About RTÉ Television
The Afternoon Show
The Afternoon ShowRTÉ One, Weekdays, 4.00pm

Super Foods - Mood Foods

Wednesday, 24 May 2006


Eating the right foods can improve your health and moods according to many health experts. Mood swings, panic attacks and anxiety can be alleviated by certain foods. Cutting down on food stressors and increasing the amount of supporters has a beneficial effect on mood.

Stressors include sugar, caffeine, alcohol and chocolate. Supporters include water, vegetables, fruit and oil-rich fish. It has been shown that eating favourite foods can stimulate the release of ß-endorphins, which are known to enhance moods.

About Alli Godbold
Alli Godbold is a nutritional therapist and has been in practice for ten years.  Alli has a psychology degree and a diploma from London's well respected Institute of Optimum Nutrition; she is a member of the British Association of Nutritional Therapists.
Alli frequently gives radio interviews, makes numerous television appearances (Sky  News, BBC 24, This Morning, CBBC), and is often quoted in magazines(Zest, Slimming, Closer, New Woman) see her quoted in this month's You Are What You Eat.
Alli works as a nutritionist for the popular luxury spa holiday company In-Spa, and enjoys traveling to Ibiza, Morrocco and Spain giving nutrition advice to guests.  This month she will be talking alongside top chef Alan Wichart at Divertimenti in W. London, and also at a tasting evening at Gordon Ramsay's Boxwood Café. Alli has recently given talks for Slimming Magazine and Top Sante Magazine at the Vitality Show, Olympia.  
. Can foods change your mood?
Most definitely. A poor diet low in nutrients and a diet which does not contain good quality proteins will mean that your body is unable to produce the neurotransmitters (brain messengers) responsible for a feeling of wellbeing.
. What foods are good for alleviating stress and anxiety?
With stress and anxiety you must make sure have good blood sugar control - that means eating a diet which includes good quality protein, pulses, lots of vegetables, some wholegrains and some essential fats from nuts, seeds, oils and oily fish. 
. Foods to avoid are the foods which cause blood sugar imbalance for example high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. (White and processed foods), also important to limit stimulants such as tea, coffee and alcohol as these cause surges of adrenalin which also cause blood sugar problems. Low blood sugar from poor diet will make you feel stressed and irritable.
. What foods are good for depression?
Eat foods rich in tryptophan essential for making neurotransmitter serotonin - the feel-good neurotransmitter. Tryptophan is found in fish, chicken, turkey, cheese, beans, tofu and eggs, pumpkin seeds and almonds. You would need a selection of these foods in your diet each day. Protein foods also important for making neurotransmitter Dopamine, this is the neuron that makes you feel motivated.
. Which foods are good for inducing wellbeing?
The protein foods containing necessary amino acids to make neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine. The ideal diet for well-being is a diet which contains lots of non-starchy vegetables, some wholegrains and pulses, seeds and nuts, good quality protein - chicken and fish, tofu, seed oils and some fruit.  The ideal diet would avoid large amounts of tea, coffee, alcohol, sugar and refined carbohydrates.
. Pre menstrual women often crave chocolate as they may be lacking Magnesium which important for hormone balance,  chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, but unfortunately also full of sugar which makes cravings worse. Which is never a good thing as it causes weight gain, feelings of guilt etc.  a better source of magnesium can be found from nuts, seeds, wholegrains, dark green leafy vegetables, millet.

Listen to Your Cravings
Craving Marmite or liver could indicate body needs B vitamins.  But usually cravings are for sugar and stodge - as result of poor blood sugar balance - then need to switch to healthy balanced diet and cravings disappear.
Much of the food-mood research focuses on serotonin, a neurotransmitter found throughout the nervous system. High carbohydrates and low protein increase the synthesis of serotonin in the brain. Tryptophan speeds the process along. Serotonin is best known for inducing calm and relaxation. Oysters, turkey, squids, banana, plum, clams and milk are all foods with strong serotonin links.
Many of us will gravitate to carbohydrate-rich foods bread and pasta when we are feeling down. People with seasonal affect disorder, premenstrual syndrome, perimenopause and nicotine withdrawal will also tend to dive into serotonin-boosting carbohydrates. Researchers find that dieters often get depressed two weeks into a low-carbohydrate diet because their serotonin levels are down.
Food can also bring us greater energy and motivation. High protein foods like cottage cheese, yogurt, peas, eggs and nuts help us move think and respond more quickly. These proteins break down into amino acids, such as tyrosine, which are known to increase dopamine and the 'get up and go'.