How does food affect your mood?

Table full of fruit and vegetables

The relationship between our diet and our mental health is complex. What we eat and drink affects how we feel, think and behave.

There is no specific diet to treat depression but eating more of some foods and less or none of others can help manage your symptoms by improving your mood, giving you more energy and helping you to think more clearly.

Studies have found that healthy eating patterns, such as the Mediterranean diet (lots of veggies, seafood and herbs), are associated with better mental health than “unhealthy” eating patterns, such as the Western diet (processed meat, pre-packaged foods, high fat and dairy products).

The key to a healthy diet is to eat the right amount of calories for how active you are so you balance the energy you consume with the energy you use. You should eat a wide range of foods to make sure you’re getting a balanced diet and your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs.

Tips for Healthier Eating and Better Mental Health

These are just a few tips you should focus on to boost your physical wellbeing and mental health with food:

1. Base your meals on higher fibre starchy carbohydrates:

This includes; brown rice and starchy, quinoa, millet, beets and sweet potatoes.

2. Eat lots of fruit and vegetables:

It’s recommended that you eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and veg every day. They can be fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.

3. Eat lean proteins such as chicken, meat, fish, eggs, soybeans, nuts and seeds:

Protein supports a healthy metabolism in a number of fashions, including by providing of B vitamins and stimulating muscle growth.

4. Cut down on saturated fat and sugar:

There are 2 main types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Too much saturated fat can increase the amount of cholesterol in the blood, which increases your risk of developing heart disease. On average, men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day. On average, women should have no more than 20g of saturated fat a day. Regularly consuming foods and drinks high in sugar increases your risk of obesity and tooth decay.

5. Eat less salt, no more than 6g a day for adults:

Eating too much salt can raise your blood pressure. People with high blood pressure are more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

6. Stay hydrated:

You need to drink plenty of fluids to stop you getting dehydrated. The government recommends drinking 6 to 8 glasses every day. This is in addition to the fluid you get from the food you eat.  All non-alcoholic drinks count, but water, lower fat milk and lower sugar drinks, including tea and coffee, are healthier choices.

7. Don’t skip breakfast!

Some people skip breakfast because they think it’ll help them lose weight. But a healthy breakfast high in fibre and low in fat, sugar and salt can form part of a balanced diet, and can help you get the nutrients you need for good health. So, eat your brekkie! It’s important to get the day off to a good start.

If you’re stuck on how to achieve a healthy diet, the NHS website has more information in their Eatwell Guide.

You can also check out our free online Food & Mood Workshop where you can learn new skills and gain knowledge about what we are putting in our bodies and how it can affect our mental health.

Related articles

Step One Charity New Logo

Step One Charity unveils fresh new look to reflect commitment to wellbeing across Devon

Introducing Step One Charity's refreshed brand identity to better reflect our mission of supporting individuals with mental health challenges, learning disabilities, and neurodiversity across Devon.

A brighter path to wellbeing: Introducing Step One Charity’s new brand

Discover Step One's refreshed look and learn how you can support our mission!
Person skydiving

Skydive for Step One Charity in 2024!

Take your fundraising to new heights by taking on our skydive challenge with Skydive Buzz! Jump for free when you raise £395 for Step One Charity.
Photo of woman smiling and a quote that reads: My favourite thing about being a support worker is making a difference to people’s lives. Giving people the help and support that I wish my mum and nan could have had.

Celebrating 10 years of Charlotte, Support Worker at Cypress Hospital

Driven by a deep personal connection to the cause, Charlotte has dedicated her career to making a positive difference in the lives of others. In this short Q&A, we delve into Charlotte’s journey with Step One Charity.
Person signing their name on an official document.

Make a Will Week: Top tips for writing your Will

Have you thought about writing your will but you’re not sure where to start? Often the process can simply be broken down into four practical questions which form the basis of any will.
Three people embracing eachother and smiling, surrounded by Christmas inspired DIY crafts.

How your donations can make a Difference This Christmas

Donations during the festive season allow us to continue supporting adults over 18 in Devon to manage their mental health, achieve employment goals and live more independently.
A man smiling and a quote reading: Make a Will Week: Andrew's experience

Make a Will Week: Andrew’s experience

Last year Andrew, made his will through Step One Charity’s Make a Will Week and made use of some of the personalised accessibility adaptations that our partner solicitors offer. Here, Andrew tells us about his experience.
A couple smiling outdoors

Make a Will Week: Michael and Noni’s experience

Read about Michael and Noni’s experience taking part in Step One Charity’s Make a Will Week.

Getting to know our new Psychologist: A Q&A with Lindsay Jones

With over 30 years of experience in the field of mental health, Lindsay’s impressive career has covered various sectors, including community, inpatient, and forensic settings.
©️ Copyright 2024 – Step One. Registered Charity Number: 235434 Company Number 393477 in England. Stratus House, Emperor Way, Exeter Business Park, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3QS. - Web Design by The Ambitions Agency