How are you feeling? And what did you last eat? It is probably not the whole picture, but there is a good chance there is a link between the two. As you go through university, with lots of pressure and deadlines, potentially even learning to cook for the first time, food is important. It is possible to hack your health using the food that you eat.
Uni is a tough time to eat healthily. You live and breathe pizza, takeaways and pints. However, it can also give you the time you need to plan meals, cook with friends and eat well.
What can you eat to improve your mood?
The most important thing to do is eat regular meals. Eating a small amount of food regularly is better than skipping breakfast and bingeing at 9pm. This can help keep your blood sugar levels consistent and ensure you have the energy you need to keep going.
Carbs is a popular evil these days. However, well-chosen carbohydrates can do wonders for your mood. Wholegrains, fruits, vegetables and legumes like beans and lentils can all boost tryptophan in the brain. This amino acid helps your body synthesise the mood regulator serotonin better.
Another feel-good chemical dopamine also needs you to eat well for it to work properly. Eating protein rich foods works, as well as helping you slow the absorption of carbohydrates.
Vitamin and mineral rich foods are an essential addition to the mix. For example, vitamins like folate and B12 can help fight the symptoms of depression. Six to eight glasses of water a day can hydrate you and maintain your concentration levels.
If you’ve made a dish yourself and it is bursting with colour, flavour and textures, you are probably on the right track.
What can you avoid to improve your mood?
Unfortunately, a lot of the things that make life worth living are unhealthy. They can damage your mood though, so if you are feeling low and you’ve checked out your health and the things going right or wrong in your life, then it’s worth snooping around your diet.
Keep a food diary. It might shock you to find out what you actually eat, especially when you are grazing, grabbing quick snacks or eating out.
Sugar is dangerously addictive and hiding in unexpected places in our food. Sweets, chocolate and cakes will always be delicious, shiny and tempting. However, it can also make you crash after your temporary high. You probably haven’t been told since you were a toddler that sugar will rot your teeth, but it will.
Caffeine and alcohol are a crutch that some students can rely on to get through the week, work hard and play hard. Caffeine is a stimulant that can cause insomnia, nerves, irritability and even severe symptoms like muscle tremors and heart palpitations.
Alcohol is a depressant, which might not be what you were expecting given that most people use it sociably. This means that it can dampen your mood severely as well as dull your reactions and cause endless other problems if used irresponsibly to excess.
Combining caffeine and alcohol can also be lethal. You lose sight of how drunk you have become because the energy drink has flooded your system with a caffeine rush. You can’t be in a very good mood if you aren’t alive to enjoy it.
No one superfood is going to improve your life. It is still important to treat yourself and enjoy food. If you want to improve your mood, focus more on your studies and reach your peak, healthy food is an essential ingredient.
Healthy eating is useful advice for everyone, but if you are particularly interested in how it relates to mood and therapy, read about our Counselling courses at CU Coventry, CU London and CU Scarborough.