Feel good food for friends and family

by Dr Sarah Schenker

What we eat not only has a huge impact on our health; it can also change our mood and sense of wellbeing. Which is why we should take particular care when choosing the ingredients we cook with for those we care about. Choosing foods that will reduce stress and feelings of anxiety, as well as promoting happiness and contentment will have far reaching effects on our overall health. As part of a balanced diet, these positive mood foods will increase energy levels, regulate appetite and even promote better quality sleep.

Wholegrain Basmati
Fluctuations in blood sugar levels are associated with changes in mood and energy, and are affected by what we eat. Wholegrain Basmati rice has a low GI, which means it contains the type of carbohydrate that releases it’s energy slowly, keeping blood sugar levels steady and maintaining
a more balanced, calm mood. Wholegrain Basmati also provides vitamins and minerals that are important for good mental health.

Quinoa
Quinoa provides and mix of complex carbohydrate and fibre, which helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels, as well as having a higher amount of protein compared with most grains. This can help to control appetite and reduce cravings for sugary and fatty snacks between meals. Feeling more in control of your appetite can reduce stress levels and help you make healthier choices at meal times.

Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds provide tryptophan, an amino acid, which plays an important role in the production of several important hormones including the mood-regulating neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin plays a role in fighting anxiety, promoting good moods and producing the sleep hormone melatonin. Tryptophan also helps the body to produce important B-vitamin niacin, which is needed for good mental health and can prevent depression.

Pulses
Pulses contain substances known as phytoestrogens, which can help to balance hormones such as testosterone. When the level of this hormone rises, mood can be affected and increase feelings of stress and anxiety. The phytoestrogens help to prevents excess levels circulating in the blood. Pulses also contain plenty of fibre, which can prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels.

Green Leafy Veg
Energy, appetite, mood, weight and body temperature are all governed by hormones produced by the thyroid gland. Thyroid hormones affects metabolism, and an imbalance can produce a wide variety of symptoms. An underactive thyroid can cause weight gain, put you in a low mood and make you feel sluggish and cold all the time. Green leafy veg contain important vitamins including vitamins A, C and E needed for the healthy production of thyroid hormones.