Did You Know There Is a Strong Relation Between the Food You Eat and Your Mood?
All our survival depends on the availability of food but the right kind of food is essential for our health and well being. We all know the importance of correct nutrients for our physical well being but what we know little of, is how much the right kind of food contributes to the right kind of mood. Hippocrates was the earliest thinker who mentioned about the healing power of food.
People resort to variety of mechanisms for emulating their moods especially negative moods. One is by intaking or imbibing certain substances or fluids. This could include, food, drinks, chocolates etc. Research has shown that people try to compensate or improve their moods by consuming certain foods and therefore, it has been known that certain foods are found to be taken more during certain moods. The results of the research came out with startling facts.
People reported greater intake of junk foods when they were feeling stressed or depressed or unhappy and greater increase of healthy foods when they were feeling happier. And these studies were followed up by others which indicated that these eating behaviours were a kind of compensation for the emotion which triggered it. These kind of mood influenced eating behaviours are shown by both normal people as well as by people who Infact, leaving out certain foods can also improve one’s health and moods as well as improve mental health.
Can you Control Your Mood With Food?
In other words, can one change one’s mental attitude and state of mind by making relevant changes in one’s diet? Well a lot of studies are pointing to a definite influence of food on the state of mind and hence one has to be very careful when following diets and choosing what kind of food to eat.
1. Carbohydrates– Do not eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. An optimal level of consumption is necessary as intake of carbohydrates promotes the levels of the amino acid tryptophan in your body. High levels of tryptophan will allow the synthesis of more amounts of serotonin. Serotonin is a mood regulator, synthesised by the brain cells. Hence diet should have optimal levels of carbohydrates as well as fish and vitamin D.
2. Omega 3 fatty acids are thought to confer protection against depression and are found in fish, flaxseed and walnuts. They are believed to have an effect on the neurotransmitter activity of the brain
3. Controlling caffeinated drinks is advisable as caffeine is a stimulant and may tend to keep you over charged and not allow you to relax. A little dose is a fine but a large dose can exacerbate anxiety, irritability and stomach upsets.
4. Sugar is a definite no. The fast life has made many of us victims of a lifestyle too heavily dependent on consumption of sugar and processed food. Excess sugar can lead to metabolic disorders including diabetes and hence artificial sources of sugar are to be avoided at all costs. It also causes mood swings, depression etc.
5. Proteins are also vital for maintaining your moods. A healthy diet should have plenty of protein which can be obtained from nuts, fish, chicken, eggs, seafood, beans and cheese.
6. Drinking plenty of water and avoiding caffeinated and carbonated beverages will keep you fresh and fit and make you feel lighter.
7. Eating freshly prepared food is one of the best ways of ensuring that you remain fresh also and your mood remains good as your body uptakes and responds well to all fresh ingredients.
8. Comfort foods like starchy foods, breads, pastries etc bring about only temporary comfort and long term discomfort. Their effect wears off and you will feel more tired and listless. Instead eat fresh salads and fresh fruits which will provide good and lasting source of nutrients and energy.
9. Chocolates can perk up moods and boost brain serotonin.
Extreme Cases of Food and Eating Behaviours:
When it comes to eating according to moods, one also needs to be aware of the side effects of it.
An example is bulimia. It is an eating disorder in which a large amount of food is consumed in a small amount of time and thus involves binge eating. This kind of eating habit involves intake of large quantities of high calorie substances like sugar rich drinks, fats and carbohydrates. Such foods include sweets, soft drinks, chips and females showed a preference for soft foods like breads and pastries which can be eaten easily and provides some feeling of comfort. It has been shown that a binge attack is brought on by periods of strong negative moods such as depression, stress and sadness. Binge eating may be in response to the factor which is causing the stress or the depression and people think that by choosing this way, it would bring down or remove the factor.
Actually, it does not. In fact, binge eating builds up more stress and exacerbates the original cause and maintains the binge eating. This is dangerous. Hence, people must make concerted efforts, take help to target the root factor of the depression or stress, rather than combat stress indirectly and fruitlessly by taking it on yourself.
Seasonal changes can also bring out changes in moods and hence eating behaviours. This is usually referred to as Seasonal Affective Disorder, which causes depressions every year in a periodic fashion and such changes in eating habits usually involve marked favour for carbohydrates.
Obesity can also cause occurrences of depression which lead to binge eating and gorging on carbohydrate rich foods.