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How can food help our mood - what we consume affects how we feel.

What makes us feel good?

What gives us an Instant HIT, boosts energy, relieves stress and anxiety, helps us wind down?

Cigarettes, Joints, Chocolate, Coffee, Tea, Alcohol, Antidepressants, Ecstasy, Coke.

Then what happens?

Nasty aftermath, the come down, dependency, higher levels of anxiety, addiction, yoyo moods swings.  Usually a night on the drink means you'll feel irritable, moody and anxious tomorrow

Winter Blues?

SAD, which stands for Seasonal Affective Disorder, isn’t just a case of the winter blues. It is a form of major depression and can be seriously debilitating, causing symptoms such as chronic low mood, excessive sleeping, carbohydrate cravings, irritability, poor concentration, low libido and lethargy. SAD occurs most typically throughout the winter months and around 80% of sufferers are women, mostly those in their early adulthood.

Serotonin is often called the happy chemical, because it contributes to wellbeing and happiness. Exposure to sunshine has an impact on the binding-capacity of serotonin to receptor sites in the brain, which essentially allows serotonin to work its magic, leading to feelings of contentment and happiness.

Get your body clock in check

Expose your face to daylight first thing in the morning, boosting vitamin D.

Scientists have found a strong link between vitamin D3 levels and depression.

Vitamin D3 helps to convert the amino acid, tryptophan, into serotonin.

Most people in Scotland should supplement vitamin D

Avoid electronic screens at night and try relaxing activities such as yoga or reading to encourage melatonin production.

Blood Sugar

Eating foods that are high in sugar and simple carbohydrates leads to rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, which can have a significant impact on the brain and its neurotransmitters. Typical symptoms of imbalanced blood sugar levels are low mood, anxiety, brain fog and fatigue.

Important Vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy and happy

B Vitamins - Deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression

Selenium - Can reduce symptoms of depression, irritability, anxiety &  tiredness

Tryptophan - Helps to produce healthy sleep and a stable mood (melatonin & serotonin)

Omega 3 fats - Low levels linked to depression.  Could smooth out mood swings

TOP TIPS For mental health and well being

Add wholegrains to your diet to increase B Vitamins such as - Brown rice, pasta and bread and oats, awesome oats are your best friend!

Add more green leafy vegetables to your diet to increase B vitamins

Eat more foods containing tryptophan such as beans, bananas, tofu & oats

Eat more Omega 3 rich foods such as flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts and soy beans

Increase selenium intake from: brazil nuts, wholegrain rice, oats, sunflower seeds, baked beans, mushrooms, spinach, lentils, cashew and bananas. .

Eat more nuts and seeds - raw and unsalted are best. Get more goodness out of them by grinding them and sprinkling on cereal, soups or salads.

Love lentils - they are a complex carb so help your brain release serotonin to help you feel calm and happy.  They also help stabilise your blood sugar levels

Eat awesome oats every day - Oats contain selenium which helps to boost your mood.  Because they slowly release energy into the bloodstream, both your blood sugar levels and your mood remain stable.

Increase nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, herbs, wholegrains, nuts and seeds

Good News :) Dark chocolate boosts your mood, be aware though, its best eaten after meals for dessert.  Eating sweet desserts after meal times slows down the release of sugars. A small square of dark chocolate causes the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels

Eat complex carbohydrates that contain ample amounts of fibre, such as brown rice, starchy vegetables like sweet potato, butternut squash and beets, combine with protein-rich foods with every meal and snack.

Reduce your intake of fried foods, ‘ready made’ processed foods and other sources of high fat, salt and sugar hidden in meals.

Balance sugar levels - avoid any refined sugars such as - biscuits, cakes, sweets, syrups, sweetened yoghurts, ‘fruit juice’ - this is key to avoiding sugar imbalances.  Try some lemons or raspberries in sparkling water for a refreshing & mood boosting drink.

Reduce your consumption of ‘quick fix’ stimulants, they will be more harmful in the long term such as - alcohol, cigarettes, coffee and coke.

Gat bananas about bananas.  Bananas contain the amino acid tryptophan as well as vitamins A, B6 and C, fibre, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrate..

Get Active

People are less likely to become depressed with regular physical activity. It is well established that exercise can stimulate the release of endorphins such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine - all of which regulate mood and prevent symptoms of depression.

Eat in Season

When fruits or vegetables are in season, they are ripe and ready to eat and will be their most juicy, flavoursome and delicious! Not only is it at its most delicious, eating seasonally is more affordable as the food is more abundant. Local seasonal fruits and vegetables can be healthier because they don’t have to travel far so retain most of their super powers. And we help to save the planet! It’s greener for our environment and often does not need to be coated with harmful chemicals or preservatives to make it look good for longer. Plant based food that doesn't cost the earth :) makes you feel good :)

Breakfast:

Beans on wholemeal toast

A smoothie made with Oat, almond, coconut or soya milk or yoghurt with berries, banana & seeds

Breakfast bowl of oats, seeds and fruit topped with yoghurt.

Morning snacks:

A small apple, pear or peach, plus some brazil nuts or a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds

A slice of wholemeal bread with peanut or almond butter

Hummus with oatcakes

Lunch:

Quinoa or wholegrain rice salad with plenty of greens and a rainbow of vegetables or an apple and beetroot salad with green beans and coleslaw

Bean or chickpea & vegetable soup

Jacket potato with beans or hummus and salad

Wholemeal pitta breads stuffed with salad and falafels

Afternoon snack:

A small natural plant yoghurt with a handful of berries

Veggie Stix / Crudités (carrot, pepper, cucumber or celery) with a small tub of hummus

Dinner:

Wholemeal Pasta with  tomato / vegetable sauce

Whole grain rice with sweet potato & vegetable chilli

Stir fry with wholegrain rice noodles, tofu and a rainbow of vegetables

Beany burritos - wraps stuffed with wholegrain rice, roast veggies and beans

Lentil Dhal with wholegrain rice

Chickpea Tikka Masala with wholegrain rice

Dessert:

Coco Bites - see recipe below

Enjoy


Choco coco bites ; ingredients:

1 cup oats (use gluten free if required)

!/2 cup desiccated coconut

3/4 cup almond butter

⅓ cup maple syrup

¼ cocoa powder or cacao

2 tablespoons flaxseed

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

A pinch of salt

INSTRUCTIONS

In a food processor, combine almond butter, syrup, cocoa powder, flaxseed, vanilla, and salt. Pulse until the mixture comes together and is smooth. Add oats and coconut and mix until well combined. Mixture will be fairly loose, but should come together when scooped and rolled into balls. (If your mixture is too dry, you can add a little more almond butter or syrup, or a Tbsp of milk (almond or oat) at a time to help it come together. Scoop the mixture into balls and roll out to smooth, roll in extra coconut for a snowball look. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator and store up to 1 week. (You can also freeze these up to 1 month)

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