30 Apr Emotional health starts with nutrition

Emotional health starts with healthy nutrition. What are good mood foods, and what should we look for when making healthy food choices?

I was happily surprised to see a poster heralding “Good mood foods” at one particular outlet in my local shopping centre food court recently. I made a beeline for the counter and there I discovered a variety of salads, all of which quickly passed the basic test: a combination of vegetable and salad ingredients combined with protein foods such as chicken, egg, and chickpeas.

So why did these foods pass the test? What test? And why are they a step in the right direction towards healthier moods?

The link between nutrition and emotional wellbeing continues to gain mainstream attention. And it’s about time: in first world countries like Australia, rates of depression and other mood disorders are sky high, and overweight, unhealthy people are everywhere.

In my practice I see tired, grumpy, sad, or emotionally overloaded people who also happen to be trying to resolve tired, grumpy, sad, or emotionally dysfunctional relationships or personal lives.

A recent article in The Lancet Psychiatry, (“Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry” Lancet Psychiatry 2015; 2: 271–74) summarises that there is “emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a crucial factor in the high incidence of mental disorders”. It also suggests that diet and nutrition are “central determinants of both physical and mental health.”

If your personal, relationship, or marriage health is troubled, it makes sense to start with nutrition. When we consume nutritionally poor food, we don’t supply the brain with the raw materials it needs to function at its best.

A nutritionally starved brain feels foggy, restless, irritable, flat, or volatile. It usually feels hungry too, prompting us to make poor food choices, which perpetuate the cycle. We become both overfed and undernourished – the appalling current state of many in the developed world.

Back to those salads in the food court: they passed the test because they combined nutrient and fibre-rich vegetables with protein sources (meat, eggs, legumes), packing a vitamin, mineral, and amino acid punch that fried chicken, chips, pizza, or hamburgers will simply never do.

Good quality protein foods are essential for great moods, because they provide the raw materials the brain needs for optimal functioning. They also help with maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, (as do fibre rich, whole grain carbohydrates) which we need to feel emotionally balanced and calm.

Nest time you’re choosing take away lunch, walk past the junk and treat your brain to a nutrient rich meal full of vegetables, salads, and high quality protein. Or contact me and let’s get you eating for optimal emotional health to resolve your own emotional challenges and needs. You’ll be fuelling your own healthy happy brain.