I would like to approach a food-related topic: the connection between what we eat and our mood – which sounds like a perfect holistic wellness topic.
Does it sound familiar to you?
I sometimes have cravings for fat and processed food while at other times I deeply need fresh and raw food. As a result, my mood gets affected and it becomes more obvious if I maintain the same diet for a few days:
- Eating healthy lifts up my mood, making me want to take care of myself even more.
- Eating processed food usually brings my mood down, making me feel tired, lazy, and moody.
Why is that so?
The good mood food
There is more and more information about the good mood food (I must say, I just love the sequence of words!). The effects of the diet on our mental health has been proven like a study that shows a connection between a rich refined diet and depression.
There is also this amazing book about our guts that I promised myself to finish one day Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ by Guilia Enders.
Obviously, we all want to feel well, energized, and mentally stable. In order to do so and to remain in a good mood, we should watch out for our food.
I compiled a few pieces of advice based on my own experience. There is plenty of literature on the Internet about it. If you know me by now, I prefer introducing you to the concepts rather than going into too many details.
As with everything in life, you should try it out for yourself and make your own experience.
1. Maintain a steady blood sugar level
The level of sugar in your bloodstream can either give you a boost when high, or makes you feel tired when low.
How to ensure a good balance? You should eat at a regular time, and prefer wholegrain food that releases energy slowly (we call it “slow-sugars” in French). These are our beloved pasta, rice, oats, cereals, and nuts for example.
Some specific food like banana, dark chocolate or berries have also shown to support good mental health thanks to their vitamins, fiber or their chemical composition.
2. Fermented food for your guts
It has been proven that our gut microbiota, our second brain, has an impact on our mood. Indeed, our guts send messages to our brain via neurotransmitters, so if you’re in the bad mood without apparent reasons, think of your guts!
It’s important to feed your microbiota with good bacteria that will help maintain health and the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter thought to be responsible for our mood, anxiety, and stress level.
To make it simple: the more serotonin your guts produce, the better your mood!
Probiotics, the good gut bacteria, can be found in fermented food such as yoghurt, Kombucha or tofu.
3. Drink plenty of water
I grew up in a family where there was only water on the table for lunch and diner (and wine of course for my parents, because after all, we’re French).
Looking back, I feel lucky that I grew up with such a good habit. This is only when I started to eat at friends’ place and later on, living with other people that I realized this simple habit wasn’t universal.
Water keeps your brain but also your skin hydrated, so that’s two birds hit with one stone. You can use as many skincare products as you want, hydration starts with plenty of water intake!
4. Reduce your caffeine intake
Old habits die hard, and what I got from my parents with the water on the table, is another story when it comes to coffee. They can drink two coffees each in the morning, and my father can have two coffees after a long family lunch.
I try to incorporate more herbal beverages into my daily habits. I start to really enjoy it, especially the ones that have vanilla or cocoa flavour.
Coffee, when taken in high doses, could increase tension and nervousness, and that’s not what we want.
If you’re addicted to the coffee taste like me, try decaff. Don’t hesitate to invest a bit; good decaff may be a bit pricy, but that’s for the good cause.
How to make to ease up your good mood food consumption
Prepare your food in advance
I’m not a big fan of meal prep as I believe that food is best when fresh (at least in terms of nutrients), but with the life rhythm too many of us know, preparing your meals in advance may come handy for many reasons.
Besides saving up time in the long run, having your meal ready to eat will prevent you from being tempted with unhealthy food. Processed and ready-to-eat food is often rich in fat and in salt while poor in fibers, vitamins, and minerals.
Your mood likes healthy food, so make sure to provide your mood with what it needs; what YOU need.
Get your greens from a juice
No time to cook? No problem!
Although you won’t get all the initial nutrients as some will be damaged in the process, green smoothies are good alternatives to help you get your daily fibers and minerals intakes.
Make sure to have more leafy greens, like spinach or kale, than fruits in your drink to avoid a rush of sugar and ending up tired. I personally like to add a banana or an avocado for a smooth and sweet touch.
Keep a water bottle with you – everywhere you go
If you’re like me, you don’t feel thirsty and you can’t remember last time you had a glass of water, a good hack is to always carry a water bottle with you.
No more excuse: by simply seeing it, you will think of it!
To keep your mood happy, keep it simple
As with most of my findings and recommendations on this blog, the solution is often simple.
If you pay attention to your body and your own needs, you should naturally know what is good for you, in the long run.
Feeling a bit down, you may get an urge for comfort food, and that’s okay. Just try to slowly turn to healthy comfort food like dark chocolate and nuts. These are yummy!
The more you practice, the natural it will become. Just follow your instinct and take one step at a time.