Food and mood

How can food affect mood?

Knowing what foods we should and shouldn’t be eating can be really confusing, especially when it feels like the advice changes regularly. However, evidence suggests that as well as affecting our physical health, what we eat may also affect the way we feel.

Improving your diet may help to:

  • improve your mood
  • give you more energy
  • help you think more clearly.

How can I eat more healthily?

Eating a healthy diet can do a lot to improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Use these tips to start making positive changes in the way you eat.

Take small steps

Making changes can be really tough – especially if you're feeling low. It might help to start by making small changes rather than changing your whole diet suddenly.

You might not feel better right away, and there might be times when you feel frustrated. But try to keep going! Even making very small changes can make a difference in the long term.

Plan ahead

Finding the time to eat well can often be really difficult. If you have times when you're feeling well and enjoying preparing food, try making some extra meals to store. You could make enough to last for several days, and freeze them in portions to use at times when you can't face cooking.

Share meals and cooking

Preparing your own food might feel daunting, but cooking with others can be a lot of fun. Ask your family, friends, colleagues, or other social groups to join in – they might be very happy to plan, cook and eat a meal together with you.

Keep a food diary

Write down what you eat and make notes about how you're feeling. Over time you might work out how particular foods:

  • make you feel worse, or better
  • keep you awake or help you
  • sleep.
  • Plus it can be reassuring to track improvements in your wellbeing.

Take care of yourself

We can often put a lot of pressure on ourselves to eat a healthy diet, but it's also important to enjoy the food you eat and not be too hard on yourself.

Remember that other factors can help improve your mental health as well, such as:

  • getting physically active (especially outdoors to boost your vitamin D levels)
  • getting enough sleep
  • maintaining good relationships
  • limiting the amount of alcohol you drink.

Download our information: Food and Mood

Food and Mood

This resource explores the relationship between what you eat and how you feel, including tips on how to incorporate healthy eating into your life.

Eating problems

At some point, most people feel they need to lose some weight and consider a diet. When these feelings become so strong that they dominate a person's life, they may be developing an eating disorder.

Eating problems most commonly occur in young women between the ages of 15 - 25 but it's important to remember that anyone can develop one. Eating problems can start for various reasons such as stress, low self-esteem or emotional issues and can leave a person with a distorted body image.

Find out more about eating problems