How the Food You Eat Might Improve Your Mood
Much research has been conducted to prove a relationship between food and mood. Read on to learn more about their connection.
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Food and Mood
Your mood has varying effects on your quality of life and can impact you in ways that you may not have considered before. Moods such as anxiety and sadness could serve as significant hindrances to the ability of an individual to function properly. Many things can affect an individual’s mood, from exercise to stress to daily happenings, but there is one other thing that has a major effect on mood: food.
The relationship between mood and food has been scientifically proven, and the food you eat significantly impacts how you feel and your ability to function. Many people focus solely on the energy giving advantage of food, unaware that the food we eat does more than just replenish our depleted energy storage. Eating right is important in maintaining good mental health, and learning how to incorporate healthy eating habits into our everyday lives can help improve our overall mood and mental well-being in a multitude of ways.1
How Does Food Affect Mood?
Fundamentally, the food you eat provides your body and mind with the nutrients it needs to function properly. When your body doesn’t receive these nutrients, it begins to work sub-optimally. A typical example of this is when people faint due to a lack of blood sugar, meaning the body didn’t have enough nutrients or energy it needed to continue functioning.2
Beyond this, however, it has also been shown that diet and nutrition play a vital role in the development and maintenance of mood and mental health, and while the exact details of this relationship are still vague, there is conclusive evidence that some types of food contribute positively to mental health while some other types “damage” it. The link between mood and food is so important that some studies in recent years have linked the occurrence, management, and prevention of psychological disorders like depression and anxiety to the quality of diet in affected individuals.
Food and Mood Chart
If you’re looking to test for yourself just how much of an effect the food you eat has on your mood and, by extension, mental health, then the food and mood chart is the perfect tool for you to use to explore this food and mood connection.
Just like the name implies, a mood and food chart (also called a food diary) is a tool to chart how food can affect mood. The way to use a food and mood chart is to write everything you eat into the chart, and then under the mood section, write how you felt after eating that particular food item.
Food and Mood Chart Uses and Benefits
A typical food and mood chart will include columns for the day or time you ate, what you ate, how you felt before eating, and how you felt after eating the food. This will help track if the time of day may have something to do with your mood, or, more likely, if the food itself and what you’re eating have an impact on your overall mood throughout the day.
Food and Mood Connection
We consume many things in order to nourish our bodies, and each food item has a particular effect on our mood, either positively or negatively. There has been a lot of research done on “sugar rushes,” where individuals who are tired or depressed switch to snacking on food that’s high in sugar content in order to “perk up.” You should, however, know that while this approach generally works, food high in sugars and calories eventually elicits some negative effects of their own on your mood, so while it may seem beneficial in the short term, it’s much more damaging long-term.4
Several mood-boosting foods can contribute to improving your mood and mental health. Some of these foods will be detailed below.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have long been linked to contributing positively to whole body wellness, and they have certainly proven to be immensely useful in this regard. For example, fruits and vegetables like bananas and berries have been known to effectively take care of depression symptoms and promote dopamine (the “feel-good” hormone) synthesis.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods like fish are very important in mood regulation because they contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids. An interesting thing to note about omega-3 fatty acids is that they also help with brain growth and development. However, the body cannot synthesize these omega-3 fatty acids on its own, making it imperative that you ensure they are present in your diet.
Chocolate also ranks among the types of foods that make you feel better when you eat them, and this is due to a number of factors. For one, eating chocolate stimulates the release of chemicals like caffeine and N-acylethanolamine, both of which have mood-boosting effects. Chocolate also contains several flavonoids that work to improve brain functioning and promote blood flow to the brain, and all of these effects contribute significantly towards improved mood and mental health.
In addition to the examples of food for energy and mood listed above, you should also ensure to include food containing nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin B6 & B12, iron, folate, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and zinc. You’ll be able to find these nutrients in food to boost energy and mood, like whole grains, fruit, vegetables, fish, eggs, and so on.5
Some Bad Eating Habits That Alter Your Mood
You should also know that several eating habits could negatively affect your mood, so these habits need to be adjusted as soon as possible. Some of these poor food and mood mental health habits include:
- Skipping meals
- Cutting out entire food groups
- Eating too many refined carbohydrates
Tips for a Healthy Food/Mood Relationship
Just as there are habits that negatively impact nutrition and mental health, there are also several that could help boost your mental health. Here are some tips on ensuring a good relationship between food and mood:
- Eating regularly
- Staying hydrated
- Getting enough protein
- Managing caffeine intake
- Eating the right fats
Improve Your Mood Today
If you’re looking to adjust your eating habits in order to improve your mood and food relationship, the first thing to do is get a healthy diet plan for yourself. Once you’ve done this, ensure to stick to the diet plan as much as you can. Then you should also work on cutting back or avoiding activities that could cause you to deviate from your health plan and eat food that can damage your mood.
Note, however, that eating healthy is not in any way a substitute for proper emotional care; rather, these two approaches should be integrated and used together to ensure the improvement and maintenance of optimum mood quality.
Additional Support at Alta Centers
If you or your loved one could benefit from additional support in achieving and maintaining wellness, we are here to help. Reach out to Alta Centers today to begin healing.