Food = Mood
August 8, 2018 | View PDF
A large body of scientific literature- and the Snickers advertisements- shows that what we eat has a significant effect on how we feel, think and act, and our susceptibility to disease. An increasing number of studies show that there is a direct link between diet and emotional wellness.
Anyone who has attended a child’s birthday party and watched chaos ensue after ten young children eat cake, ice cream and pop, can confirm that the consumption of certain nutrients alters mood and energy level. Sweet foods have been shown to induce “happy” feelings in the short-term, but have the opposite effect on the longer-term. According to Psychology Today, peaks and lows in blood sugar, the physiological consequence of a sugar binge, may increase the symptoms of mood disorders, meaning that it can worsen the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Further, high sugar intake may also make it harder to learn and memorize information.
There are also long-term effects of maintaining a high-sugar diet. In addition to weight gain and an increased risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, studies show that consuming more than 16 teaspoons of sugar per day had an increased chance of experiencing a common mental health condition after five years, compared to men with lower sugar intake.
On the flip side, there are also nutrients that may have a positive impact on emotional wellness. Research has shown that consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids, found in foods like salmon, walnuts and chia seeds, may combat mood disorders. Foods containing certain vitamins, including vitamin D and B-family vitamin, also impact mood. To increase vitamin D intake, spend more time in the sunlight for natural absorption, or consume vitamin-fortified foods like milk and orange juice. Good sources of B vitamins are dark leafy greens, cauliflower and broccoli, citrus fruits, beans, and nuts.
This isn’t to say that you can’t indulge in sweet foods anymore, but consume in moderation. One way to tackle a sweet tooth is by finding lower sugar options that offer something beneficial, such as strawberries. Chocolate covered strawberries or flavored Greek yogurt are great options when trying to satisfy a sugar craving.
If you have any questions or concerns about your diet talk with your family doctor or a dietician.