When we say “diet”, what comes to mine?
We would have previously said diet relates to the way in which we eat to manage our physique (not just weight loss).
But, have you ever thought about dieting for happiness? Recent research suggests that your mood is heavily impacted by the food you put into your body.
A great example of this is sugar. When you eat too much chocolate your body creates a temporary “high” by releasing endorphins. In a matter of moments, the sugar is processed and the dreaded crash hits, causing your mood to take a dramatic turn.
Happiness lies in nature
One UK study analyzed the daily fruit and vegetable intake of 80,000 people while monitoring mood. Researchers concluded that the highest satisfaction and happiness scores were linked to individuals with the greatest fruit and vegetable intake.
Turns out, the nutrients that are good for our bodies are also good for our minds. Many nutrients are involved in achieving this mood-boost, but one key essential nutrient is Vitamin C as it assists the production of our happiness hormone, dopamine. Most fruit and vegetables also contain high doses of antioxidants that act to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Less inflammation equals lower levels of stress and anxiety – nutrient-induced zen mode.
Another study investigated our sense of purpose in life (eudaimonia) in relation to fruit and vegetable intake. Subjects reported two behaviors; creativity and curiosity to have significantly increased with greater daily fruit and vegetable intake. So, that little bowl of fruit sitting on your desk isn’t just for decoration, it could actually help with your new creation.
Are fruit and vegetables really the answer to happiness?
Couldn't our mood just be affecting our food choices, not the other way around?
Research shows that being in a more positive mood when making dietary choices allows the individual to better assess long-term health goals rather than making short-term indulgent choices. If we feel good we are more likely to make that fruit salad instead of reaching for that chocolate brownie for a quick hit of endorphins.
So, which one comes first? Research shows that an elevated mood exists the day after high fruit and vegetable intake, suggesting that the nutrient boost also has a positive impact on our mood.
If you’re looking to be more positive in life don’t forget to eat your fruit and vegetables!
How much should we be eating?
Like us, you probably grew up hearing that we should aim to eat 3 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day. This should be treated as a base-level requirement for a healthy lifestyle, not the maximum.
Researchers have found that 7-8 servings of fruit and vegetables each day is linked to a positive change in mood. If you want to be more than “normal”, up your intake and feel the benefits for yourself. As a rule of thumb, don’t go too heavy on sweet fruits and lean toward leafy greens if you’re looking to reduce calories.
If you’re wanting to dig deeper into how a plant-based diet can positively impact your mood then check out this video from one of the world’s leading physicians.