Door 43 wellbeing blog: How food affects mood

Door 43 wellbeing blog: How food affects mood

Sadie White No Comment

Hey everyone, it’s Christos here from Door 43. I’m one of the social prescribing link workers and today I’m going to be explaining what a balanced diet is and also how the food you eat can impact your mood and thoughts.

As restrictions continue to be eased and we begin being able to do more and more with our time, we need to make sure we have enough energy to cope with our increased activity levels. A healthy, balanced diet is always something to consider but with continuous changes taking place in our lives right now, you could say it is of even greater importance.

Let me ask you a question then… what is a balanced diet? If you’re unsure and would like to find out then I suggest you keep reading, but don’t worry, I’ll try my best to keep it simple. So here goes…

What is a balanced diet?

A balanced diet is one that incorporates all the five food groups including carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fibre and vitamins & minerals. Now you might be asking yourself, well what foods will provide me with these five food groups? Good question! So first let me explain to you the importance of these five food groups and where you can find them, followed by ways to achieve a balanced diet.

Carbohydrates

What you need to know about carbohydrates is that they ultimately provide your body with energy. Great sources include foods such as potatoes, rice, pasta, bread and oats. Let me give you another tip though. Wholemeal varieties are considered to be the best option as they release energy more steadily while also containing more vitamins and fibre. Often described as the main source of energy for the brain as well as muscles, eating regular meals based on carbohydrates in the form of unrefined starchy foods (listed above) can positively impact mood and behaviour so in turn are good for mental health as well as physical health.

Protein

The main benefits of protein are to build and repair muscle. Lean meat, fish, eggs and cheese are really good sources of protein while great plant-based options include peas, beans, lentils, nuts and seeds. Similarly to carbohydrates being important for your mental health, proteins provide the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. With all the current changes to our lives at the moment our thoughts and feelings are likely to be affected regularly, so try to keep on top of your protein intake to support during these times.

Fats

A lot of people try to avoid fats but believe me when I say that all fats aren’t the same. Your brain needs fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 to function and develop. These kinds of fats can be found in oily fish, poultry, nuts, olive and sunflower oils, seeds, avocados, milk, yogurt, cheese and eggs. There are also other fats essential to health including monounsaturates (e.g. olive oil) and polyunsaturates (e.g. sunflower oil). It’s the trans fats that you want to avoid or eat in moderation, which you tend to find in cakes, biscuits and fried foods… all the foods that taste so god damn good!

Fibre

The importance of fibre is often forgotten about but to achieve a healthy digestive system I suggest you make sure you’re eating the right foods. Your gut can reflect your emotional feelings and if you’re stressed or anxious your gut may slow down or speed up. So to support healthy digestion, foods high in fibre include wholegrain products such as oats, cereals, bread, and pasta, and also beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables.

Vitamins & Minerals

Now you must have heard about eating your five a day! Although some experts now say that seven is the magic number when considering fruit and vegetables. And I’ve even heard the number ten be branded as being the optimum amount. Either way, you might be asking the question, how much is one portion. Well, as a general rule, one portion is roughly a handful, small bowl or small glass. The reason why the recommendations keep going up however is because fruit and vegetables are packed with so many important nutrients including vitamins, minerals and fibre, which control a range of bodily functions to keep you physically and mentally healthy. So get a variety of different colours in your diet for a good range of nutrients and begin to achieve at least that five a day benchmark.

Ok so I think that’s enough nutrition talk for one day! Hopefully you’ve picked up a few tips that you can introduce into your diet and lifestyle. If you do decide to make any changes then I’d suggest you try to make steady, gradual changes rather than anything too quick and drastic. Your body needs time to adapt and get used to new ways otherwise you’ll run the risk of a falling back into old habits. Now one last tip to finish! To optimise both your physical and mental wellbeing, combine a healthy balanced diet with regular exercise. Your future self will be grateful for it believe me.

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