Can what you eat significantly affect your mood? Yes, according to a recent survey conducted by members of the London-based Food and Mood Project (www.foodandmood.org). After surveying 200 people suffering from myriad mental health problems during a one-year period, nutritional therapist Amanda Geary found that more than one-third of the participants experienced significant improvements when they ate or avoided particular foods. Participants who suffered from anxiety, panic, and mood swings had the greatest improvements in mood, after incorporating more "supporters" (foods that help sustain good moods) and eliminating identified "stressors" (foods that drag down moods) from their diets. Those struggling with depression reported the second-highest shift in behavior when eating similar diets.
According to the report, mood supporters include fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, oil-rich fish, and high-protein foods—all of which keep blood sugar levels steady. Geary also discovered that eating regularly and not skipping breakfast, as well as drinking more water, had a beneficial effect on moods. Food stressors, on the other hand, include alcohol and chocolate, and for about 80 percent of study participants, sugar and caffeine have the worst effect on blood sugar levels and thus foster foul moods and anxiety.