Can what you eat affect your happiness?

We all know that we should have healthy and balanced diets, but are you aware that the foods you eat day to day are affecting your overall mood and mental health?

Some studies have compared ‘traditional’ diets, such as the Mediterranean and Japanese diets to a typical ‘Western’ diet. It has shown that the risk of depression is 25-35% lower in those who eat a more traditional diet.

The reasoning? Well, traditional diets tend to be high in vegetables, fruits, unprocessed grains, fish and seafood, and they contain just a modest amount of lean meats and dairy. These diets also avoid processed and refined foods and sugars, which are more commonly seen in ‘Western’ food patterns.

An increase in additives, food colourings and processed foods, as well as people not making time for a healthy balanced diet, has been linked to people experiencing poorer mental health.

 

So, how can you change your diet to benefit your mood?

Firstly, you should be aware of how eating certain foods makes you feel, both in the moment and the hours and days following.

Eat often enough

You need to eat regularly to keep your sugar level steady. If your blood sugar levels drop, it could cause you to feel tired, irritable and depressed.

Eating breakfast will start your day in the right way, but three square meals might not be the right fit for everybody. Instead, try eating smaller portions, spaced more regularly throughout the day.

Stay hydrated

Not drinking enough water could mean you find it hard to concentrate or think clearly.

You need at least two pints of water daily to stay hydrated.

Eat the right fats

Fatty oils (such as omega -3 and -6) help to keep your brain working well. Good fats include oily fish, poultry, nuts, olive and sunflower oils, seeds, avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

Look after your gut

You might not know, but your mind is closely connected to your gut. This is because it uses many of the same chemicals as your brain and communicates with it. Listen to your gut, because it will tell you if it isn’t happy with the foods your putting in your body.

Get professional support

A health professional can help you to improve and better understand your health.

  • Dieticians can help you work on specific problems and can help to regulate your diet
  • Nutritional Therapists can help improve your overall health, make dietary recommendations and can work with you to alleviate and prevent illness and disease

If you would like to have any questions answered relating to your diet and mental health, then Cignpost members can talk to a Nurse Case Manager, who can offer a kind and knowledgeable ear. They can also give you access to relevant information.

 

Text References

Fleming, E – Guardian. (2019). Nutritional psychiatry: can you eat yourself happier? Accessible: https://www.theguardian.com/food/2019/mar/18/can-you-eat-yourself-happier-nutritional-psychiatry-mental-health. Last Accessed: 18 March 2019.

Healthline, (2019). Mood Food: Can What You Eat Affect Your Happiness? Accessible: https://www.healthline.com/health/mood-food-can-what-you-eat-affect-your-happiness. Last Accessed: 18 March 2019.

Mind. (2019). How can food affect mood? Accessible: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/food-and-mood/#.XI-g0Yj7TIU. Last Accessed: 20 March 2019.

Selhub, E – Harvard Health Publishing. (2018). Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food. Accessible: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-psychiatry-your-brain-on-food-201511168626. Last Accessed: 19 March 2019.