Choosing what food you put in your body can be an effective tool for managing how you feel on a day-to-day basis. It’s so simple it almost shouldn’t work! We all know that feeling you get from eating a takeaway - an initial high because it’s so damn delicious, quickly followed by laying on the sofa with a food baby because you can’t be bothered to do anything. There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself now and again - send me a pizza and it’ll be gone in a flash. But there are a few easy ways to make your food transform your mood.
Make it easy for yourself
The basics of a healthy diet have been drilled into us since an early age; stay hydrated, eat your five-a-day, and don’t overdo it on the alcohol or fast food. But if we dig a little deeper, we can find ways to nourish our bodies more holistically. Some professionals will say that you should follow a Mediterranean diet, others will say that going plant based is best. After a lot of years spent struggling with my relationship with food, I’ve found that a healthy, balanced diet with protein, whole grain carbohydrates and lots of fruit and vegetables is the best option for me, as it isn’t too restrictive or hard to follow.
Eat your wholegrains
Learn what makes your brain and body feel good, and don’t reach for the biscuit tin every time you feel a bit low. It takes the body longer to metabolise whole, unprocessed foods, which keeps you feeling fuller for longer and also helps to maintain a steady blood sugar level. It has also been proven that vitamins from your diet help the function of enzymes that enable internal reactions, including the synthesis of serotonin. That means the right foods will naturally give you a boost.
Think twice about that sugary snack
High-sugar diets exacerbate anxiety and decrease the body’s ability to cope with stress. Processed and sugary foods cause your blood sugar levels to soar and then plummet continuously, and as a result our brains become addicted to sugar, as we are always trying to avoid that pesky sugar low. During a sugar rush, your heart races, your vision can blur and you have difficulty thinking. The sugar low that comes afterward can cause shaking and tension, and you’ll quickly feel hungry again.
I’m not saying you should cut sugar out completely – our bodies need a little sugar to keep us healthy. But it’s worth being mindful of where your sugar is coming from, and how much you are consuming. A jar of your favourite pasta sauce could easily contain eight teaspoons of sugar. The daily sugar allowance for women is also eight teaspoons per day, and you don’t want to be getting all of your sugar from savoury foods when there’s a little bit of chocolate calling your name! Eat regularly and choose natural sources of sugar as they will affect the body completely differently to the processed stuff.
Nutrition is one of the easiest acts of self-care. When you give your mind and body the love that it deserves, rather than treating it with anger and frustration, your mood and energy levels will be lifted. Naturally, it will take your body time to adjust to any dietary change, and it is common to feel withdrawal symptoms. However, keep at your new regime and you could see a huge change in both your energy levels and your mental wellbeing. Once you start feeling a change, you will stop worrying about what you can’t eat, and start focussing on what you can feed your body to make it feel amazing.