Can food really have an impact on your mood?
Well, lets just think about that for a moment…..
If I eat sugar, I instantly feel more energetic (short term). My morning coffee brings a bit of a buzz (again, short term, unfortunately that wears off a little quickly). Also if I eat foods containing certain numbers, I lie awake half the night and have weird dreams..… TMI
What if there were common foods that were impacting us daily and we didn’t even know?
What if we were literally heightening anxiety or making depression even deeper with every bite? Would it be worth exploring, since we add these foods to our body every day, several times a day? Just because we can not see the immediate impact, why do we overlook it? We would pay attention if we had a skin reaction to a new cream, yet we are quick to ignore the seemingly subtle, internal factors.
We know that there is no magic pill for mental health, even though many have tried. Fact is, that in some mild to moderate cases, medication can cause more severe side effects than the initial issue. This is not to say that medication is not warranted, not at all. Medication can simply be part of the puzzle and the puzzle is complicated.
It is no surprise that all of Victoria is walking through the sludge right now. So many of our senses are heightened. Our days feel heavy, we can muster some kindness towards others but when we turn to ourselves, it feels harder. It is likely at some stage during one of the lockdowns, that you have turned to food or drinks as a comfort. You know those moments, you stand in front of the pantry/fridge/freezer looking for something. We all know that nothing good is going to come from it, it is a search and rescue mission. Sometimes this happens several times a day. You are not hungry, you are looking for a dopamine hit!
Food does bring us a certain sense of comfort, our dopamine receptors send a chemical reaction through the body that is like a warm hug….. but what if those foods were actually making everything worse. Like a drug user looking for their next hit but never able to reach it. Food is like a drug and if sugar, for example is far more addictive than cocaine, we are all “drug” users.
Just to be clear, food does not cause anxiety or depression, but it certainly has the potential to make it a whole lot worse.
Studies show that those who consume more refined products (bread, noodles, biscuits, pies, muffins, cakes and donuts for example) are more likely to suffer with mental health imbalance.
Part of this discovery is focused on malnutrition and partly on low level intolerances and reactions. Sadly gluten is likely to play the biggest role here.
It is no secret that when we talk about food choices in clinic, I am going to try to fill you up on the good stuff so that there is less room for the crap. I am by no means speaking from a place of judgement however. It is well known that I do love a good gluten free donut every so often and there are times that I will go out for dinner and throw caution to the wind. (Hello bao bun among other Vietnamese deliciousness!) Our focus has to be 90% for the body, 10% for the soul. So the aim is not to make you miserable by cutting out all of your comfort food, just fuelling the body so that you no longer crave it!
The adolescent brain is possibly the most impressionable and vulnerable out of all. There is a complicated process that involves food choices and impulse control. Partner this with more independence and choices and suddenly you have a teen who you believe to have a relatively healthy diet, but the truth is far from this. They become even more moody, impulsive and tend to lash out even more- if that is possible.
I noticed this in my own household recently. As you can imagine, we have a healthy balance in our home. Sometimes we will eat the dodgy food, but predominantly we tend to eat as well as we possibly can. Just recently I have noticed how my teen will always slide towards poorer food choices if given the opportunity, we have had to work at tightening this up again.
If it would be helpful for you, I can outline the most important points for adults and teens alike. Simply let me know if this would help.