How can your diet affect your mood?

By lucy lennon May 10, 2019

How can your diet affect how you feel…? According to health writer Angela Haupt, the following things can affect your mood significantly.

  1. If you don’t eat regularly: food is fuel for the body, so when you skip a meal, you can feel tired and moody! When you go too long without eating your blood sugar levels decrease and then the mood swings arrive! Try and eat every four hours to keep your energy levels up
  2. If you avoid carbs: carbs are often seen as the devil of food groups, but your body actually needs carbs to produce serotonin – a brain chemical that makes you feel calm, represses appetite and boosts your mood. It’s true – carbs really do make you feel happy.
  3. If you aren’t having enough omega 3: found in foods like salmon, mackerel and sardines – it is said to improve mood and memory. Lack of omega 3 can result in feelings of depression and stress. Countries like Japan have a low depression rate and consume a high amount of oily fish.
  4. If you neglect important nutrients: not having enough iron in your diet can result in feeling low, tired, and having a lack of attention. Iron rich foods include red meat, egg yolks and dried fruit.
  5. If you eat too much fat: greasy foods (like crisps) can be linked to depression and dementia. Also, a high-fat meal can make you feel immediately sluggish. It takes a lot of work for your body to digest fat – so it’s no surprise that it’s tired afterwards!
  6. If you drink too much: This can apply to both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks! What you drink can affect your mood just as much as what you eat does. In small amounts, caffeine can boost your energy levels and mental performance, however too much caffeine can encourage anxiety, nervousness and mood swings. If you’re trying to feel better and have more energy – water is the best thing for you!

Our health and welbeing lead Chris Mottershaw commented that improving your diet has been linked with improving mood, allowing us to think more clearly and give us increased energy levels. He said to aim to have more small meals across the day as large meals can increase the ‘sugar spikes’ with our blood sugar levels, this can cause us to feel lethargic and tired, decreasing our mood, and causing us more likely to snack on those unhealthier foods. Stay hydrated, 6-8 glasses of water (1.2l – 1.6l) a day is enough to help with concentration levels, but remember if it is hot or you are exercising more than usual you may need more water. A diet high in fruit & veg, protein, and healthy fats from fish has been linked to a healthier brain as these give the building blocks, healthy omega-3, and -6 fats, and vitamins the brain needs to make decisions everyday.

Everybody Sport and Recreation offer a range of health programmes that can support you. If you would like more information, please contact our health team on [email protected]