Working from home during the pandemic has wrought havoc with a lot of healthy eating habits. It’s harder to shop safely, and minimizing time in the grocery store may mean people have stocked up on shelf-stable highly processed foods. What’s more, lots of us have been responding to stress by eating sweet or salty treats that are appealing in the short run but may not benefit our health over the long term. Are there ways you can improve your mood with food?
We don’t usually connect nutritional wellbeing and mental health, but our guest, psychiatrist, nutrition specialist and chef Uma Naidoo, MD, thinks we should. Changing dietary habits can have a profound impact on our emotional status. How did Dr. Naidoo come to follow such an unusual career path?
There are intimate connections between the digestive tract and the central nervous system. What fuels this gut-brain romance, and what disrupts it? When people are eating not from hunger but from stress, how can they interrupt that behavior? It can be especially challenging in the middle of the pandemic. Dr. Naidoo discusses foods that can help reduce depression and anxiety so you can improve your mood with food. High-fiber foods, such as an easy lentil and spinach soup she describes, can be particularly helpful.
Food can impact your cognitive capacity as well as your emotional condition. Surprisingly, spices may have the power to boost memory.
If you are a beginning or hesitant cook, Dr. Naidoo offers encouragement. Learn how you can improve your mood with food.
Uma Naidoo, MD, MBCHB, is Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. A board-certified psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutrition specialist, she also serves on the faculty at Harvard Medical School.