Eating right for a happy mind


1st Jan 2015 Wellbeing

Eating right for a happy mind

Whilst eating healthily and getting exercise is important in terms of maintaining physical health, it is also vital in helping you keep a happy mind. Get your food balance right with these tips.

Although it is not possible to cure yourself through eating the right foods, those struggling with depression or any other mental health issues may find it beneficial to eat certain foods. Here are some of the ways that you can change your diet for a lighter mood.

Eat lots of carbohydrates

This isn’t always the right way to go for everyone, as some people find that they end up overloading on carbs when they hit a low point, but eating plenty of carbohydrates when you are feeling sad can be a way to lighten your mood. Carbohydrates raise the amount of dopamine in your system, and dopamine is the body’s ‘happy’ chemical.

With raised dopamine you will find that you immediately start to feel a little happier. If you want to feel longer term benefits, you can try to balance slightly less carbohydrates with protein, so that you don’t get an insulin rush followed by a blood sugar crash later on.

Eat light in the evening

Most people will eat light throughout the day and gorge on their main meal at night. This may actually be a mistake for those trying to eat for a better mood, as a heavy meal a few hours before bed can make it more difficult for you to get a good night’s sleep; this will inevitably effect your mental health, especially if lack of sleep is a recurring problem.

Try to stick to the rule that your biggest meal of the day should be at breakfast time and your meals should get smaller as the day progresses. If this isn’t suitable for you, you could try eating six very small meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones, so your stomach is never overly full.

Eat more fish

Although there can be concerns about mercury found in some fish, experts agree that Omega-3 fatty acids are excellent in lifting depression as well as boosting brain power. You can find Omega-3 in wild salmon, shrimp and haddock without having to worry about the high levels of mercury which have been found in fish such as tuna.

A study has shown that eating fish high in Omega-3 is associated with lower levels of depression and even suicide, so even if you don't like the taste or texture of fish, you should still consider taking an Omega-3 supplement.

Eat lean meat

If you are a vegetarian then you can get iron from green vegetables, such as spinach, beans and other pulses. However, the best way to get iron into your diet is through lean meat and poultry.

Try to eat a little lean meat every day if you are regularly tired and irritable. Moods such as fatigue and general listlessness are both caused by an iron deficiency, which can be assuaged simply by eating chicken or turkey.