Food and Mood
Hey everyone, its Louiza here. Wellbeing Practitioner here at Be, the centre for Wellbeing. For this weeks #workplacewellbeingwednesday I will be looking at the relationship we have with food and how that can affect our mood, and overall wellbeing.
Right now in the run up to Christmas, temptation to indulge in our favourite delights are everywhere. Christmas markets are full of Churros, German Sausage, Donuts, Greek kebabs, French crepes, waffles, and not forgetting the mulled wine and gingerbread (yes with added cream) lattes.
The list is endless, and the short term gratification we receive when the flavours dance on our taste buds can release short bursts of dopamine and serotonin (happy hormones) However this (sometimes) sugar laden present comes at a price and that would be in the sharp comedown. This can result in fatigue, irritability, and even a sense of a hangover. Often after stabilising hours later, our bodies then can start craving those sugars again, and this further perpetuates the cycle.
This subject is particularly key right now, as we all know what happens after Christmas indulgence……gym memberships are at an all-time high, advertisements are all focused on new year, new you momentum. If that wasn’t enough social media sees everyone posting our resolutions many of which focus on weight loss. Again the cycle, it’s enough so make us feel dizzy and utterly trapped like that hamster in the wheel, not to mention that the promotion is mostly about diet and the way you look rather than how it is effecting your mental health.
Here’s the science bit by Emily. The brain is the fattiest organ in the body and made up of around 60% fatty acids. When you eat, are you thinking about the impact that it is having on your brain? There are ‘brain foods’ which we can eat which help neurogenesis (making new neurons in the brain). Several antioxidants, such as flavonoids, vitamin E, and curcumin, increase neurogenesis (see image). The brain also metabolises it's own energy with sugars being metabolised in a less clean way that fats and proteins.
Louiza: I know personally how hard that struggle can be with food. There have been countless times where I have been feeling tired, emotional and in need of comfort. I have gone straight for chocolate time and time again, knowing that it will soothe me and make me feel better, but here’s the important bit…..its temporary.
So is Bridget Jones right that Ben and Jerrys ice cream will solve dating nightmares, certainly not. Although a couple of spoonful’s can help with short term soothing. Bridget eventually realises she and she alone can take control of her happiness and shock horror she does this without being controlled by food.
The thoughts I would like to leave you all with today, is to focus on your happiness and if that includes having some Christmas indulgence…. Be it sweet mince pies and cream then do it, but do it consciously, be mindful of why it feels good. Enjoy the tastes, and eat slowly to maximise the enjoyment, perhaps practice some mindfulness while eating. Tips can be found here.
If it’s in a party environment focus on the fact that you can gain comfort from friends, family and being around those who care for you. Enjoy the music, the space, the moment, be present and focus on these ingredients that contribute in the long term to your wellbeing.
If you would like to find out more about the relationship between food and mood this link from Mind will help you to explore this and has everyday tips for making changes to how we can fuel our bodies with food to support our emotional wellbeing too
Be Wellbeing would like to wish all our readers, and clients a peaceful and relaxing Christmas, and watch this space for many exciting developments at Be in 2018.
The Be. Team