Students and cooking are two words not commonly associated with each other, nor are students known to eat particularly healthy. We all have to tighten our belts and wallets from time to time and try to live off 25 cent Aldi instant noodles, but the chances are, if you’re eating crap, then you’re going to feel crap.
A lot of what we eat has an impact on our mood, and so a happy tummy means a happy mind. Next time you’re grocery shopping try adding some of these items to your list.
Avocados may be seen as an internet fad with Instagram being spammed with avocado toast, and also the apparent reason millennials can’t afford houses. The fruit is full of healthy fats and boosts mood, and although we think fats are scary, we need them in some amount. The serotonin in avocadoes produces feel-good chemicals in your brain and the potassium content stabilises mood. They’re also extremely versatile and can be added to your diet in different ways, so if you don’t like avocados in their natural form, you could still find something you like.
For savoury cravings, avocado toast seasoned with salt and pepper should hit the spot; it can also be tossed into a salad for light meals, or made into a guilt free chocolate mousse.
We all struggle to get our 5-a-day, but having a banana doesn’t just count as 1-out-of-5, as research suggests that bananas contain dopamine which is a reward chemical. As a result, we feel our mood lift afterwards. The Vitamin B6 content in bananas is also said to help fight depression. All of this doesn’t come as much as a surprise, as the bright yellow fruit is even shaped like a smile.
Bananas can be enjoyed alone as a snack, added to smoothies, or diced over breakfast.
Chocolate is one of the most popular comfort foods, and the one we reach for the most. While eating chocolate can release endorphins and serotonin, this doesn’t mean that we get to go over-board and inhale a tin of Roses. To reap the benefits, dark chocolate is recommended as it usually has more cocoa and less added sugar than milk chocolate; it’s the amount of raw cocoa in the chocolate that helps too and dark chocolate is usually 70% and more cocoa. However, serving sizes should also be kept to a few squares.
Dark chocolate can be enjoyed alone, sprinkled into smoothies, or melted and enjoyed with strawberries and other fruit.
There’s a good reason carbs are a comfort food – oats and similar food release their energy slowly which means that our blood sugar and energy is going to be more stable than sugary foods which release their energy all at once and lead to a crash. Research also suggests that the healthy carbohydrates in oats stimulate the production of serotonin which, as a happy chemical makes us feel good.
You’ll definitely appreciate a warm hearty breakfast of porridge during the winter months, or if you’re not a fan of porridge, a handful of oats can be used to bulk up a smoothie. You can combine dark chocolate, oats, and bananas for 3-ingredient healthy happy cookies too!
Fats and oils are scary food words but we need everything in moderation. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich with the fatty acid Omega- 3. With studies revealing that Omega-3 deficiency is a cause for mood and brain disorders, the fatty acid is necessary for brain health and mood-stability.
Having salmon for dinner or a tuna sandwich for lunch a few times a week is an easy way to get more Omega-3 in your diet.
The spice is commonly used in meals such as Paella to create the yellow colour of the rice, but tests show that saffron can have the same effect as anti-depressants on mood. Although the spice is more expensive than others, for those wishing to achieve a natural boost the spice is perfect as it does not have a strong taste, and therefore does not drastically alter meals. Although a little pricy given the small amount usually sold, it works out cheaper than the likes of CBD oil and medication so it’s worth a shot.
Saffron can be ground into rice dishes and you’ll hardly notice its presence, but should feel the benefits.