Food and mood

Posted on the 16th June 2020

Karen is a member of the WellChild Family Tree and a qualified Nutritional Therapist. She shares her thoughts on the connection between mood and food, and tips for healthy eating after parents in the WellChild Family Tree requested advice on diet and wellbeing during lockdown.

Many of us will have felt low and anxious about the future as we’ve navigated our way through lockdown. Unlike the rest of the population, we have previous experience of restricting who comes into our homes and have limited lifestyles, so you could say we are better prepared for Covid-19 than our friends, but we have many other added pressures too.

To help you keep calm and feel upbeat, find out how food can support your mood with a few top tips:

Water

Not drinking enough water can leave you feeling tired and on edge with difficulty concentrating. Ensure you drink 1.5 – 2 litres of water across the day to stay hydrated. This can include water infused with fruit and herbs e.g. lemon and mint or herbal teas such as calming camomile or lemon balm.

Caffeine

Although tea and coffee contain healthy compounds such as calming theanine (in tea) and antioxidant polyphenols (coffee) to protect against aging and disease, excess caffeine can amplify feelings of anxiety and nervousness and can also cause sleep issues. Reduce your number of cups to two a day and drink these before lunchtime so that they don’t impact on your sleep.

B vitamins

Good levels are important for energy and for relaxation, especially B6 which is key for female hormone balance. These vitamins are commonly found together in whole grain foods such as wholemeal breads, brown rice and pasta, beans and peas. Regularly eating large amount of processed foods may mean that you become low in B vitamins.

Magnesium

Magnesium has a general calming effect and will also will keep your energy levels up and improve your sleep quality. Our need for this mineral increases during difficult times so boost your intake by regularly eating plenty of green leaves such as kale and spinach and enjoy a couple of squares of dark chocolate here and there. Also take a magnesium rich relaxing Epsom salt bath a few times a week .

Breakfast

Choose a dish that contains protein and slow releasing energy such as porridge or avocado on rye bread to keep you feeling alert and full for hours. To boost your energy levels pop a handful of fruit on top of your porridge and finish off with a sprinkle of mixed seeds.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is produced when skin is exposed to sunlight and low levels can have a significant impact on mood and energy. Food sources include oily fish and eggs, but generally it’s difficult to maintain adequate levels, especially during the winter. Government advice is to supplement 10μg daily, but this may not be adequate for everybody, so consider testing.

Balance blood sugars

Eating too many carbohydrates, processed foods and snacking can throw your blood sugar levels out of balance and lead to an increase in stress hormones like cortisol and lows and highs in energy levels. The key is to not to overeat, to reduce snacking and to avoid sugary foods that spike your blood sugar levels.

Written by Karen Maude

Read more posts...

London Marathon 2020 Update

Following the news that London Marathon 2020 has been cancelled, here is an update on what this means for those planning to run at this year’s event for Team WellChild.

Posted 07 Aug 2020

Gut Feeling – A Journey Through a Child’s Digestive System

Gut Feeling is a new book, published in collaboration between Nicola Stewart and Evelina London Children’s Hospital, it is set to provide insight for parents and carers of children with digestive disorders. Dowload ‘Gut Feeling’...

Posted 05 Aug 2020