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Food And Mood

Food can have an effect on how you are feeling.

Food plays an important part in keeping you healthy, if you eat a balanced, healthy diet you are more likely to get all the nutrients your body needs to function properly, plus there are certain nutrients that can help you feel less irritable, tired, lacking in energy and sad.

These include iron, B vitamins and Selenium. There is also a chemical that your brain produces when given the right food called Serotonin which can make you feel happy.

Feel-good chemicals

Serotonin is a feel good chemical produced by your brain. For this chemical to be produced, you need to provide your brain with the correct fuel.

Foods rich in carbohydrates including fruit and vegetables, rice, pasta, wholegrain cereals, potatoes, bread and dairy foods, like milk, all help your brain to produce Serotonin. By eating regular, balanced meals containing carbohydrates, you are on your way to increasing your levels.

Foods rich in B vitamins can reduce the risk of you feeling tired, sad and bad-tempered; these vitamins are water soluble, which means that your body can’t store them for long, so you have to eat them regularly.

Good sources are meat, egg, milk and cereals. As most cereals are fortified with B vitamins, it’s another good reason to have breakfast every day.

As tough as iron

Iron rich foods are important to help your body function properly; iron is carried around the body in your blood it helps your body get the oxygen it needs. If your body is lacking in iron, you may become anaemic, feel tired, not be able to think, feel irritable and have no energy.

Good sources of iron are red meat, chicken and fish. Don’t worry if you are a vegetarian, as you can still have iron rich foods like peas, beans and lentils. Dried fruit like apricots and cereals are often fortified with iron, so check out your cereals to see if they contain added iron.

The mineral Selenium can help improve your mood. Foods to try are fish, meat, low fat milk, cereals and Brazil nuts. You only need to eat 2 Brazil nuts a day to give your body all the Selenium it needs for the day!

But what about chocolate?

There is no evidence to prove that chocolate contains an ingredient that can affect your mood, however for some people eating chocolate is classed as a reward, such as doing well in an exam, or when feeling sad you may eat chocolate to cheer you up.

The way we look at chocolate makes it feel like a prize or a special treat, which has a physiological effect on our brain.

How to get help

If you have any more questions on this area or would like to speak to somebody about this topic, have a look at the links or search for your local services in the blue box below. Alternatively you can always contact your school nurse.

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