Good mood food: how your diet can affect your mental health

As we shiver through winter, it’s tempting to reach for some comfort food.

But that short-term sugar fix might just affect your stress management and mental health.

Food fuels both body and mind. While nutritious foods help our bodies grow, repair and function properly, your brain accounts for around 20 per cent of your total daily energy requirements.

A healthy diet is linked to better stress management, improved sleep, increased concentration and better overall mental wellbeing.

So what foods can help flip your mood around?

Fruits and vegetables

Sunrise nutritionist Susie Burrell points to the Mediterranean diet as a good starting point.

Under this diet, you eat 7-10 serves of fresh fruits and vegetables per day.

“We know that less than one in ten Australians get this amount of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Burrell told Weekend Sunrise.

File image of woman shopping for vegetables.

And to brighten your mood, you’ll want to pick bright coloured veges.

  • leafy greens (spinach, kale)
  • tomatoes
  • carrots
  • sweet potato
Fats

Not all fats are made equal and the right ones are actually good for your health.

“We know that it helps with mood, we know that it helps with satiety and fullness and, again, Australians don’t get a lot of this,” Burrell said.

  • olive oil
  • sardines
  • salmon
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • avocado
Antioxidants

There is good news for wine and chocolate lovers, good red wine and dark chocolate can actually be beneficial to your health, particularly for gut health.

  • red wine
  • dark chocolate
  • yoghurt
What to avoid

While reaching for a bag of lollies may be all you want to do, ultra-processed foods are exactly what you want to steer clear of.

  • lollies
  • milk and white chocolate
  • chips
  • soft drinks
  • biscuits/cookies

“If you’re someone more prone to depression and low mood at this time of year, these are the foods to really keep to a minimum,” Burrell said.

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