Blog & Articles


Mood and Food by Christine Prather, LPCMH

July 12, 2016

There are many ways that food can affect how we feel and how we feel can influence what we eat. When we are stressed or depressed, our appetites can be affected, and some tend to crave energy-dense, sweet, fatty foods, better known as “comfort foods,” to alleviate stress. According to the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, there is a correlation between mood and the foods we choose. They found that when stressed or in a bad mood, people tend to make more unhealthy food choices and choose junk food over nutritious food. On the other hand, they also found that people make healthier, more nutritious food choices, when they feel better or are in a good mood.

Although comfort foods smell and taste good and provide immediate gratification, these can ultimately lower mood, decrease energy, or make us feel sluggish; especially those high in sugar. Processed foods high in sugar and unhealthy fats contribute to inflammation in the body and inflammation has been linked to diseases such as depression, diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, one should avoid sweets and processed foods. Alcohol is a depressant and can make you feel worse. It also contributes to the elimination of vitamin B1, magnesium and zinc.

If you feel stressed, depressed or just down and out, resist the urge to grab a quick fix like chips, soda, or ice cream that may taste good but make you feel worse in the long run. Instead, be proactive and prepare for those stressful days that are so common in our fast-paced society. Keep healthy, unprocessed foods handy in the fridge and pantry. Prepare them ahead of time and make them easy to grab. For example, keep some cut-up fruit and vegetables, yogurt, or an already prepared high-protein smoothie available in the refrigerator. Nuts are also high in protein, nutritious and easy to grab.

Also try to recognize when you’re getting down and purposefully concentrate on what you’re thankful for. If necessary, write it down and refer back to it throughout the day. This can lift your mood and help you focus on the big picture versus only the here and now.



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