Are you always hungry when you eat? Or, like a lot of us, does food sometimes become a comfort or distraction as a way of overcoming anxiety, anger or sadness? We are all maybe a little too aware of the idea of comfort eating, and its true, foods can alter our mood in many different ways. But there’ s a huge difference between eating any type of food as an emotional anaesthesia for a quick fix and understanding the different qualities in foods and what they do, not only for your body, but your mind, too. If there were a single food guaranteed to make us happy, slim and energetic, supermarkets would soon be out of stock. So we’re not talking magical potions but there are some foods and nutrients that will benefit your well-being. Here are a few examples to suit your mood.

Mood Food
Our brains are made up of 60% fat, most of which is omega-3 – uber helpful in boosting happiness whilst also increasing learning and memory skills! Sounds great right? However, a deficit in omega-3 can be associated with experiences of depression or anxiety. So, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that we need to feed our brain with these essential fatty acids. Try adding more fish into your diet with some salmon, sardines or halibut for supper (all of which are particularly high in omega-3). Want to snack yourself happy? A handful of raw walnuts will give you that omega-3 boost you need. Finally, don’t forget one of our all time faves – chia seeds, not only high in the healthy fats we need but because bugs don’t like the plant there is no need to worry about any herbicides, pesticides or genetic modification, we like ours soaked in coconut milk and topped with berries as a healthy pud.

Eat Right, Sleep Tight
Lack of sleep can leave us irritable and lethargic. Whilst some may turn to popping pills to help the problem, we’d rather take a more natural alternative. Mentioned previously, walnuts work well in this instance too as they contain the sleep hormone melatonin, which effectively activates our ‘sleep-wake cycle’, telling our body its time to shut down so we can wake up fresh and revitalised the following morning! Another handy nut to snack on are almonds; rather than helping you get to sleep, these can help those of us who wake frequently throughout the nigh as the magnesium in almonds is said to help you stay asleep, giving us that well-rested feeling (and the glowing skin that goes with it)

Here at Hip & Healthy we love our green veggies so when we heard that lettuce contains lactucarium (a natural sedative) and would help us catch those extra zzz’s, you can imagine our glee! Okay maybe an over exaggeration, but still great! Don’t fancy a pre-bedtime bowl of lettuce? We have a tip: try brewing a few large pieces of lettuce in a cup of water for 15 minutes or so, remove from the heat and add some mint. And VOILA… the perfect night cap.

Eat Yourself Calm
Work deadlines pilling up, social calendar full and a to-do list getting ever longer? The last thing you want to hear is to steer clear of the vending machine and avoid that chocolate biscuit with your afternoon tea. You may feel you’re too stressed and don’t have the time to think about eating healthily, but when it comes to stress levels, what you put in your body really can relieve some tension. Instead of reaching for the first sandwich you can get your hands on at lunchtime, try a piece of rye bread with avocado. Avocado has gained some serious pr recently and it’s not hard to see why. They are packed full of vitamin B, which is great for healthy nerves and brain cells, making it a great stress relief. The high monounsaturated fat and potassium also reduce blood pressure and can not only be used in a sandwich but their versatility means it wont be hard for you to add them into your diet. Try guacamole dip, smashed avocado and egg for breakfast or in a salad at dinner. Another small but mighty food for your mood are blueberries; full of antioxidants and vitamin C, blueberries are great stress relievers. Antioxidants and vitamin C help repair and protect cells making us more able to cope with any situation.

Foods that Fight Fatigue
You don’t need to have a PhD in nutrition to know that food is the body’s fuel and affects our energy levels. So, it’s not just the hours of sleep you clocked up the night before that can affect how you feel the next day, and before you opt for a coffee or energy drink… Stop… Bad idea. Feeling tired or sluggish can often mean you are lacking in something else, that can’t be solved by a quick buzz of energy. Often fatigue is related to not consuming enough iron; iron is essential for bringing oxygen to our cells. High quantities of it can be found in meats such as lean beef or skinless chicken. If you’re more into plant-based foods try beans, lentils, spinach or sesame seeds. Just steer clear of those nutritionally empty energy drinks and these natural foods will put the pep back in your step!

words by Blaise Dyer