Life may be a roller coaster of anxiety and irritability for many people – but if you want to soothe your mood, look to your food.
What you eat – and when–has a massive impact on your state of mind.
These simple tips from nutritionist Jane Clarke can help you feel happier during these challenging times.
1. Start with breakfast
Jane says: “Eating soon after we wake can help to balance our blood sugar and hormone levels to give us vitality and mental focus for the day.
“I recommend protein – poached eggs, full-fat Greek yogurt with fruit, or a bowl of porridge with nuts and seeds.
"There’s also a psychological effect of having a good breakfast.
"Knowing you have eaten well helps you to feel in control, so you are more inclined to keep up the good work throughout the day.”
2. Eat the right carbs
“Complex carbohydrates, such as sweet potatoes, porridge oats and wholegrains, are processed by the body more slowly than their refined counterparts, such as white bread and pasta.
“Eating these means you won’t get a classic high followed by a crash that makes you feel sluggish and irritable.
“Carbohydrates also trigger a response in the body that leads to the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain.
"This soothing effect can be felt around 30 minutes after eating a carb-rich meal.”
3. Feel-good foods
“If low mood or anxiety is a problem, you may find some relief by increasing the amount of tryptophan-rich foods in your diet.
“Tryptophan is used by the brain to produce the happy hormone serotonin. It is chicken, turkey, eggs, salmon, tuna, beans, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds.
“Oh, and chocolate. Chocolate also contains theobromine, which is proven to boost mood and relaxes muscles, creating a calming effect.”
4. Cut back on caffeine
“I never miss my morning coffee but drinking caffeine after lunch can make me feel twitchy and anxious and it does not help me to sleep later on.
“If you’re sensitive to caffeine, switch to a fruit or herbal infusion after 4pm to keep on an even keel.
“Calming teas include chamomile, bergamot and lemon balm.
“Before bed, switch to sedative brews, such as blue vervain, valerian and hops.
“And a glass of fresh milk can remind us of a childhood wind-down routine.”
5. Stay hydrated
“You may not associate how much water you drink with your mood, but dehydration can really make you feel short-tempered and irritable.
“It is a good idea to keep a flask or bottle of water beside you and keep sipping throughout the day.
“You should aim to drink 2.5 litres a day, and more if it’s very hot or you are exercising.”What is the first thing you notice about a person?