Using food to boost your mood
Discover how your diet affects your stress levels. Follow the Sandicliffe blog for more advice in support of Mental Health Awareness Week 2022.
May 12, 2022
Discover how your diet affects your stress levels and learn how you can use food to boost your mood.
Continuing our efforts to support Mental Health Awareness Week and boost the mood of our staff and customers, we’re exploring how diet can impact our stress levels. We know how hard it can seem to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. Especially when the convenience of ready-meals and takeaways call out to us at the end of a long day.
The American Society for Nutrition has found that “stress triggers our drive for comfort food, including excess sugar-sweetened beverages and sweets such as baked goods. At the same time, during times of stress, we tend to lower our intake of whole foods, fruits, and vegetables.” Then, eating unhealthy foods makes us even more susceptible to stress.
I’m sure we can all agree that emotional eating and comfort eating are far more regular occurrences when we are stressed. These unhealthy foods sit in our stomachs and make us feel bloated. This is because stress diverts blood flow away from your digestive system. If you are experiencing issues with stress, the Sandicliffe team are here to help.
Stress can affect our diet because it triggers a biological response in our bodies. When we’re stressed, our body triggers its “fight or flight” responses. This includes rapid heart rate, a rise in blood pressure, increased blood sugar and the release of adrenaline and cortisol, otherwise known as stress hormones.
If you are stressed for a long period of time and you don’t have time to recover, your blood sugar levels can fluctuate and your adrenal glands can become overworked. These symptoms can lead to even more stress. However, it is the issues with blood sugar that have the largest impact on our diet and cravings.
When our energy and mood are low, it becomes more likely that we will reach for a convenient, unhealthy snack. By balancing your diet with natural sugars and fruits you can keep your blood sugar at a manageable level and mitigate some of the physical conditions that are associated with being stressed out.
Vitamin C, which is found in fresh fruit and vegetables, is stored in the adrenal gland and can also help to eliminate some conditions of stress. Your magnesium levels also drop dramatically during times of stress. This can lead to other conditions like tiredness and anxiety. Eating leafy greens, nuts and seeds can boost magnesium and boost your mood.
The first easy change you can make is having a balanced breakfast every day. Avoiding sugary cereals and pastries can keep your blood sugar regulated and avoid any crashes later on. Also, don’t skip meals throughout the day, as this will make it difficult for you to maintain energy levels.
Having a wide range of colourful fruits and vegetables and eliminating highly refined sugars can help you improve your mood and energy levels. When you are stressed, your body also needs more protein to recover. This is because protein helps to slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream. Choosing lean meats and nuts ahead of processed meats as a source of protein is a great way to improve your diet.
You should also be aware that what you drink can impact your mood and stress levels. Too much caffeine can lead to a crash in energy levels, leaving you irritable and more susceptible to stress. Drinking an excessive amount of alcohol can also lead to imbalanced blood sugar levels and a dip in your mood.