Does food affect your mood, and on what level does it impact your mood?
Does your mood effect what you eat?
Can food be a determinant of Mental Health such as anxiety and depression?
These are questions that researchers have been asking for years.
“In 2005 the Mental Health Foundation recognized diet as an underestimated determinant of mental health. Studies have found both suppression of negative emotions and inability to withstand negative emotions to be associated with excessive food intake, particularly of foods rich in fat and sugar, often considered comfort foods.”
According to the Mental Health Foundation, there is a close relationship between food and your mood. This relationship isn’t just that your emotions effect what you eat, but that what you eat effects your emotions too.
Here are a few examples on how ffood and emotions are related:
1 Depression as well as negative emotions and inability to withstand negative emotions are associated with consumption of foods rich in fat and sugar. Furthermore, depression has been associated with lower consumption of fruits and vegetables.
2 Stress can result in either increased or reduced food intake depending on the types of stress and psychological response. While some people will react to stress with overeating comfort foods others will react with a diminished appetite resulting in weight loss. Either way stress effects our food intake.
3 There is a theory in the relationship of emotions and eating, where emotions regulate eating and eating regulates emotions. For example, negative emotions can lead to overeating of comfort foods which leads to obesity that furthers negative emotions due to metabolic disturbances.
4 Studies have shown that an emotional state can influence the taste of food. Negative emotions have been reported to diminish sweet taste and enhance sour taste and vice versa.
Of all emotions, a study shows that frequent emotions such as, anger and joy have the strongest influence on appetite and food choice. As humans, we attempt at regulating our moods with various strategies and methods. One such method is eating. But does it work?
“The interaction between mood, emotional state, and feeding behaviors is complex and it is hypothesized that individuals regulate their emotions and mood by changing both food choices and quantities. It is also apparent that mood can affect the self-rewarding mechanisms of food consumption. Specific types of food tend to be preferred under certain psychological conditions due to the influence of foods on the activity of brain reward centers. Positive feedback loops can result in enhancement of appetite leading to obesity.”
Often eating what is considered “comfort food” (foods which are high in fats and sugar) can provide relief from negative emotions on a temporary basis, however, continuous overeating ultimately leads to obesity and/or depression and anxiety. In the reverse, studies have shown that high-fat foods can lead to negative emotions and/or high stress levels, so what you eat can also affect your mood not just the other way around.
Since mood can influence food preference and eating palatable foods can either lead to comfort feelings or feelings of disgust. A good idea would be to observe and monitor our emotions after eating a meal. Normally, hunger would lead to irritability and eating leads to energy and calm behaviors. If eating certain foods or certain amounts of foods is resulting in negative emotions, then were either eating too much or not the right foods. Being aware of your emotions before and after eating and adjusting your food intake accordingly is a sure way to work towards a healthier body and mind.