How Your Food Affects Your Mood

Photo by Ella Olsson on

Good afternoon lovelies.

It’s a cold, wet horrible day here in the UK, and yet something that has really been on my mind (or rather, affecting it) the past few days is the fact that what we eat can really impact the way we feel. Don’t believe me?

Have you ever noticed how coffee makes you feel more awake or sugar makes you feel hyperactive? It’s not coincidence, darlings, it’s the science of our metabolism. Our body metabolises everything we eat.

Even, unfortunately, the bad things.

Your body is essentially one great big science lab, requiring all kinds of chemical formulae and inputs from us to keep it running smoothly. If it doesn’t get the nutrients it needs, things start to go wrong. We can develop physical illnesses like aches and pains, weight loss or gain and brittle bones. But it’s not only our body that can be impacted, our thoughts can be, too.

For our body, the more processed our food is, the longer it takes down. In order for our body (an organic process) to be able to break down food easily, we need to eat organically. The more chemicals and yucky bits that are added at production and now involved in the digestion process, the more our body needs to break down, the more toxins get left lying around and the worse we are going to feel. If the gut-brain connection really exists (and why else would it be called ‘gut instinct’?) then there is every reason that a bad diet would affect the way we think and feel. Eliminate the bad guys from your diet, and you should perk up within a day or two.

Last year, I went on vacation. While I was there, I developed the worst lower-right abdominal pain that I’d had in a while. It felt burning and gnawing and I feared the worst.

“Not now, not on holiday” I thought. I tried to function and enjoy myself, but the pain was unbearable. I could last a family holiday without needing to be admitted for a ruptured appendix, surely?

Some Senokot, a few glasses of water and a bathroom break later, I was perfectly fine again. Shaken and ashamed of what just happened, but nonetheless pain-free.

The cause? Pizza, garlic bread, spicy chicken wings, topped off with a Cornish pasty. Crucially, a whole tonne of carbs and nothing of what is supposed to be good for me.

Over the past few days, my diet has been awful. I got through a Coconut Toblerone and it’s given me all kinds of hell with acid. After I had a pizza on Tuesday, I spent all of yesterday with anxiety and brain fog which begs to the question: Is it really worth it?

Damn you Pizza GoGo for making your wings taste so good.

Living with anxety and depression doesn’t mean we need to cut out what we like to eat and drink, it just means we need to be aware of the affects that these treats have on us. Pay attention to what gives you an upset or noisy stomach, and your body and mind may thank you.

Some of the most common culprits include:

  • Refined sugar
  • Processed foods (canned, frozen, fast food)
  • White flour (bread, pasta)
  • Dairy
  • Sweeteners
  • Caffeine

I’m not saying don’t have treats, but please, please be aware of what treats are so much of a treat for you, really. If something you eat causes you to feel anxious, confused or miserable, is it so much of a ‘treat’ at all?

Remember the saying “you are what you eat”, if you want to feel great, you need to eat great:

  • Eat plenty of lean, unprocessed white meat (skin removed is ideal)
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits & vegetables
  • Try giving up dairy and see if that helps, too
  • Have sweet treats in moderation
  • Opt for water or no added sugar fruit juices instead of tea or coffee
  • Cook fresh, rather than buying frozen or ordering in

Above all else, remember that exercise is also important for metabolism so be sure to keep moving for at least 30 minutes everyday!

As for me, I’m now heeding my own advice and snacking on satsumas and cranberries. It’s a far cry from nutty chocolate but hey, at least it’s festive!

What foods do you find make your mental health particularly bad? Let me know in the comments!

Helen xx