Healthy eating tips this cold weather

What you eat has a direct effect on how you feel. Eating the right foods can improve mental health, lessen mood swings, anxiety and even depression.

Cutting down on food 'stressors' such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, chocolate, additives, dairy products and saturated fats and increasing the amount of 'supporters' such as vegetables, water, fruits, oil-rich fish, nuts, lean protein and whole grain food have a beneficial effect on ones mood.

For this much, you should be putting healthy wholesome meals on your table.

Many however, consume foods like fast foods, more sugar than necessary to cereals and beverages like tea and juices. No wonder during cold and wet weather, more people than usual can not fend off viruses and bugs in the air because their bodies are low in immunity.

Tips to improve your mood and sense of emotional well-being
  • Cut down on white bread, cookies, crisps, margarine and butter, and other snacks. Foods that release energy at a slower, more sustained rate include grains cereals, whole grain breads, grains and pulses like beans, soy beans and peas, fruits like bananas and vegetables, and porridge oats.

  • Reduce consumption of caffeine in coffee, tea, chocolate and cola drinks as it is a central nervous system stimulant widely consumed for its positive effect on mood, well-being and performance. A drink with caffeine may make one feel better and more alert for a short time but the effect quickly fades to make one feel restlessness, nervous, anxious, irritable and unable to concentrate. Herbal and fruit teas or simply decaffeinated coffee are healthier alternatives.

  • Reduce intake of refined sugars. The brain is the organ that is most sensitive to a change in blood glucose. Too little produces fatigue, confusion, irritability and aggression while too much may result in loss of consciousness. Glucose intolerance, and minerals and vitamin deficiencies, all of which have an effect on mental functioning are risks associated with with a diet containing too much refined sugar.

    Note: Replace foods containing concentrated sugars with those that take longer to be digested and therefore release energy to the body for a longer time and do not cause such rapid increases in insulin. Also include protein and fiber for its ability to reduce the rate at which food is digested and to consume regular meals to avoid blood sugar falling dangerously low.

    • Nutritional supplements such as vitamin and multi-mineral supplements are advised. However these are best  prescribed by a doctor so that one can get the most effective for their needs. Some of these specific supplements beneficial for symptoms of mental illness include omega-3 essential fatty acid or eating oil-rich fish and mixing linseed or flax oil with food. Other beneficial nutrients include the B group of vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium and Zinc.

    So the next time you are feeling less than your best self, think back to what you have put in your mouth.

    Take time to consciously think about what you are eating and you should soon see not only a healthier but happier version of you.

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