How Your Diet Affects Your Mental Health
While our food choices most notably affect our weight, they can also play a significant role in our emotional well-being and mental health. As humans, we are genetically programmed to like sweet-tasting things. Our love of sweet tastes comes from our ancient ancestors who learned that sweet fruits and veggies were ripe and safe to eat. However, today, sweet-tasting things come in many varieties, and a lot of them aren’t good for you physically or mentally, in excess.
Resarch has shown that the foods we consume play an important role in how we feel and act. A 2014 study of over 3,500 people reported that long-term exposure to an unhealthy diet, one high in sugar and processed foods, appeared to increase the risk for depression.
Foods high in sugar and fat have also been cited as a risk factor leading to addictive eating. Sugar and fat trigger the same pleasure centers in the brain that addictive drugs do. The pleasurable feelings that come from eating such foods help relieve stress and cause people to overeat or even binge eat.
Being more aware of your food choices and how they affect your moods and overall mental health can help lead to a healthier and happier you.
If you think your food choices are affecting your moods or well being, try keeping a food diary for several days of what you eat and how you feel afterward. You may find that you are turning to unhealthy choices and overeating simply to feel better.
That information can help lead you to making healthier choices. Or, if extra help is needed, talk to your family physician, a local nutritionist or a professional counselor to help steer your diet back on track for better physical and mental health.