The proverbial saying ‘You are what you eat’ is the notion that to be fit and healthy you need to eat good food. This quote originated from Brillat-Savarin and Feuerbach work, where they state that the food one eats has a bearing on what one’s state of mind and health.
You Are What You Eat
The phrase, “you are what you eat” is literally true.
Let me spill the beans here – your food choices influence your mood, mental alertness, memory, and emotional wellbeing.
If you consider the days you are in a good mood, chances are that you ate a healthy combination of macro- nutrients that suit your body type.
Then consider the days you may have indulged in something sugary and had a blood sugar crash and felt agitated and craving more sugar.
When you consume sugar -the glucose is quickly released giving you a burst of energy but this is followed by a slump. Too much sugar results in blood sugar fluctuations, causing mood swings, anxiety, irritability, headaches, and increased depression.
Food can act as medicine but it can also literally “poison” your mind
What? Food affects your mood?
“Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food “
For thousands of years, people have believed that food could influence their health and well-being. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, once said: “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”. In medieval times, people started to take great interest in how certain foods affected their mood and temperament.
The past 80 years have seen immense progress in research, primarily short-term human trials and animal studies, showing how certain foods change brain structure, chemistry, and physiology thus affecting mood and performance. These studies suggest that foods directly influencing brain neurotransmitter systems have the greatest effects on mood, at least temporarily. In turn, mood can also influence our food choices and expectations on the effects of certain foods can influence our perception.
Gut feelings: How food affects your mood
Your gut health and diet can positively or negatively affect your mood.
When you consider the connection between the brain and the gut, it’s important to know that 90% of serotonin receptors are located in the gut. and your gastrointestinal tract is lined with a hundred million nerve cells, or neurons, it makes sense that the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions
There is anatomical and physiologic two-way communication between the gut and brain via the vagus nerve. The gut-brain axis offers a greater understanding of the connection between diet and disease, including depression and anxiety.
The balance between the good and bad bacteria is disrupted when you eat foods that contain chemical additives and ultra-processed foods, this has an effect on your gut environment and increases your risk of diseases.
The food-mood relationship
Try to follow a well-balanced diet rich in protein, moderate in carbohydrates and low-moderate in fat since this could generally improve mood and energy levels.
Here are some specific foods and healthy habits that may help boost your mood.
- Try eating a “clean” diet for two to three weeks — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar.
- Consider choosing organic produce and eating “clean” — that means cutting out all processed foods and sugar.
- Avoid packaged and processed foods, which are high in unwanted food additives and preservatives that disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Eat fruit and vegetables whole rather than juicing them, you will get the fiber and reduce the sugar content.
- Include fiber in your plan like whole grains and legumes. Aim for at least 5 grams of fiber per serving.
- Replace refined grains like white rice with whole grains like brown rice, wild rice, or bulgur.
- Include foods such as plain yogurt without added sugars as it is probiotic-rich.
- Adding fermented foods such as kefir (unsweetened), sauerkraut, or kimchi can be helpful to maintain a healthy gut.
- Eat lean poultry and seafood and less red meat each week.
- Eat a colourful range of fresh fruits and vegetables daily. Have a minimum of 4-5 servings of vegetables and 1-2 servings of fruit every day.
- Include an adequate supply of micronutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, iron, folic acid and thiamine.
And lastly hydrate with water , it lubricates your brain and improves your mood as well as concentration and focus. Feeling “Brain fog,” can be evidence that you need to hydrate.
And start paying attention to how eating different foods makes you feel — not just in the moment, but the next day. The amazing finding was that the diet did make a difference.
If you’re curious about how coaching could support you to achieve your goals and leave behind negative habits, book a free 15-minute session now.
Emotional Eating Coach
BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Wellness Coach (Level 3))
I coach 35+ women to put down their fork and pick up their life. If you want to end your struggles with excess weight, stress, and self-belief, using your strengths and capabilities, book a free 15-minute mini-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to transform your life.
If you’d like some inspiration to chew on instead of whatever’s in your fridge or pantry consider reading my regular posts.
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