Today is known as Blue Monday as by this stage Christmas and New Year memories have faded, everyone’s skint and a few more wet, cold months of winter are before us. However, British Dietetic Association spokesperson, Priya Tew, here gives us some tips tips on how eating the right food really can improve your mood! (The British Dietetic Association is the professional association for registered dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals.)
“Our mood is affected by many things that we are unable to alter, but what we eat is one big variable we can take charge of. When you eat and what you eat has a big impact on how you feel and on your energy levels,” she says. “Skipping meals leads to low blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and craving sugar. Planning regular meals and small snacks will avoid these danger points in your day. Choosing foods that have a lower glyacemic index (GI) will help fill you up and sustain your energy levels for longer as they your blood sugars stay stable. Try adding beans and lentils to dishes, choose ‘oaty’ dishes like porridge or muesli and add a low fat yoghurt to your lunch. Whole grain carbohydrates are not only lower in glyacemic index than the white versions but they increase the amount of tryptophan than enters the brain, resulting in more mood enhancing serotonin being produced. Include wholegrain bread, pasta, oats, and wholegrain cereals at meals, try adding pearl barley to soups and bulgur wheat to salads.”
The great news for diabetics is that wholegrains are also great for blood glucose levels, releasing their energy nice and slow… low GI foods being a mainstay of the diabetic diet.
In addition, B vitamins play a vital role in energy release. Therefore eating more of these will help improve your energy levels, lifting your mood. Continues Priya, “Females taking a thiamine supplement reported improved mood, a clearer head, increased energy levels and better cognitive function. Folate is another micronutrient that has been shown to be linked to mood through blood samples taken from 58 men. Eating more green vegetables, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers will boost your thiamine and folate levels. Wholegrain cereals are also fortified with these nutrients. Iron is well known to be linked to fatigue and low energy. It’s lesser know that there is also a link to poor mood and concentration. Topping up your iron will boost that feel good factor. Include red meat, dried fruit, green vegetables and wholegrains in your diet.”
It’s fairly well-known that the Mediterranean diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables nuts, fish, olive oil, cereals and some red wine. Eating these foods is associated with better mental health scores. So making sure you are meeting the 5 a day recommendation for fruit and veggies, go wholegrain with your cereals and sticking to healthy fats such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts really can work! It should mean that 2013 turns out to be a happier and healthier year.