Eat yourself happy

What you eat has an enormous impact on how you feel. Here’s our 10-step guide to feeling great every day.

1. Slow release carbohydrates

Carbohydrates play a key role with transporting tryptophan to the brain, which is then converted to our happy hormone serotonin.

This means that low mood can be a common side effect of popular low carbohydrate diets. Not all carbohydrates are created equally though. Fast release carbohydrates such as white refined bread, pasta, rice, pastries, fruit juice and confectionary goods can provide a short burst of energy, but can also result in blood sugar highs and lows.

Blood sugar lows can cause concentration to go straight out the window. This is because our brains run on sugar to function, in fact the brain uses as much as 20% of energy needed by the body. All carbohydrates break down to sugar, but only the fibre-rich slow release carbohydrates provide sustained fuel to the brain.

What should you do?

Choose fibre rich wholegrain bread, pasta, rice, oats, potato, quinoa, buckwheat, rye, and barley.

2. Set yourself up for success by having a healthy option to hand for that 3pm sugar fix!

If you have the right food to hand, then you’re more likely to make healthier choices when those sugar cravings hit. Whilst many of us have sugar cravings, consuming neat sugar straight off the spoon seems rather unappetising. Instead we crave a combination of sugar and fat which provides those moreish and hyperpalatible qualities.

What should you do?

If opting for a healthier sweet snack, choose a mix sugar and fat for their satisfying properties - try apple (sugar) dipped in nut butter (fat), or a banana (sugar) with Greek yoghurt (fat). You could also try our low sugar cacao and chia energy balls.

3. Nutrient dense foods

Crisps, chocolate and ready meals may seem convenient and can be enjoyed in moderation. However if they regularly feature within the diet, you may be lacking on vitamins and mineral which support mood.

For example you a snack of a banana dipped in almond butter or homemade houmous and carrots can be super tasty, yet also also provides you with a source of vitamin B6. This water-soluble vitamin plays an essential role in the production of key neurotransmitters, which are involved with mood, including serotonin and dopamine.

Low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with symptoms of depression as well as PMS and mood swings.

4. High fibre foods

90% of our serotonin is located within the gut, and only 10% is located within the brain. Scientists are now referring to our gut as our second brain, and the latest research has shown that our gut bacteria may influence how much serotonin we produce.

While the research is still relatively new and not yet conclusive, many of us could do with a little more good gut bacteria due to widespread antibiotic use.

Fibre is our gut’s best friend and the primary fuel for our good gut bacteria. Whilst we should aim for 30g per day, many within the UK are only consuming 15-18g.

What should you do?

Try wholegrains such as cous cous or wholegrain bread. Opt for hummous + carrot sticks as a snack. Add the whole fruit to your smoothie and top up with fibre rich chia seeds.

5. Tryptophan rich foods