So you’re on the diet and have immersed yourself in your brand new fitness regime! Now the challenge is how to continue with those New Year resolutions… According to experts, the third Monday of the New Year is when all best intentions for that new start go flying out of the window.
In an attempt to keep you smiling throughout Blue Monday and beyond, British Dietetic Association spokesperson, Priya Tew, gives her amazing tips on how food really can improve your mood!
The British Dietetic Association is the professional association for registered dietitians in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is the nation’s largest organisation of food and nutrition professionals.
“Our mood is affected by many things that we are unable to alter, but what we eat is one big variable we can take charge of. When you eat and what you eat has a big impact on how you feel and on your energy levels,” says Priya.
“Skipping meals leads to low blood sugar levels which can leave you feeling tired, grumpy and craving sugar. Planning regular meals and small snacks will avoid these danger points in your day. Choosing foods that have a lower glyacemic index will help fill you up and sustain your energy levels for longer as they your blood sugars stay stable. Try adding beans and lentils to dishes, choose ‘oaty’ dishes like porridge or muesli and add a low fat yoghurt to your lunch.
“Whole grain carbohydrates are not only lower in glyacemic index than the white versions but they increase the amount of tryptophan than enters the brain, resulting in more mood enhancing serotonin being produced,” she added. “Include wholegrain bread, pasta, oats, and wholegrain cereals at meals, try adding pearl barley to soups and bulgur wheat to salads.
“B vitamins play a vital role in energy release. Therefore eating more of these will help improve your energy levels, lifting your mood. 121 Females taking a thiamine supplement reported improved mood, a clearer head, increased energy levels and better cognitive function. Folate is another micronutrient that has been shown to be linked to mood through blood samples taken from 58 men. Eating more green vegetables, sunflower seeds, cashew nuts, almonds, strawberries, tomatoes and peppers will boost your thiamine and folate levels. Wholegrain cereals are also fortified with these nutrients.
“Iron is well known to be linked to fatigue and low energy. It’s lesser know that there is also a link to poor mood and concentration. Topping up your iron will boost that feel good factor. Include red meat, dried fruit, green vegetables and wholegrains in your diet.
“The Mediterranean diet contains plenty of fruit, vegetables nuts, fish, olive oil, cereals and some red wine. Eating these foods is associated with better mental health scores. So making sure you are meeting the 5 a day recommendation for fruit and veggies, go wholegrain with your cereals and sticking to healthy fats such as olive oil, oily fish and nuts really can work!
We would also add one of our own – don’t start off on something you are highly unlikely to manage to keep up. Be realistic – you are far more likely to stick to a diet or new exercise routine if it fits in with your life. Some of the fitness schedules we’ve seen in mags and papers this year are so incredibly time consuming that they are unlikely to be doable in the long term for the average busy person…