Do you think of your food as effecting your mood or only that your mood influences your cravings? “Connecting Food and Your Mood: What you eat (and drink) may affect your state of mind” (Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter, 6/17, vol. 35, No. 4) tells us that both statements have truth to them.
Scientists have “found that there may be a relationship between the risk of common mental health issues—including depression and anxiety—and our diet quality. Robin Kanarek, Ph.D., a Tufts psychology professor, says, “The role of diet in mental health may be particularly important for populations who are vulnerable to nutritional shortfalls, such as infants and the elderly, and those consuming a less-than-optimal diet.” Her food recommendations should not surprise you—“nutrient-rich plant foods, such as vegetables, fruits and whole grains, and omega-3-rich foods, such as salmon and flax seed—because they’re associated with a decreased risk of depression and anxiety.”
Alternately, “A Western-style diet—rich in foods high in refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour), highly processed foods and sugary beverages—is associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety.” She acknowledges that more research needs to be done to confirm a causal relationship between diet and mood. Current studies have shown that diet may affect “gut microbiota (bacteria and other microbes), inflammation, oxidative stress (cell damage) and brain plasticity (changing structure, wiring and function)...”
When you choose foods, do you think about how they might affect your health? How about considering foods not as “bad,” but to be eaten sparingly because they might harm your body. Alternately, you might think of foods not as “good,” but that, when they’re eaten in larger quantity, are likely to keep you healthier. It’s time we stop making foods a moral issue and focus on their nutritional impact. If you wish to become healthier, mentally and physically, there are foods that will help that process along.
Also, when you eat, it’s important to notice how foods feel in your body. Does eating a pint of ice cream in a sitting really feel great in your tummy? What happens after the sugar rush? And what might that sugar due to the rest of your body? On the other hand, when you eat fresh fruits or vegetables, how does your body feel? Sure, some lower nutrition foods taste good in the moment, but (and I say this from vast personal experience), they rarely feel good in our bodies and they also don’t give us the confidence that they’ll benefit our bodies in the long run.