So, for today’s Wellness Wednesday post, I’m all about the food. Mainly because I feel like an oompa loompa post-Easter. Because. Chocolate fiend and lack of self-control. But food is the shiz. Truly. It does so much for us.
Now I just need to be open from the get go. I am no dietician. I can’t go and break down food into chemical properties etc. But I do know about mood. And what impacts on mood. We psychs get trained on the physiological aspects of the body and brain and what can influence mood. And food? It’s got a big role to play.
Often we think that food is just energy. To keep us going and stop us feeling sluggish blah blah blah. We tend to forget how important food is for our mood. Dude. Sorry. I had to do it. I am afflicted with the lame-o gene. Did you know that 80-90% (depending on the reports you read. But they’re deathly boring outside of this fact so try to avoid reading them) of our serotonin (AKA: happy juice) is in our gut? For realz! So, if we’re not looking after ourselves with food, and we’re stripping our gut, guess what else we’re stripping? Our happy juices.
The gut has actually been called ‘the second brain’ by some researchers (see here), because of the dense layer of neurons found in there. It sends way more messages to the brain, than the brain does to the gut, even though we all like to think we’re controlled by that weird pink thing in our skulls. There’s notions that the gut also plays a role in our emotions. Butterflies in the tummy anyone? That shit is real. Well, metaphorically real. Unless you ate butterflies. There seems to be quite a link between nervous disorders and gastrointestinal issues. See? Food and Mood.
Like the old adage- what goes up, must come down. Same thing happens to our mood with food. If we’re eating lots of simple carbs and fatty foods (sugars etc… all the yummy stuff) we’ll get a rush briefly, we’ll feel bouncy and then we crash. They make us feel warm and squishy for a bit, but it never lasts. Hello sluggish town. You suck balls. Same with my beloved wine. I know, I prescribe it for everything. BUT. If you’re already in a downward spiral, or feeling low, wine is only going to lower you further. It’s a depressant that gives you false hope. That first drink peps you up, makes you feel chilled and smiley, but if you’ve got underlying mood issues crackin’, then the next drink and the next will result in that slump.
Nutrition also impacts on our memory. Good nutrition enhances memory, and refined sugars and saturated fats fuck our memory right up. So sleep deprived mums who are walking around like zombies and don’t have time to eat a proper meal? Double whammy right there. That baby brain stuff? Most probably cruddy preggo and post preggo nutrition coupled with lack of sleep (in the rational scientific world. In my world? THAT SHIT IS REAL. And it doesn’t go away. Ever). That’s why it’s so important to try and at least eat regularly and balanced in those early stages of babydom. Of course it’s nigh on impossible to fix yourself a 5 course luncheon while whipping your boob out/getting bottles ready, cleaning poop, catching vomit, rocking babies etc. But. Reaching for the block of chocolate, or snavelling a bag of chips and not balancing it out is just gonna make shit worse. We’ve gotta build on that serotonin in our gut, not strip it. We have way more serotonin neurons in our gut than in our brain. Hence why serotonin inhibitor meds can sometimes be ineffective, but diet can help our mood.
This food and mood caper can be a hard thing to explain to kids sometimes, but often I have cherubs coming in telling me they’ve lost their appetite (due to depression, grief, anxiety) and they can’t understand why they feel even more down after spending a day of trying to focus, interact with others, run around at lunchtime and get schoolwork done. It can become a nasty cycle for kidlets, and difficult to break.
So we gotta lead by example. Try to balance foods out. Make sure you get an adequate caloric intake of the right kinds of food our bodies and our mood needs. Don’t starve the serotonin in your gut. If you’re not feeling so crash hot, examine what you’re putting in your mouth. A good probiotic could work wonders. As with everything though, this doesn’t mean you need to quit sugar, live a life of eating raw nuts and tree bark. It means put shit into perspective and be moderate with what you eat. Balance input with output. Feed your mood food that will keep it stable. Go with your gut instinct. It’s a real thing!
I could bang on and on, but really you might want to slap me. If you want to read any more of this stuff about second brains, and guts and happy juices you can find info here and here and here. And don’t listen to my waffle on nutrition, go check out some great sites what will give you way more info. Have you heard of Shannon’s Kitchen? Hilarious stuff right there. With a dose of great advice on food.
Do you notice a change in your mood with certain foods? What’s your go-to mood improving munch?