Monday, July 9, 2012

Food for your mood? Or mood for your food?

Food for your mood? Or mood for your food?
In which ways are you currently choosing your foods?
We often know what we feel like when we are in a certain mood. But, how do we know what foods to choose if we wanted to create a more lasting effect on our mood? Which foods are going to provide us with long term benefits to our health? Or are we simply craving to feel a certain way?
We are naturally very intuitive when it comes to choosing our foods. In this day and age, there is much widespread confusion about what food is ‘good’ for you and what is not. Speaking to many women in the community, it seems that we generally feel bad about food cravings and eating certain foods. The fact is eating should always feel good and we should always love and listen to all of our cravings.
“…Mood is dynamic and interchanging - we can bring ourselves into balance by taking a holistic approach to our eating, by getting to Know foods…”

Let’s look at some factors which can impact our food choices, to understand our body and what it needs from food. We will address: 
1) Why we get cravings and addictions to certain foods
2) How we can support our body in the healthiest way
3) How we can balance our meals for optimal energy and balanced mood
Understanding ourselves and addictions to foods 
When we are stressed out or tired, we tend to choose foods which are quick to provide us with energy to make us feel better instantly. Carbohydrates that are high in sugar and refined flour products may give us a boost of energy in the short term, but will inevitably deplete us of important nutrients, leading to nutritional deficiencies, low energy levels and low mood. 

“Possible signs and symptoms of energy imbalances can include: energy highs and lows throughout the day, tiredness especially after eating, muscle cramping and fatigue, overweight, low muscle mass, poor sleep, insomnia, stress, over-active thoughts, hyperactivity, depression and a variety of other mood disorders.“
One of the main reasons that the  carbohydrate ‘high’ impacts our mood directly, is because when we have these sugary foods, our body releases a substance called tryptophan.
  • Trytophan is the amino acid that produces the neurotransmitter, Serotonin – an important happy hormone. Serotonin is the brain chemical that is targeted with most anti-depressant medications. An increase in serotonin means a happier mood and we feel more relaxed. 
So, high sugar foods really do make us feel good and you can probably see how it would be easy to feel quite attracted (and possibly even quite addicted) to these feelings. But, when we wind up feeling more tired and stressed than ever before, it is time to get back in touch with our body and what it really needs for better and lasting health.
Fresh foods are high in vitality which provides our body with a natural rush of oxygen through the blood stream. This feels energising and refreshing.”
Eating natural whole foods diet, that is - food as close as possible to its most natural state - helps the body to produce everything it needs to feel good. Including some raw foods, like a salad or some fresh cut herbs, with each meal will provide enzymes and vitamins to boost natural feelings of goodness.
A good way of ensuring you have a healthy level of serotonin, without the need for a sugary high, is to balance each meal with:
  1. Quality complex carbohydrates – for sustained energy
  2. A variety of amino acids  - for balanced mood 
“A lack of complex carbohydrates or amino acids, can lead to an imbalance of the other.”
Specific foods to increase on a regular basis, to promote a happier mood and more energy include: Almonds, sesame seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, guava, apple, pear, cabbage, pawpaw, blueberries, leafy green vegetables, bananas, avocado, goji berries, cacao, whole grains like oats and quinoa, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds.
What am I really craving?
Good quality essential fatty acids are really important for the health of the brain and the nervous system and for most parts of the body. That is, the Omegas, 3, 6 and 9’s. Often when we crave ‘junk foods’, like chips and other fatty foods, it may be because our body is actually in need of some good quality fats. Small handfuls of raw nuts and seeds added to dishes will provide essential fats as well as amino acids and various minerals.
“…Don’t curse your cravings, listen to them…”
The simple key to finding satisfaction and feeling good from foods is pretty straight forward - listen to your body and give it what it needs. This is your eating intuition. Especially, listen to your body when you are craving certain foods. Find out what it is your body really needs and what it is asking for. 
Of course, everyone is individual. There are many nutritional factors which influence the absorption of nutrients and our approaches to foods. This includes food allergies, caffeine, alcohol, chemical substances like pesticides, medications and various lifestyle choices. With an eating plan to suit your specific needs you will find balance with your health, energy and mood. 
“...Love your foods, love your body…”
Treat yourself to a personalised nutrition plan with Jessica St Clair Rogers, Natural Nutrition Therapist.
Jessica St Clair Rogers is currently practicing Nutrition in Middle Park, Melbourne. Jessica provides her clients with an understanding of how easy it is to make small and tasty changes to everyday food choices, to make massive differences to health. By educating her clients in how to know foods for specific health outcomes, her clients approach the road to wellness with confidence and much better long term health. 
Visit for more information on how Know Foods Australia can assist you
Contact Jessica on 04310399277 or Email