Food And Mood: How To Boost Your Mood And Brain Function
Understanding the link between what we eat and how we feel psychologically is important if we want to feel good and have a brain that’s working optimally. The brain needs a lot of fuel and nutrients to keep it ticking over 24 hours a day, and if it’s running on empty, we can experience a range of symptoms such as low mood, irritability, poor concentration or memory, anxiety, sweet cravings, confusion and tiredness. I feel that Food And Mood is such a relevant topic for all of us- in the past I’ve given Food And Mood talks at various organisations, and now that I’m running workshops at my home I’ve decided to do a re-run of this important subject. Brain health is a big issue for a lot of us, and more than ever people are keen to avoid dementia as well as avoid or tackle depression.
Address Diet And Lifestyle For Brain Health
Our diet has a big influence on our mood and day-to-day functioning. The brain requires a whole host of nutritional building blocks to manufacture brain chemicals, which determine our mood and motivation levels. For good brain health and well-being we must consider dietary, biological and lifestyle factors such as poor food choices, hormone imbalances, dieting and stress, and in my Food And Mood workshop I cover these as well as provide some meal and snack ideas to help people to start taking practical steps towards feeling good and functioning well.
Brain Chemicals- How They Influence Our Mood And Our Daily Lives
The brain manufactures a variety of brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, which influence how we feel and function. Some brain chemicals such as serotonin make us feel happy and calm; others such as dopamine are involved in motivation, pleasure and reward. In order for the body to manufacture brain chemicals it needs a host of ingredients, which our diet can provide. This is why a balanced diet is key for mood and brain health, as different foods provide the different building blocks required to make those brain chemicals.
Don’t Be Fat Phobic If You Want A Healthy Brain
Many people are ‘fat-phobic’, especially if they have a history of dieting. Over the decades, common weight loss and health advice has been to eat low-fat foods and to avoid high-fat foods based on reasons such as dietary fat containing more calories than protein or carbohydrates, and too much dietary fat raising our cholesterol levels. However, the brain is a fatty organ and is approximately 60% fat, and brain cell membranes need this fat to function properly. The type of fat the brain requires is known as ‘essential’ fat, which means that the body cannot make these fats, it has to get them from the diet. If your diet doesn’t contain these fats, your brain won’t get what it needs to function properly; so by making sure your diet contains these essential fats, you can help your brain to function better and you might even find that your mood improves too. In countries where there is a higher consumption of these essential fats, there appears to be lower rates of depression. In my Food And Mood talk I explain which foods provide these essential fats, along with some meal and snack ideas to help you keep your intake topped up.
How The Type And Timing Of Food Is Important For Our Mood And Brain
The brain is very glucose-hungry, and it needs a large and regular supply of it to keep it ticking over 24 hours a day. When we eat, our blood sugar levels rise, but the rate and extent to which they rise and subsequently drop can determine how we feel- and I don’t just mean in terms of hunger levels. If you experience that ‘afternoon slump’ after lunch or you have a tendency to skip meals, or you find yourself irritable, restless or anxious, part of the reason could be down to the type and timing of the food you eat. The aim of my talk is to give people tips on how to keep their blood sugar levels balanced. This can be helpful not only from the point of view of your mood and brain function, but it’s also vital in terms of managing your weight. This Food And Mood talk does in fact link very much with weight management, because how we feel psychologically can determine our food choices- comfort eating, for example!
Tackling Low Mood: Multiple Causes And Considerations
For our mood to remain balanced our brain chemicals need to be in balance, but there are lots of other factors too that can cause us to experience low mood, and we need to look at diet, lifestyle and our environment when it comes to tackling low mood issues. For example, ongoing high levels of stress, hormone imbalances, a poor diet, lack of sunlight, lack of exercise and loneliness are just a few of the factors that can contribute to us feeling under par psychologically.
As well as considering the dietary and nutritional factors that determine how we feel and function, the aim of my Food And Mood talk is to look at the big picture, to enable people to consider their own diet and lifestyle and to target those areas that need improving the most in order to get both brain and body functioning well. When we feel good, we’re more likely to have the energy and motivation to live a healthy lifestyle, and vice versa- if we eat well and lead a healthy lifestyle, we will feel good.
Want to find out more? Come along to my Food And Mood talk, tickets available HERE via Eventbrite.
For more information about how I support clients with their weight loss and weight maintenance goals, see ‘Services‘.