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How Food Affects Your Mood

February 23rd, 2015 | by Events Staff
How Food Affects Your Mood

An unhealthy diet high in sugar and fat may be linked to poor mental health. When it comes to food and mood, you are what you eat.

Stress causes your body to crave sugar as quick fuel for a surge of energy. Also long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression. It is also believed that a sugar high diet can make children hyperactive. Most parents would swear to it. But numerous studies have failed to find the link between sugar and hyperactivity. So is the food-mood link a myth?

As I mentioned, long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet is a risk factor for depression, according to findings that looked at diet and depression in 3,663 people. What constituted an unhealthy diet, for purposes of the study, was one that was high in sugar and processed foods.

One of the symptoms used to diagnose depression is change in appetite, so there certainly could be a link between diet and depression.

When people crave foods, they don’t reach for carrot sticks. Instead they crave sugar or fats. This is because these types of foods trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain that addictive drugs do. Research also hints at a link between sugar and addictive eating. For instance, a 2012 study found that of 81 obese people seeking treatment for binge eating, 57 percent met the criteria for food addiction. Foods that people were addicted to were high in fat and high in sugar. Stress causes your body to seek sugar as quick fuel for a surge of energy. That may be why many people crave sugar when they are stressed. One of the best ways to reduce stress is to exercise. It releases endorphins and that in turn can reduce stress.

Another interesting fact is that diabetes is more common in people with mental health disorders like depression. There are some older studies that suggest a link between sugar metabolism and schizophrenia.

A 2014 study of more than 4,000 students in New Zealand found that a high-quality diet was associated with better mental health and a low-quality diet was associated with poor mental health. The findings were published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Eating foods high in sugar to escape a bad mood is called emotional eating. To combat this try to learn to eat slowly, without distraction, and to savor the experience of healthy food. A good healthy diet can really help put you in a good mood. I feel guilty and unhappy when I have overeaten or eaten food high in fat or sugar. Do you?

Basically the science of food’s affect on mood is based on the fact that dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to a change in your mindset and behavior.

Yes Christmas is coming and we like to ‘enjoy’ ourselves. But if you are feeling low or depressed, think about what you are putting into your body, whether it’s food or alcohol. Perhaps try a detox after Christmas… give up sugar and see how that changes your mindset. You have nothing to lose!


So my top tips for this week are:

  • Try eating a low fat diet and see if it improves your mood and mindset.
  • Give up sugar, again to see how that makes you feel
  • Eat little and often, around 6 small meals a day containing a protein and a carbohydrate source
  • Have a detox after Christmas, keep a diary and see how it affects your mood.
  • Try to exercise, even just a brisk walk. This will improve your mood.


For more information on healthy eating and exercise contact me at

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