The effects of what we eat and drink on our physical health are well known, but evidence suggests that what we eat and drink also affects our mood and the way we feel.
Here are seven things you should consider about what you eat and drink to help improve your mood.
1. Emotional eating
Many of us will turn to food for comfort or stress relief when things go wrong. When this happens, we are unlikely to be reaching for the fruit and veg. Instead, we will want junk food, sweets, and ice cream.
Unfortunately, emotional eating will not fix the problem. Instead, emotional eating will usually make you feel worse. This is because the problem won’t have gone away, and now you’ll feel guilty about what you have eaten. This can lead to a vicious circle.
Look out for signs you might be comfort eating. Acknowledge how you feel and that this is driving you to eat. Try to do something else to distract yourself, like reading, walking, or watching TV.
Stopping comfort eating can be difficult. But also remember, you should not feel guilty about treating yourself and eating something as long as you have a balanced diet.
2. Don’t miss meals
If your blood sugar drops, you will feel tired, irritable and have a low mood. Being hungry obviously makes you cranky as well.
Try not to skip meals and choose foods that release energy slowly. This will help to keep your sugar levels steady.
3. Eat a variety
Ideally, we should aim to eat a healthy balanced diet. One trick is to eat a “rainbow of food” with plenty of fruit and veg. Doing this will ensure you have a wide variety of food types.
Keep an eye on your calories, and minimise foods high in sugar, fat and salt. Eating good food will lead to good feelings outwardly.
4. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol may seem tempting when we’re stressed or tired. However, it can cause more problems than it solves, especially in the long term.
Alcohol complicates your sleep patterns and affects how anxious and depressed you feel. Alcohol can worsens your mood, so drinking less can help us feel better.
5. Be careful of caffeine
Caffeine is a stimulant. It will give you a quick burst of energy but then may make you feel anxious and in a low mood. Caffeine will also disturb your sleep (especially if you have it before bed). If you drink a lot of caffeine, withdrawal can also affect your mood if you stop suddenly.
Try having less caffeine or switching to decaffeinated versions of tea, coffee or cola. Or consider avoiding it altogether – you might feel noticeably better quite quickly.
6. Stay hydrated
When you have not drunk enough water, you will struggle to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated (which is no fun). Thirst can also be misinterpreted as hunger. If you have a drink, you might stop feeling hungry.
Make sure you drink between 6–8 glasses of fluid a day. It does not have to be water, but it is the cheapest and healthiest option. Other drinks like tea, coffee, juices or smoothies all count, but be aware that these all contain caffeine or sugar.
7. Stop smoking
One of the reasons smokers smoke is because they say that smoking seems to relieve stress and anxiety.
This is a common belief. But smoking actually increases anxiety and tension.
Evidence shows that when people stop smoking anxiety, depression and stress levels are lower.
Stopping smoking is one of the best things you can do for your body and your wellbeing. You’ll breathe better, feel better and save money.
Your body and mind
Whatever you choose to do, remember what’s good for your body is good for your mind.
If you think you might need some support to live a healthier lifestyle then consider contacting one of our Healthy Lifestyles Advisors.
They can help you for free with one to one support – if you want to eat better, exercise more, lose weight or stop smoking.
Want to know more about improving how you feel?
We have lots more tips and information to share with you that can help improve how you feel.
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This is your time to feel healthier and happier – join the year of wellbeing today.