Food and mood – 8 ways to get you thinking about how your food affects your mood. 1. Eat regularly. If your blood sugar drops it can make you feel tired, irritable or depressed. Eating regularly will keep your sugar levels steady. Try food that releases energy slowly, like food high in protein such as nuts and seeds, oats and wholegrains. 2. Make sure you’re getting the right fats. Your brain needs fatty oils such as omega 3 and 6 to keep it working well. So rather than avoiding all fats, it’s important to eat the right ones. Try eating food high in the good fats, like oily fish, chicken, nuts like walnuts and almonds, olive and sunflower oils, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, avocados, or milk, yoghurt, cheese and eggs. 3. Increase your protein. Protein has amino acids in it. These make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. It also helps control your blood sugar levels. So, try eating protein rich foods- lean meat, fish, eggs, cheese, legumes like peas, beans, and lentils, nuts and seeds. 4. Drink more. If you’re not hydrated enough you might find it difficult to concentrate or think clearly. You might also start to feel constipated, which puts no one in a good mood. Water is great, but why not try drinking herbal or green tea, or diluted fruit juice. 5. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Vegetables and fruit contain a lot of the minerals, vitamins and fibre we need to keep us physically and mentally healthy. Eating a variety of different colours every day means you’ll get a good range of nutrients. 6. Cut down on the caffeine. Having too much caffeine can make you feel anxious and depressed, disturb your sleep, especially if you’re having it last thing at night, or give you withdrawal symptoms when you stop suddenly. Caffeine is in things like coffee, tea, chocolate, cola, and energy drinks. You might feel better if you stop drinking caffeine completely, but just cutting down will help too. 7. Pay attention to your gut. Your gut and your brain use similar chemicals, so keeping your gut healthy can help to keep your brain healthy too. Healthy gut foods include fibre rich foods like fruits, vegetables and wholegrains, and live yoghurts which contain probiotics. Remember that it might take time for your gut to get used to a new eating pattern, so make changes slowly. 8. Are you intolerant? Sometimes people have food intolerances which can affect both your mental and physical health. If you’re worried you might be intolerant, you could contact a professional dietitian or nutritionist. Remember that any changes you make might take time for your body and your mind to get used to. So, if you’re changing to a new eating pattern, it might take a while for you to start feeling the benefits.