As we have retreated into our homes to wait out the coronavirus storm, we have all been finding new ways to entertain ourselves and our families. Many of us may have been cooking more elaborate dishes, trying our hand at baking or simply finding ourselves munching on more of our favourite comfort foods. Although all foods are appropriate in moderation, some, in excess, may be exacerbating a bad mood or having a detrimental effect on a person’s overall mental wellbeing. This then may be intensified by the frustration of being inside the house for longer and all of the added stress that the coronavirus crisis has brought with it. Rather than omitting these foods completely, monitoring the amount of comfort food that you eat could be a good way to stay on top of your overall mental state.
Most of us partake in drink choices within the categories of alcohol, caffeine and soda. All of which are fine in moderation, but can take a negative toll when too much is consumed.
Alcohol, in small doses can be beneficial to a person’s mood, but too much will harmfully impact mood. According to Drink Aware ‘Regular, heavy drinking interferes with chemicals in the brain that are vital for good mental health. So while we might feel relaxed after a drink, in the long run alcohol has an impact on mental health and can contribute to feelings of depression and anxiety, and make stress harder to deal with.’ Of course, drinking to deal with stress or depression should be avoiding completely. A glass a day may be perfectly suitable, but you may also look to having a few alcohol-free days a week.
Most of us turn to a caffeinated drink to shake off the dregs of sleep in the morning, and as a pleasant drink choice throughout the day. Caffeinated drinks such as coffee or tea, are not necessarily harmful too us, but can be in excess. Huffington Post reported that: ‘Caffeinated beverages such as coffee cause the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, according to Medical Daily. This is fine in small doses, but too much — often as little as one extra cup — can lead to irritability, agitation and anxiety.’
Sugared drinks such as soda, contain high-levels of ‘simple-sugars’ which absorb quickly into the bloodstream, giving a quick boost and a heavy crash. Not only can excessive consumption of such drinks lead to long term problems such as diabetes and obesity, immediate consequences of the ‘sugar crash’ will directly affect energy levels and mood. Diet versions of soda’s are not the solution either, as sweeteners have been linked with depression and anxiety. Consider limiting your soda intake and opting for alternatives such as water.
Candy bars and baked goods are another item that contains high-levels of refined sugars, which cause a temporary boost and a plummeting crash. According to Eat This Not That ‘Traditional baked treats like cookies, muffins, cakes, and pies all contain high amounts of refined sugars and saturated oils—all of which lead to someone feeling heavy, lethargic, depressed and in constant mood fluctuation.’ Although, It is perfectly acceptable to indulge, if you have a particular sweet tooth, occasionally try out recipe alternatives with lower levels of sugar and nutritious ingredient alternatives.
We’ve discussed sugars, but foods high in saturated fats, refined carbohydrates and salt, will also have a energy-boosting affect and resulting crash, causing sluggishness and irritability. These types of foods include the beloved French Fry and other fried foods, which will not sustain energy levels throughout the day as complex carbohydrates such as brown rice and whole grains will. Psycom.net wrote: ‘It’s natural to crave sweets, salty stuff, and fried items when you’re feeling down, but clearly research shows us that a healthy diet high in whole foods is better for your mood.’ ‘A study that evaluated the association between fatty acid intake or the use of culinary fats and depression in a Mediterranean population found a detrimental link between trans fatty acid intake and risk for depression.’
Sometimes we simply do not have the time to cook food from scratch and that is okay, but if we are constantly relying on processed goods, it is not only bad for physical health, but also for our mental state. High sodium levels, refined sugars, chemical additives, preservatives and other additives can all be present in processed goods from canned goods to boxed meals. Many additives found in processed foods have been linked to health problems and mental health issues such as depression, and should be eaten in moderation.
Comfort foods can be a wonderful treat and it is not necessary to omit them from your diet. Instead avoid relying on them for your nutrition consumption and consume them in moderation every now and again like a favorite meal.