Good Mood Foods

Over the years I have worked with plenty of clients with mental health issues like anxiety and depression and in my experience, food is a vital part of the jigsaw for good mental health, and there is a bank of what I like to call ‘good mood foods’ to help you.

Think about it – if you binge on too much sugar, excessive amounts of coffee and top it all off with a bit too much booze, not only does your physical health suffer, but you tend to feel low, fed up and perhaps anxious and stressed too.

Foods that have been linked with good mental health include oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines (rich on omega 3 fats), nuts and seeds (especially almonds and walnuts), eggs and, of course, fruit and vegetables.

Foods containing the serotonin pre-cursor tryptophan seem to support improved mood. Try adding avocado, turkey or chicken, beans and lentils, bananas, natural yogurt or cottage cheese into your diet for a tryptophan boost.

Some people find that a little tryptophan-rich snack about an hour and a half before bedtime can help sleep too. Try some of these ideas:

  • 2 oatcakes with almond nut butter
  • natural yoghurt with low sugar granola (try making your own, or Lizi’s is a good one that is available in most supermarkets)
  • a kiwi
  • a small banana

If you feel stressed or anxious, cut back on tea and coffee as caffeine can trigger an adrenalin kick and contribute to your agitation. Give green tea a go instead – it contains l-tyrosine, which has been shown to have a relaxing effect.

Here in Northern Ireland we don’t get anywhere near enough sunshine to provide sufficient vitamin D levels, and there is plenty of evidence to show that the further north we live, the lower our vitamin D levels and the higher the rate of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

Over the years the evidence for taking vitamin D has been gaining pace and I have found that supplementing the diet with around 5000iu vitamin D between May and October can make a big difference to mood, immunity and winter wellbeing.

Don’t hibernate. Instead, get outside every day and make the most of our great outdoors, even if it is raining!

Check out headspace or Mindfulness Belfast for help and ideas.