Food and your mood can be so intimately linked. Have you perhaps settled down to read this with a warm cup of tea at your side? Maybe you have some celery to dip into homemade hummus as well or maybe you felt the need for a muffin to fortify jangled nerves?
Even if right now you are not employing mood to lift your spirits, you will probably have done it at some time. Have you ever thought to yourself, “I feel so down now, for once I’ll let myself eat a pizza and then have a tub of ice cream”? If you have thought anything like that, you are unconsciously embracing the idea that food can substantially alter mood.
Food can impact your feelings and, of course, there is a psychological element to this where childhood associations and so on come into play. On a physical level too, food can alter your biochemistry in such a way that your mood alters. Now a new study from Otago University (New Zealand) has shown that eating more of certain foods increases your chances of experiencing happiness.
In the study, students completed a food diary for three weeks. The diary included a section where at the end of each day subjects would rate their mood and how they were feeling, selecting from a list of nine positive and nine negative adjectives. From the outset, people with an eating disorder were excluded from the study.
Analysis of the data collected showed that there is a strong correlation between higher fruit and vegetable consumption and feeling a positive mood. Eating more fruit and vegetables led to people feeling happier, calmer and more energised.
It might be that happier people tend to eat more fruit and vegetables, but a further finding suggests that fruit and vegetables might be the cause of happiness. The results showed that eating fruit and vegetables predicted improvements in positive mood the next day.
The next question becomes how much fruit and vegetables do you need to boost your mood? According to this study, you need around seven servings a day, with a single serve being half a cup or enough to fill the palm of your hand.
Like most things then, the answer to your mood today is the life you lived yesterday. That chocolate bar might be appealing but it is a psychological Band-Aid. A tasty Band-Aid perhaps, but not a cure for your malaise.