Spring is in the air, and many of us are focused on improving our bodies for summer, but have you considered the impact of what you eat (or don’t eat) on your mind?
I realise the irony of someone of my rotund proportions writing a blog about ‘eating yourself happy’, but my love of food (and lots of it) aside, over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of the difference that balanced nutrition makes to my moods and my overall sense of happiness, or emotional well-being.
Some of the things I do:
- Drink plenty of water: I feel I can concentrate better and am definitely in a better mood when I’m properly hydrated
- Eat bananas when I need a sweet, healthy pick-me up: Full of potassium, these are generally regarded as a healthy, nutritious snack.
- Eat nuts and seeds when I need a tasty energy boost: These are full of healthy fats.
- Use plenty of olive oil in cooking and seasoning: I’m Italian, so this one is a given, but olive oil is also a really healthy fat.
- Eat plenty of avocados: Tasty, filling, and versatile – and full of healthy fats.
- Hardly ever consume caffeine: Although, as an Italian, I love an espresso in the morning, I was never a big coffee drinker. When I was diagnosed with severe reflux last year, I weaned myself off that one cup a day, too, and now only rarely have a coffee if I’m very tired and need to drive anywhere (and because I am not used to caffeine, it really does work on those rare occasions!). The rest of the time, I drink water, and a multitude of delicious fruit & herbal teas, as well as flavoured Rooibos tea.
- Eat plenty of ‘leafy green’ vegetables, especially spinach, which I absolutely adore! I add spinach leaves to salads, to risotto, and to all sorts of tasty dishes. And I love spinach on its own, with a drizzle of olive oil, or if I give in to a less healthy temptation, I have ‘creamed spinach’, adding a splash of double cream to blanched and squeezed (to remove all the water) spinach leaves.
The mental health charity Mind have some great advice about nutrition.
From time to time, I also take vitamin supplements (and have recently started giving my youngest daughter multi-vitamins, as she is studying hard towards her A-levels and is feeling very tired most of the time). There is some research(1, 2) to suggest that, aside from potential physical health benefits of supplementing our diets with vitamins, there are benefits in terms of mood enhancement.
A healthy, balanced diet is key to ensuring adequate vitamin and mineral intake and combined with regular exercise, is essential to overall health and wellbeing”. Says Thomas Siebel, Managing Director at VÖOST Effervescent Vitamin Company.
“There are also specific vitamins and minerals which have been shown to help reduce tiredness and fatigue” he adds. “In particular, these include vitamin B, vitamin C and Iron.”
Vitamin B, Vitamin C and Iron rich food such as leafy greens, contribute to normal energy yielding metabolism i.e. they help to unlock energy from food and so not getting enough of these vitamins in your diet can contribute to feelings of lethargy”.
So, don’t just think about the ‘body beautiful’, which can often result in unhealthy ‘crash diets’ before summer, potentially depriving you of essential nutrients. Think, instead, of your beautiful mind, and how you can support it from within, by eating nutritionally rich and balanced foods and drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
Disclaimer & Disclosure:
I am not medically qualified and, although I have endeavoured to research and link to scientific research to back the information provided in this blog post, it is still mostly based on my personal experiences. Please seek medical advice before making any changes to your nutrition or taking any supplements.
I have quoted the MD of a commercial nutritional supplement company in this blog; I was not paid for the mention, nor did I receive any other benefit for doing so. There are plenty of other vitamin & mineral supplement suppliers. I received a press release which contained the quote, and found it to be relevant to the article.