They say you are what you eat, but have you ever really stopped to consider how food affects your mood? While most people know that fried foods make them feel sluggish and coffee gives them a jolt, there are deeper connections within the human body.
Your diet has the power to change your mental outlook — and even help you through challenging situations. Learn how your food affects your mood so you can reach for the right nutrients to live a happier, more balanced life.
#1) Your Diet Can Worsen Depression Symptoms
There are multiple ways that your diet can make you feel better or worse, mentally.
For example, studies have found that eating certain unhealthy foods (often highly-processed sugary food) can lead to feelings of depression. Additionally, one of the main symptoms of depression is a change in appetite or decrease in appetite, highlighting the connection that we have with food and our feelings.
More medical professionals are starting to notice this connection between diet and depression. They might ask patients what they eat or how their diet has changed since their depression symptoms have worsened. As part of the treatment process, patients may be encouraged to switch to healthier foods and avoid high sugar, high-fat meals.
#2) Some Food Can Put You in a Bad Mood
What you eat can actually put you in a bad mood.
Eating a lot of refined carbohydrates and foods filled with sugar might taste good at the time (and make you feel good momentarily). But, these types of food can be a big damper on your mood as your body begins to process them.
Refined white starches and simple sugars can cause your blood pressure to go up and down. So eating a candy bar or drinking a soda might give you a quick energy boost. But, then it will cause a crash that will leave you feeling even more tired and sluggish.
Also, avoid artificial sweeteners, highly processed foods, and food high in trans fats which can also drive a bad feeling physically and mentally.
#3) Some Foods Can Boost Your Mood
It’s not all bad news when it comes to how your food affects your mood.
There are multiple foods that have been known to create energy and a sense of positive well-being for those who eat them. These include low-fat proteins, fibrous food, and foods high in vitamin D and vitamin B-12 like:
- Low-fat Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Dark, leafy greens
- Brussels sprouts
This is because protein gives you energy that is sustainable beyond the short-term jolt of coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Lighter proteins, like chicken and fish, won’t give you that weighed-down feeling that comes with heavier, fattier meets. Additionally, the fiber and necessarily vitamins found in these good foods boost your overall nutrition and help your body overcome any weaknesses because of your diet.
Recommended Reading: Eat More Snacks: 21 Healthy Snack Under 200 Calories
#4) Poor Diet Can Lead to ADHD in Some Children
The connection between diet and mood starts at a young age. Most parents know how their child’s mood changes when they’re hungry, but the correlation goes deeper than that. Some researchers are exploring how diet plays a role in ADHD.
While many people point to sugar as a cause of hyperactivity, this research shows that it’s a lack of nutrients that actually may contribute to the disorder. When kids have sugary cereal for breakfast and pizza for lunch, they’re not able to get the nutrients they need to focus and have healthy energy levels throughout the day. This can potentially worsen ADHD symptoms.
Knowing the connection between diet and mental health can help parents raise their kids on healthy diets. Kids and teens can grow up with healthier eating habits, not only so they grow big and strong, but also so they protect their mental health as they age.
#5) Antidepressant Treatment Can Affect Your Gut
While your diet can affect how you feel throughout the day, how you feel can also affect your gut and digestion, further proving how closely connected these two bodily systems are.
According to Harvard Medical School, 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut. Serotonin is most often associated with creating feelings of well-being and happiness, and medical professionals have noted how changes in serotonin levels affect other parts of the body. For example, when someone is prescribed an antidepressant, the most common side effects are nausea, diarrhea, or gastrointestinal distress. This is because the medication affects the serotonin.
From a non-medical standpoint, you can see how your mental state affects what you eat. It’s tempting to pick up fast food when you’ve had a bad day or skip a meal when you are stressed. However, this can only make you feel worse and create a cycle of food affecting your mood which affects your food.
Learn More About How Your Food Affects Your Mood
At Loving Life Today, we believe in taking a full-body approach to mental health. We want to help you life your best life by considering every aspect of your life, from your personal relationships to your diet.
Look at your diet and see how your food affects your mood. You may be surprised at how a few small changes boost your feelings of well-being. Then, schedule an appointment with our team today to identify other opportunities to start you on the path of good mental health.