In Australia, this years WMHD theme is “Look after your health, Australia.’
In order to do this, we are encouraged to make a make a mental health promise, to look after our wellbeing.
I encourage you to think about what promise you will make this WMHD and if it just happens to be a promise to eat for your mood, here are some easy ways to action this promise:
Add colour to your diet
The saying ‘we eat with our eyes’ has a lot of truth behind it! When we are excited by our food, it instantly makes us feel good about what we are eating. This can have a positive knock on effect on our digestion. Mindset aside, bright coloured foods such as veggies, fruit, and herbs and spices all contain potent phytochemical compounds, which exert an antioxidant impact in the body, linked to improved mood.
My top colourful mood supportive foods are: berries, turmeric, saffron, broccoli, sweet potato, red cabbage and kale.
Drizzle or top with fats
I think its safe to say most of us now know healthy fats are important for a good mood. In addition, a lot of the vitamin and antioxidant compounds, found in the foods we eat, such as sweet potato, carrot, kale, spinach, turmeric, tomatoes, beetroot, corn, broccoli etc, require fat in order to be absorbed and utilised by the body. This means, if we aren’t eating adequate fat with each meal containing these foods, we can miss out on the benefits! A simple way to overcome this is to drizzle or top each meal with a bit of healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil, hemp seed oil, flaxseed oil, avocado, nuts/seeds or nut butters and tahini.
Add a handful of raw nuts to your day
Nuts are a one stop shop when it comes to supporting mood. They are not only rich in healthy fats but also protein and fibre which help to regulate blood sugar and also an array of mood supportive antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Better still, they are so simple to add to your diet including snacking on a handful, adding them to smoothies and salads, topping cereal and muesli with nuts, sprinkling on roasted veggies, crushing and adding to dips or adding to sauces such as bolognese (walnuts work really well!).
Add new plants foods to your diet weekly
Plant diversity is key to creating a healthy gut microbiome. The gut-brain axis means there is constant communication between our brain and gut. This means, when one is off, it can negatively influence the other. Therefore, paying attention to gut health is another way we can take care of our mood. To increase diversity, instead of buying the same veggies, fruits, herbs, wholegrains, legumes week in week out, try new options and make a conscious effort to add new plant foods to your diet weekly.
Eat a healthy breakfast
The breakfast we consume can make or break the rest of our eating habits. Unfortunately, a breakfast high in refined carbs and sugars can lead to a ravenous appetite throughout the day and energy crashes which leads us to more refined sugar and carbs as a pick me up! Instead starting the day with a breakfast rich in healthy fats, protein and fibre helps to regulate appetite and balance blood sugar which both support mood. To show you just how quick, yet delicious and satisfying breakfast can be, make sure to try my mood boosting golden breakfast smoothie below:
Golden Breakfast Smoothie
1 cup oat milk (or other milk of choice)
½ frozen banana, skin removed and chopped
¾ cup frozen pineapple (or fresh)
1 tbsp. hemp or chia seeds
1 pinch turmeric, ground
1 pinch ginger, group
pinch black pepper
honey or maple syrup to sweeten
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.
Pour into a serving glass and enjoy!