Wedding Wellbeing: Mindful Eating Food and Mood

As I get older (hark at me!) I am becoming more and more aware of the food I put into my body and the impact it has.  It has also reminded me of how much I take my body and health for granted, perhaps something I have become acutely aware of since supporting and losing Dear friends and relatives to cancer.

Marriage is one of the most EPIC life events and it naturally encourages new beginnings, for some complete lifestyle changes. So, if you want to start your marriage with your best foot forward, knowing what foods your body needs to support your overall wellbeing and mood, this is a great place to start!

I have touched upon how our relationship with food groups can affect everything, from our skin and hair to our entire brain function – (oh yes it does). This is not new news, we used to practice this right back through to medieval times, where we would use food to support cognitive function,  to decrease mood swings,  and promote happiness.  So how have we become so disconnected?

delicious plate of salmon and vegetables

Photo by Casey Lee on Unsplash

It’s no coincidence that in a recent study, people who eat fast food more than three times a week scored more likely to experience mental distress and why we are seeing increases in mental ill-health in younger generations.

Don’t get me wrong I love to indulge. But as with everything there is balance and if we better understand how our food affects our mood, because invariably, when we are time poor, or when we are feeling stressed or under pressure we comfort eat, we eat for convenience, or skip meals all together  – it’s during these moments we should be more mindful. If we have better understanding of food and is magical healing properties, we can give ourselves a boost and better look after ourselves and each other!

To help you, I called upon some help from nutrition and health experts to share some tips!

 

Blood Sugar

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Louise Mercieca author of How Food Shapes Your Child and founder of the Health Kick says:

“There are three main connections with the food we eat and our mood; the blood sugar connection, our gut microbiome and the neurological connection. Let’s look at blood sugar first;

If your blood sugar drops you might feel tired, anxious, feel nervous or irritable. Continuing low levels can also lead to; sleepiness, confusion and sweating.

Fluctuating blood sugar levels tend to create a cycle that encourages us to eat ‘the wrong foods’, which results in fluctuating moods and an increased risk of metabolic disorders. (Nu Bride: Metabolism is the chemical process your body uses to transform the food you eat into the fuel that keeps you alive –   and metabollic disorders are generally genetic and occur when you have abnormal chemical reactions in your body that disrupt this process. A metabollic disorder can include diabetes for example)

There are certain areas of your brain which are influenced by pleasure and reward, the more you feed these, the more you ‘numb’ the receptors meaning you even need more to get the same hit. As such, sugar becomes more addictive yet you feel less reward. Often when people comfort eat (Nu Bride: ME!) they opt for something high in sugar and fat. This may produce a short hit of ‘feel good chemicals’ but longer term will make you feel worse. Sugar often features in emotional eating – Emotional eating is when people use food as a way to deal with feelings instead of to satisfy hunger.

It is healthiest for the mind and body to have stable blood sugar levels. Eating high fibre and ‘complex’ carbs (whole foods) over any refined carbs (white and processed foods) will help you here”

To help with concentration

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Sought-after nutritionist Will Hawkins from the Push Doctor Says:

“For better concentration throughout the day there are some key things you should be doing.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and you shouldn’t skip it. You should try to avoid sugary cereals as this will only cause you to crash later in the day.

Eating porridge oats or wholegrain muesli are excellent ways of allowing your blood sugars to increase steadily allowing you to stay focused for longer.

Staying hydrated is important, but don’t be tempted by the sugary fruit juices or soft drinks as they’ll also cause spikes in your blood sugars and cause an energy crash later in the day. If you’re looking for an alternative to water, try coconut water as it also has a high level of electrolytes.”

 

Healthy Gut, Healthy Mind

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Louise says: “Your gut creates, manufactures and enables neurotransmitters from the foods you eat. (These are chemical messengers which influence; mood, sleep, stress, anxiety, hunger, pleasure etc”

Nutritionist Will Hawkins from the Push Doctor  continues;

“Both prebiotics and probiotics help support a healthy gut. With a healthy gut, comes a better cognitive performance. The reason for this is because hormones are created in the gut, and hormones have a direct impact on how we think and how we’re feeling. Probiotics can found in leafy green vegetables, mushrooms, dairy products and fermented foods. (Nu Bride: I know what you’re thinking re: fermented foods –  stay with us! )

Omega-3 fatty acids are widely believed to have a significant effect on brain health. They’ve been linked to slower mental decline and improved long and short-term memory. Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are naturally high in omega 3, (fresh not tinned!), but this may not be practical smelling like fish on your wedding day.” (Nu Bride: LOL! No, but something in the morning or within your diet before and afterwards is always a possibility)

Mood Boosters

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Louise explains:

“To boost mood, try to eat foods that help the body to produce dopamine – (Nu Bride: Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that controls emotions – it also has a very important role in motivation and the part of the brain that experiences pleasure!

The the amino acid Tyrosine will act as a precursor in a biosynthetic pathway to produce dopamine. Tyrosine can be found in eggs, dairy, lean meats, seeds, whole grains, fish, cottage cheese, seaweed (spirulina), soy protein”

Nu Bride – we need to talk about  serotonin . Serotonin is brain chemical (neurotransmitter) often referred to as the happy chemical and is a huge contribute to positive wellbeing and happiness. Low serotonin levels have been linked to depression. Serotonin also helps regulate our sleep cycles and cognitive functions. It’s a big one! 

Louise goes on: “Help the body to produce more serotonin. Tryptophan is the amino acid acting as the precursor in the biosynthetic pathway. Tryptophan is in cottage cheese, milk, red meat (lean), fish, chicken, chickpeas, bananas, almonds, sunflower seeds, spirulina, peanuts.

As a large percentage of serotonin is manufactured in the gut a healthy gut microbiome is crucial for this neurotransmitter.”

Don’t forget your vitamins

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Will says:

“B-vitamins are important for the production of a range of neurotransmitters. Which act as the brains chemical messengers, sending messages from the brain to the areas of the body such as the muscles, and then back again to the brain, feeding back useful information on your bodies performance. Studies have shown people who have diets lacking in B-vitamins are subject to decreased mood, bad concentration and poor memory.

B vitamins are also found in green vegetables but also starchy vegetables, pasta, rice, and legumes (peas, chikpeas, lentels etc).”

Enjoy these tips so some more mindful eating!

Header image: Brooke Lark on Unsplash 

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