Happy Meals - How To Eat To Feel Happy

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The proverbial saying You are what you eat” has come to into the English language by quite a meandering route. In 1826, the French lawyer Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote, in Physiologie du Gout, ou Meditations de Gastronomie Transcendante:

Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”

 And what’s interesting is that even 100 years ago, we seemed to understand the direct link between nutrition and health. When this phrase made its first appeared about 100 years ago in the Bridgeport Telegraph newspaper under an advertisement for beef, with the tagline:

“Ninety per cent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.”

 Does What I Eat Affect my Mood?

When Dianne came to me she presented with frequent mood swings and energy drops throughout the day. This was really affecting her work and personal life and she couldn’t understand why?

Dianne said that she ate healthily during day and even managed to pass up the cakes and pizza frequently offered in her workplace, but later “rewarded” herself with sweet treats in the evenings.

What Dianne didn’t realize at the time was that her evening sugar treats weren’t just making her feel guilty– they were affecting her emotional well-being, too.

The Connection Between Nutrition and Emotional Well-Being Is Powerful.

It’s widely known that how we fuel and move our bodies can influence our physical health, and of great interest to me as a Mood & Food Coach, I know first-hand that it can also influence our mental health.

You see I struggled with anxiety, panic attacks and depression for many years. And what I didn’t know was the impact that my diet had on my mental health. 

Most people do not seem to associate diet with how they feel – their mood.

There have been many have observational studies, across countries, cultures and age groups, and they all conclude that diet has a direct impact on mental health.

The Food and Mood Connection

Did you know that our brain is affected by what’s on our plate?

Let me spill the beans here – your food choices influence your mood, mental alertness, memory, and emotional wellbeing.

Since about 95% of your serotonin is produced in your gastrointestinal tract, 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.

And the inner workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food, but also guide your emotions

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.

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” – Ann Wigmore

How Can Food Affect Mood?

 “I don’t have mood swings, I have food swings”  

Certain foods and nutrients help your brain to make chemicals that can impact your mood, attention and focus, while other foods can zap your energy.

Knowing what foods, we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly.

However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.

Improving your diet may help to:

  • improve your mood
  • give you more energy
  • help you think more clearly.

Here are 5 Tips to Lift Your Mood with Food

What I call “Happy Meals”

1.Eat A Mediterranean Diet

 A five-year study of the Mediterranean diet, is among the first providing convincing evidence that you can directly alter your brain health by what you put in your mouth.

 A Mediterranean-style diet (a diet high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.) supplemented with fish oil led to a reduction in depression among participants, which was sustained six months after the intervention.

2.Look After Your Gut- It’s Your Second Brain

Your gut can reflect how you are feeling emotionally. If you’re stressed or anxious this can make your gut slow down or speed up.

  • For healthy digestion you need to have plenty of fibre, fluid and exercise regularly.
  • Healthy gut foods include: fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, beans, pulses, live yoghurt and other probiotics.

3.You Need Enough Protein

Protein contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.

  • Protein consumption (from foods like fish, beef, chicken, turkey, tofu, beans, eggs and unsweetened yogurt) has been linked to higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are brain chemicals that play a role in your mood, motivation and concentration.
  • Protein is in: lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes (peas, beans and lentils), soya products, nuts and seeds.

4.Eating the Right Fats

Your brain needs fatty acids (such as omega-3 and -6) to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones.

  • Healthy fats are found in: oily fish, poultry, nuts (especially walnuts and almonds), olive and sunflower oils, seeds (such as sunflower and pumpkin), avocados, milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs.

5.Happy Mood Nutrients

 Include the Following Nutrients for a happy mood:

  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA).
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Selenium
  • Thiamine
  • Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin B12.
  • Vitamin C.

Here’s a video to help you Discover 3 Healthy Habits To Boost Your Mood

And lastly, you may find it beneficial to explore the relationship between what you eat and how you feel.

You can achieve this by keeping a “Mood and Food” journal – providing a clear picture of how your food choices affect your health.

For example: record the following in your journal: 

  • Awareness of your food choices, why you make them
  • Assess how you feel mentally and physically after certain meals

Now I would love to hear from you….

  • How are your current meals affecting your mood?
  • Are they Happy Meals?

Please comment below, I would love to hear your story.❤️❤️

Irena Geller

🍓Food & Mood 😃 Coach

BSc (Biomed), Cert IV (PT), Wellness Coach (Level 3))

I coach busy women to put down their fork and pick up their life.

If you want to eat well consistently and lose weight effortlessly book free 30-minute-coaching session with me and I’ll show you how to add years to your life and live those years to the fullest, looking amazing and feeling confident!

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