How much does food affect your mood?

Of all the amazingly tantalizing parts of travelling, for me, the best bit is tasting the local cuisine of my latest haunt. This past week I have been exploring the stunning cobblestone streets of Antigua, Guatemala, enjoying everything from street food, to local casseroles, to fancy fine dining. All of which were outstanding, by the way.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past five months away, it’s that travelling takes a massive toll on your diet. Especially when unprocessed whole grains, lots of fruit and vegetables, and really high quality meats and seafood take pride of place on the menu of my life. The problem is, of course, is that when you’re at the mercy of other cultures, other cuisines, and other kitchen hands, you’re not necessarily going to be eating what’s good for you.

I’m fine with that for a few days, there’s something so fun and exciting about the entire ritual of going out to dinner, but over the course of the past week, I found a massive change in both my mood, my energy levels, and my clear-headedness.

There have been plenty of studies which have proven the relationship between eating a diet high in salt, refined grains and sugar, and an increased sense of lethargy, weight gain, and even, in extreme cases, depression, but it was shocking to me how much my body hated me for eating corn tortillas made from refined ingredients, an abundance of cheese, and salty foods – to put it kindly, it was kicking me in the guts daily. I struggled to get out of bed, and felt tired despite sleeping more than my 8 hours. I was bloated. Blocked. And despite being high on life thanks to the energy of Antigua, I definitely wasn’t feeling high in energy.

Since returning to New York and excitedly digging into fresh greens, salads, and of course, our famous chicken and curried egg sambos as well as lots of raw foods, muesli and other much-loved foods in our household, I’ve noticed a MASSIVE change in the way I feel, act, react, and bounce out of bed. It’s astonishing, really.

Here’s the visual of those chicken and curried egg sambos…

I guess food really is a key piece in the happiness puzzle, and one I intend on keeping with me all the time. Maybe you should, too.

Tell me Happies…

Do you notice a change in your moods when you eat badly?

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8 comments

  1. Steph · October 6, 2011

    I am exactly the same! Even one week of “crap” food and it takes me a week to recover. Yaz – I noticed, either here or on Primped, that you don’t drink coffee – can you cover that for us? How did you give it up? Why did you give it up? What did you replace it with? I’m trying to kick the habit (for health reasons) but I can’t seem to break it.

  2. Yaz Turker · October 6, 2011

    Hey Steph, 99% of the time I don’t drink coffee, but that said, I did actually have a few cups in Guatemala funnily enough. That said, it absolutely does NOT agree with me. I get so jittery, sick in the stomach, anxious…all things I do not enjoy. I can write a full post on it tomorrow if you like – talk about some ways to kick the habit, why I gave it up and what to replace it with. What do you think? Sound good? Yx

    • Steph · October 6, 2011

      That’d be awesome!!! Thanks Yaz. Yay. Looking forward to it.

  3. casey · October 6, 2011

    Hi Yaz
    Glad to see you are back! Hope you had a great time minus the lack of access to your preferred foods. I was just wondering, how did you discover/develop the approach to eating/nutrition that you adopt (ie do you have a preferred nutritionist whose advice you follow or from reading or just from eating and seeing what suits)? Do you follow a particualr type of eating style/plan eg dairy and gluten free? Love to hear your response when you get a moment!

    Take care

  4. lolabees · October 6, 2011

    Without a doubt! It can be so hard to eat well on vacation. And above all of that, I find that if my food doesn’t taste good, I don’t have as much fun. Often times when I find a food or restaurant that I love, I keep going back because I don’t want to risk a bad meal.

  5. Yaz Turker · October 6, 2011

    Hi Casey, great comment. Over the years I’ve been told by different health professionals to avoid gluten, so did a gluten-free diet, and then tried low carb, low calorie, low fat and many other fad diets along the way. Not because I was ever really overweight, I guess it’s just because I’m a girl and felt the need to try everything. But over the past 2 years, I have started reading books, and learning from my husband who has an insane knowledge of health and nutrition, as well as discovering for myself, and have found that following these strict diets really isn’t the answer to true health. Plus, we’re all so different that we can’t expect to eat the same thing and get the same result. Gosh, I could go into so much detail about this, I think I need to post about it and answer your questions in full. I’ll do that after I answer Steph’s question, if you like.

    And Lolabees, I’m totally with you on that, I love making tasty healthy food, and it’s sooo annoying wasting the pleasure of eating out on a bad meal.

  6. casey · October 6, 2011

    That sounds perfect, I am also really interested in your response to Steph’s question!

    I definitely agree everyone isnt going to get the same results eating via the same eating styles/plans but I think a lot of people dont realise that – as simple as it sounds!

    It is great however, when people start seeing food as nutrition and nourishment opposed to ‘what can I eat for the least amount of calories to fill me up the most’

    Look forward to your upcoming posts πŸ™‚

  7. Nadia · October 30, 2011

    Yes, the food I eat totally affects my mood. I have recently cut all gluten out of my diet because it gives me huge anxiety. It took ages to figure that out, but I’m feeling so much better for it. Coffee also makes me really lethargic and not depressed, but not happy either. Eat for happiness I say! Foods that your mind and body love.

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