Good Food blog
Foods to improve your mood
Blue Monday is fast approaching, but it’s not all doom and gloom - we can improve your mood with food!
The third Monday in January is known as Blue Monday and is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Not with our help, we hope - which is why we spoke to Priya Tew, a dietician, nutritionist and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, who'll be keep you smiling throughout Blue Monday and beyond.
“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," Priya explains. "When you eat and what you eat has a big impact on how you feel and on your energy levels."
Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals leads to low blood sugar levels, which can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and craving sugar. Planning regular meals will avoid these danger points in the day. Choose foods that have a lower glyacemic index that will help fill you up and sustain energy levels for longer as they keep blood sugars stable. Try cooking with lentils and beans, choose oaty recipes like porridge or muesli and add a low fat yoghurt to your lunch box.
Eat happy grains
Wholegrain carbohydrates are lower in glyacemic index than white versions and also increase the amount of tryptophan (essential amino acid) that enters the brain, resulting in more mood-enhancing serotonin (the happy hormone) being produced. Include wholegrain bread, pasta, oats and wholegrain cereals at meals. Try adding pearl barley to soups or make a bulgur wheat salad.
Snack between meals
Fruit and vegetables are always great to snack on, but also try to include some protein and wholegrain carbohydrates in your grazing. Great choices include oatcakes with hummous, slices of apple with a sprinkle of seeds or carrot sticks with cream cheese dip.
Eat your five-a-day
The Mediterranean diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables, nuts, fish, olive oil, cereals and some red wine (go on, treat yourself) - and eating these foods is associated with better mental health scores. So making sure you are meeting the five-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 can really work!
Eat after exercising
After exercise you need to replenish your glycogen stored, repair muscles and rehydrate. Milk is an excellent way to do this; have a glass or make a milkshake straight after exercise. Then have a meal or snack rich in carbohydrate and protein one or two hours after exercise. Try chicken with pasta and vegetables or a tuna salad sandwich.
Finally, B happy
Eating more B vitamins will help improve energy levels and lift your mood. Thiamine (B1) is reported to improve mood, increase energy levels and help with better cognitive function. Eating more green vegetables, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers will boost your B vitamin levels and wholegrain cereals are also fortified with these nutrients.
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.