We’ve all felt a bit sad, angry or fed up and reached for a big, fat plate of comfort food. But alas, it’s all a big, fat misunderstanding.
Far from cheering you up, high-fat treats actually make you more depressed than you were before.
A new study by Louisiana State University study, published in the current issue of Biological Psychiatry (and involving moving poo from one bowel to another), shows that high-fat diets alter behaviour - increasing anxiety, impairing memory, and causing repetitive behaviours.
It’s not even just what you eat – it’s how you eat it too.
“Skipping meals or eating irregularly as well as eating a lot of sugar will lower your mood,” says nutritionist Juliette Kellow.
“The main thing [to avoid bad moods] is to always eat regularly – ideally three meals a day with snacks in between if you need them. Eating breakfast is also important as you won’t have eaten for 10 or 12 hours so you need something to push up your blood sugar levels to give you energy.
“It’s exactly the same as running a car, you need fuel to run it and make sure it has enough energy.”
But like a car, the wrong fuel can soon lead to a breakdown. Here are four treats to avoid if you want to keep your mood up.
Research by Norway’s Bergen University found a strong link between people consuming drinks that are high in sugar and feelings of isolation and loneliness.
So it’s not just the fat in your ‘comforting’ fast-food burger and fries making you sad, it’s the sugar in your over-sized meal-deal fizzy pop too.
2. Refined carbohydrates
Even if it seems like you’re going for the ‘healthy’ option and digging into a bowl of rice or pasta instead of a bowl of chips, chances are, you’re not.
A study by Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate a lot of carbohydrates were more likely to be diagnosed with depression.
White carbohydrates are highly refined, meaning they’ve lost most of their fibre, and when they’re digested, they turn very quickly to sugars.
“Always choose brown over white in terms of pasta, bread, rice and cereals,” advises nutritionist Kellow.
Most of us are guilty of craving something stronger after a bad day, and one drink to take the edge off isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
But it’s much better to stop at one.
“Alcohol is the big one in lowering your mood, as it’s a depressant,” says Kellow, “especially after you’ve had three or four. Make sure you drink no more than the recommended daily allowance.
“Sugary drinks are the same – they’re a short-term solution leading to a long-term problem.”
Another liquid crutch; many of us turn to caffeine as a comforter. So much so that ‘having a restorative cuppa’ is practically in our DNA.
Again, within reason, it’s OK, but, warns Kellow, “while some coffee gives you a boost, a large amount can make you feel really jittery”
Do some some foods make you more sad than others? Share your experiences in the Comments box below.