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Wholesome FOODS for Awesome MOODS!

Written by Suzanne. T | Dietician, PsychPhys™

Did you know that your food choices and eating habits have a great impact on how you feel and your level of concentration? A healthy, balanced diet and other positive lifestyle habits such as regular exercise, good quality sleep and meaningful social connection are the foundations for better mental health. 

Food and Mood: A Complex Two-Way Relationship

The relationship between food and mood is a two-way street. Research indicates that your food preferences and eating habits may not only affect your mood, but your mood may also influence the foods that you choose to consume.

Individuals with poor diet quality, low fruit and vegetable consumption and high consumption of ultra-processed foods and beverages are at a higher risk of developing low mood and anxiety. On the other hand, people experiencing a consistently negative mood are more likely to fall into the trap of emotional eating and consuming empty-calories foods to provide comfort. For some people, such effects can often be followed by guilt and being trapped in the emotional eating cycle.

Whole Food for an Awesome Mood!

Consuming a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, lean meat, legumes, wholegrains, oily fish, nuts, and seeds is associated with better stress management, concentration and improved mental health. 

Here are a few dietary tips to help maintain a consistently positive mood:

Consume Diverse Range of Colourful Plant Foods

Plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds are good sources of fibre. A high fibre diet supports a healthy gut, keeps a good balance of healthy microbes, and ultimately promotes good mood (Gut-Brain Axis).

Choose the Right Type of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates (glucose) are the main source of energy for the brain. Severely restricted carbohydrates intake and poor management of blood glucose can lead to tiredness, anxiety and negative moods.

It is important to include slow-release carbohydrates in every meal for a sustained energy release and promoting good mood. These include: 

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Wholegrains
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Milk and yogurt
  • Beans and Lentils

Get the Right Type of Fat – Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Omega-3 is found in fatty fish such as salmon, blue mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds. Researches indicates that Omega-3 may help protect against depression through its anti-inflammatory properties. It is recommended to consume at least 2 serves of fatty fish each week.

Consume Protein Rich Foods

Protein food such as lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and legumes contain amino acid (Tryptophan) that helps increase the production of Serotonin (happy hormone) in the brain. Serotonin acts as a mood regulator, helps you feel more focused, calm and emotionally stable. Aim to consume 2 – 3 serves of protein food daily.

Drink Plenty of Water

Aim to drink 8 cups of water a day to prevent dehydration, lethargy, poor concentration and low moods.

Break the Cycle of Emotional Eating: Mindful Eating

Mindful eating is a technique that uses mindfulness to help you recognise and cope with your emotional and physical sensations. It helps people rebuild positive relationship with food and makes eating less restrictive and judgemental. Research has proven that mindful eating supports greater psychological wellbeing, increased pleasure when eating, and body satisfaction.

Tips to Practice Mindful Eating:


  • Eat without distractions. 

Enjoy your meal on the dining table with family. Remove distractions such as TV, iPads, and laptops to avoid overeating.

  • Engage all senses. 

Pay attention to the smell, colour, taste, texture and sounds of the food you consume. Eating slowly helps to engage these senses.

  • Eat slowly to avoid overeating. 

Practice eating slowly to allow your body to recognise your satiety level.

  • Serve meals on smaller plates.

A standard food portion will look small on a larger plate. Serve your meal on a smaller plate to avoid overeating.

  • Do not skip meals.

Skipping meals increases the risk of strong hunger, which can easily lead to unhealthy food choices. Having a regular meal pattern and planning your meal ahead reduce these risks


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