether, just the moody ones!!!!
Things like whole grains, fruits and vegetables are fine, just keep an eye on the sugar content!! :-)
- Don't skip breakfast - Yup hands up I used to be a nightmare at skipping breakfast, which no surprising led to me getting the mid morning munchies. We all know what happens when we get the munchies!!!!
- Elizabeth Somer a well known nutritionist and author advises to avoid eating too much protein such as chicken and turkey as they tend to have tendency to block / suppress serotonin. Foods such as leafy greens on the other hand are great at mood boosting.
- Drinking plenty of water is vital to our well-being as we all know, but do you drink enough? Drinking plenty of water plays a significant role in keeping our stress hormone cortisol down. Most experts advise us to drink about 2 litres of water a day.
- Grab those Omega 3 fatty acids. Recent research has shown a link between Omega 3 polyunsaturated acids and protection against mild depression. There has been other pieces of research that question this notion, therefore more research is needed in this area to clarify. Regardless Omega 3 as we all know has a role in our well-being.
- Cut out pesky Gluten as it does have a tendency to bloat us and we all know what that bloating feeling can do for our mood. It isn't pretty.
- Cut down on caffeine or cut out completely - try and avoid that espresso to lift your mood. Yes it will provide you with that initial rush but that is short lived being quickly followed by an energy nose dive. Lets face it the latter isn't going to help us lift our mood.
You can see from the list above that simply swapping some of your food options can do wonders for our mood. So next time when your feeling a bit down (lets face it we all have these days) grab a serotonin promoting mood busting snack.
Here's to healthy eating, healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy you xxx