How food affects your mood

21 March 2018

How food affects your mood

Growing up, we are all shown food pyramids in school, and told what we should eat more of and what we should stay away from. But telling a kid not to eat chocolate only makes them want it more, and I remember sitting in classes wondering why chocolate was so bad — we know sugar is bad, but what does it really do?

In high school, one of my best friends was a fitness maniac who consistently had healthy snacks for lunch — and I was eating garlic bread and chocolate for lunch every day. Even though it was so satisfying at the time, I noticed that whenever I ate an excessive amount of sugar, I would feel tired and drowsy.

Towards the end of high school, although I changed my diet, I never really researched the science behind what food really does to us, or in this case, how unhealthy food impacts us.

I began to question the relationship between mind and body — I thought there has to be a connection between what we eat and what it does to the brain, seeing as what I ate almost always determined how I would feel.

“The mind and the body are not separate; what affects one, affects the other.” — Anonymous

When I took a closer look at the science behind why I felt the switch in my moods after eating certain foods, I realised it was not as complicated as it seemed. Which brings me to this Ted Ed video with Mia Nacamulli, which I believe sums it up perfectly.

Through this journey of understanding the healthy benefits behind certain foods, I began to understand what people meant when they said “fuel your body with the right foods”. I realised what it meant to listen to your body and understand the effects sugar had, not only on your physical body, but mentally also.

Basically, foods that have omega 3 fatty acids are more beneficial to the brain than foods that are high in trans fats and saturated fats, because the latter two are more likely to negatively affect cognition. So, in less complicated terms, eating nuts is a better choice than eating chocolate.

Seeing as folic acid is needed for adequate brain function, having folate deficiency can lead to neurological disorders such as depression and cognitive impairment. Folic acid can be found in spinach, broccoli, and various vegetables and fruits.

After applying my reearch to my daily habits, not only did it create a more productive day for me, but I had more control over my mood.

But I am still a believer in soul food, which are your sugars and foods that will spike your endorphins just enough to give you a little high. The occasional chocolate is good for morale. Just as it is important to be a healthy-eater, from time to time your body will ask for certain foods — it is important to treat your body with respect and create a balanced diet.