THE FOOD-MOOD CONNECTION


Image of a healthy salad

There is a very strong connection between the food we eat or don't eat and our moods. Since this works both ways, let's start with an example of how our moods affect our intake and choice of foods. Say you are depressed, do you overeat or just lose your appetite? Well, it's different for different people. Some people stuff down bags or plates of food to bury their depression while others hardly eat at all.

Now, let's look at this the other way where our food affects our moods. You went to a friend's party last night - you ate rich, oily food and drank lots of alcohol... to top it all, you had a big slice of cheesecake. If you have a weak constitution, you will get up the next morning feeling irritable and snappy - even angry. Say you have a good constitution, you will probably get up the next morning feeling alright. Try this for five days in a row and I can guarantee that you won't feel alright.

Now, let's bring in a new dimension. Say you are feeling irritated or angry, or are beginning to feel depressed, do you think you can eat or drink something healthy to make you feel better? The answer is 'Yes'. In most cases, you can. You may see changes immediately or you may see changes over a period of time, depending on how severe your mood-related issue is. Here are some ideas:

  • Feeling angry - A green juice shot may help cool you down.

  • Feeling sad - A bowl of arugula and pear salad with cranberries & walnuts can lift up your spirits.

  • Feeling anxious - A bowl of creamy paneer with roti can leave you feeling centered.

  • Feeling tired - A warm bowl of rice and lentils can help comfort and rejuvenate you.

Say you feel angry all the time, does that mean you will drink a green juice everyday for all meals? No. You could incorporate it into your daily diet as a snack for the next few days. When your anger dissipates and you feel calm, you can remove it from your diet and observe how you feel. Bring it back in if it seems to be working for you - always remembering to be mindful and accepting of your current situation, listening to and honoring your body, and finally living in accordance with the seasons - internal & external. For mood issues that are severe, making changes in your diet may help such mood issues. For severe mood-issues, it is always best to work with a nutrition coach and a medical health practitioner to see results over a period of time. If for some reason you cannot consult either, make sure you find a form of exercise that works for you and make the following changes to your diet:

  • Shift to whole foods

  • Eat more vegetables and some fruits

  • Eat good quality fats

  • Choose and eat animal protein wisely

  • Switch to better-quality dairy products

  • Switch to good-quality sugar substitutes

Make these changes and you will slowly begin to tune into the needs of your body... you will also start noticing which foods pull you up and which foods bring you down. You will truly begin to understand the food-mood connection. If you do, send me a note or leave a comment on how these changes have changed you!