Can you eat your your way to happiness?

If you read my #BlogSquad post for www.meetothermums.com this month, you’ll know that a couple of weeks back I was having a rubbish day, week, moment…meh.

No drama to report. No epic catastrophes or anything, I was just feeling overwhelmed with the everyday things. The school run, cooking another dinner to be refused point blank, and generally the exhausting state of our sleep deprivation. It happens to us all from time to time, right?

Whether you’re having a bout of PMT, PND, PTSD, Depression, anxiety or just having a crappy day (again), sometimes, you need to cut yourself some slack and take all the advice you can get to get yourself out of a mental rut.

Open as ever, I was having a vent amongst some pretty wonderful friends when one of them asked if I’d tried some dietary solutions. I had to confess this was a totally alien concept to me, so I was all ears and couldn’t get home to google it all quick enough.

So, whilst the concept of exercising to feel good, dieting to feel a million dollars, and having a spa weekend to re-group sound amazing, they are also quite seemingly unattainable at times. Or, a whole lot of effort at least. But eating food? Yeah I can give that a run for it’s money!

So what my research has uncovered is that there seems to be something in this. A lot of it seems non groundbreaking; drink more water, eat less junk. But, specifically there are a few little gems it’s worth knowing and who knows, we could all be skipping through our days whistling a happy tune in no time.

B vitamins (Folic acid & B12) – Marmite, Walnuts, Dark green leafy vegetables, oily fish (Mackerel, salmon anchovies), sweet potato, seeds.

It is thought that a deficiency in B vitamins can lead to anxiety and depression so it’s worth stockpiling these foods and loading up. You may shudder at the thought of Marmite on toast, but I’m a lover so happy days – marmite on seeded toast for brekkie it is.

Walnuts in the jar

Tryptophan – Eggs, Turkey breast, Salmon, Cheese, Nuts, Avocado

Serotonin can be thought of as the chemical messenger for happiness and whilst you can boost it with meds if needed, these naturally occurring high protein foods might just give your serotonin production a little boost too.

eggs, food

Selenium – Brazil nuts, turkey breast, tuna

A naturally occurring element found in many foods that is an all round good egg. With anti-oxidatve properties it is a cancer fighting, blood flow and immune system boosting, superstar. There is thought this can help depression too, so popping a handful of brazil nuts on your breakfast might work wonders for your body and mind.

Iron – Red meats, green leaves, dried apricots, peas, dark chocolate, fortified cereals and pasta.

Iron deficiency can make you feel generally rubbish. Whilst you may not be officially anaemic, your iron levels may well be fluctuating throughout the month and could be the reason your energy levels are on the floor.

Spinach, chicken & pomegranate salad

Vitamin D – Sunshine, Egg yolks, beef liver, fatty fish

As if you needed an excuse to get out on a sunny day…there is a real link between sunshine and your mood due to the vitamin D your body creates in sunshine. Seasonal affective disorder is real, and affects all of us so you can top up by eating the above foods, or even consider a vitamin D supplement.

blue, clouds, cloudy

Anti-oxidants; blueberries, green tea, kale, pomegranate

You are what you eat so try getting as many of these super food dudes in you as possible. Their super powers can’t fail but have a positive effect on your body, so that includes your mind too right?

beverage, cup, drink

Vitamin C; oranges, tomatoes, red peppers, broccoli, strawberries

You knew it was good for fighting colds, BUT did you know it’s good for fighting depression too?  There’s loads of reasons to try and tuck into your five fruit and veg a day (or more) and having a happy mind is just one of them.

Orange Fruit

Omega-3 – Avocado, oily fish

Brain food at it’s best, omega-3 plays a part in the brains nerve connections so it’s a no-brainer to squeeze as much in your diet as possible to keep that brain firing on all cylinders.

The bad guys

I don’t need to tell you that bingeing on booze, processed food, sugar and caffeine isn’t the answer. I’m just as guilty as the rest of us as relying on these pick me ups throughout the day and evening. BUT if you are feeling rubbish and really want to get yourself back to feeling tip top, you know that deep down these instant highs come followed by a big crash. I need to try harder to not use these props to feel better. One thing I try my best to do is save the booze for the weekend (not always easy after a tough day midweek!) and drink green tea instead of coffee as often as possible. Switch a chinese and its Monosodium glutamate migraine with a chicken kebab, and perhaps think twice about half a bottle of white wine to wash it down with.

I’ve made a change to my shopping list, and my go to snacks – nuts instead of crisps and dark chocolate instead of celebrations… will I see a difference? I’m looking forward to finding out.

x MMT

Rhyming with Wine
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