Good mood food

Find yourself waking up feeling snappy or gloomy? Or craving a sugar hit to clear the afternoon brain fog?

Check the fuel you’re putting into your body.

Research is increasingly making a link between what we eat and our mood and mental health.

Studies show when we are feeling anxious, stressed, or low we are more likely to reach for comfort food that is high in carbohydrates, sugar, or salt. And that ultimately makes us feel worse.

Our brains operate at their optimal level when our diet is balanced and reflects the wonderful variety of food choices available to us naturally.

Plus, it sets us on an upward spiral. We get a better night’s sleep; have more energy; it improves our concentration; and reduces cravings for foods that are high in sugar, salt, or fat.

So if you want to feel better everyday, here are five ways to give your mood a boost.

Eat the rainbow of fruit and vegetables

Only eat fruit or vegetables on the odd occasion? Or stick with the same ones? Eating a range of fruit and vegetables provides us with fibre, which supports a healthy gut. Their vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants are good for our brain health too. So aim to eat two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables a day and see how many different colours you can put on your plate.

Pump up the fibre

Wholegrains – such as oats, corn, quinoa, brown rice – are another source of fibre that is good for our gut. Our brains also benefit from healthy fats and slow-release carbohydrates. So ditch the white bread and cereals and opt for wholegrain instead. Beans, chickpeas, lentils, and nuts will pump up the fibre in your diet too.

Keep it lean

Put lean meats, eggs, and oily fish (salmon, sardines, tuna) on the menu. The protein they contain provides the building blocks of many brain chemicals that impact our mood. Adding nuts, seeds, and legumes to our diet also helps us stay sunny side up.

Get cultured

Fermented foods such unsweetened yoghurt and sauerkraut are another way to boost the beneficial bacteria in our gut.

Drink up

We all know it’s important to stay hydrated. It helps prevent tiredness, headaches, and difficulty in concentration. But not every beverage is right for the job. Soft drinks and alcohol are high in sugar and coffee is dehydrating.

Drinking water (about two litres a day and more if you’re exercising) is the way to go. And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for a glass.

If your usual diet doesn’t include any of these suggestions begin by making a few changes and build in more over time.

  • Swap the chocolate bar for a piece of fruit and nibble on nuts rather than chomping on chips;
  • Eat three main meals a day rather than snacking round the clock;
  • Make a burger or a dessert a once a week treat not an everyday habit;
  • Increase your water intake.

Enjoy making a positive change and notice how your mood improves.

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