How Food affects Mood and Behaviour

How food affects mood and behaviour

With life being as busy as ever and stress levels running high, it’s only natural that we would want to reach for our favourite bag of chips or tub of ice cream. What we may not realise however is that these comfort foods may be doing more harm than good – as is the case with most things that act as ‘quick fixes’ which make us feel better in the moment, but have no longevity.

In fact, studies world wide have shown that foods high in processed sugars and saturated fats are not only bad for our physical health and well-being, but also play a huge part in contributing to poor mental health. Of course the irony is not lost on us; if we’re stressed, then surely we can’t be expected to deny our bodies the foods they crave! And let me tell you with absolute certainty, that substituting with carrot sticks, sliced fruits or a handful of nuts will NOT do the trick!

So, let me begin by telling you that the advice given in this post is not necessarily about what to do during hard times, but more so to do with your general lifestyle choices. If you’re dealing with a crisis, then by all means, treat yourself.  But that is all it should be; a treat, and not a daily fix. But when your occasional treat becomes the norm, that is when the negative effects take over, and you eventually find yourself feeling sluggish, depressed and irritable.

In case you’re wondering, the scientific term for this is called ‘nutritional psychiatry’, which looks at the relationship between diet, mood and behaviour and is a relatively new concept. In fact, most studies done on food and health were all about physical health. Whereas the effects of food on our mental health did not really come into play until quite recently.

So, how does it work? Simply put, a healthy diet translates into a healthy gut, which then produces neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which in turn regulates our moods and emotions.

Furthermore, if you find yourself feeling blue and are not sure why, chances are your diet isn’t doing you any favours.  If you’re open to considering this and making some changes, here are a few things you should be stocking up on the next time you visit the supermarket:

  1. Fatty Fish, such as salmon
  2. Dark Chocolate, at least 70%
  3. Fermented Foods, such as yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut
  4. Bananas
  5. Oats
  6. Berries
  7. Nuts and seeds
  8. Beans and lentils

Check out yufeed for recipes, and click on the following link to read up on case studies linking poor diet to diminished mental health and capacity: How Food Affects Mental Health – The New York Times (nytimes.com)

To learn more about Nutritional Psychiatry, please check out: Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food – Harvard Health



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *