Comfort food in uncertain times

8 October, 2020

How what you eat can impact your mood

Let’s face it, 2020 has been a bit rough. January – bushfires across the country. February – torrential rain and flooding. March – oh, just the start of a global pandemic. April onwards – the uncertainty of lockdowns, restrictions on social gatherings, daily infection count numbers.

It’s enough to drive anyone to bury their feelings face first in a bowlful of ice-cream, right? Comfort food is called that for a reason. Food can soothe our ragged emotions and make us feel safe during tumultuous times. And it doesn’t have to mean bingeing on junk food either.

You are what you eat: Good foods for good moods

For years, many of us have instinctively known that what we eat impacts our mood. And according to Food and Mood Centre, a series of studies across the globe have showing that eating a diet rich in colourful fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats is good for mental health – and on the flipside, processed ‘junk’ food can harm your mental health too.

According to Better Health, some of the diets that are most beneficial for mental health are the Mediterranean diet, Norwegian diet and Japanese diet. The components of these diets to look for include:

  • Good healthy fats, like from fish and extra virgin olive oil, for their anti-inflammatory effect
  • Wholegrains high in fibre for promoting good gut bacteria
  • Colourful fruits and vegetables for nutrients and antioxidants
  • Fermented foods for good gut bacteria
  • Nuts, seeds and legumes for plant-based proteins and fibre
  • Plenty of water to stay hydrated and feel alert

If you’re looking for more of a treat beyond these sensible suggestions, dark chocolate and coffee have also been shown to include mood-boosting compounds.

The power of noodle soup

One of the most comforting foods we know is a good noodle soup. Across cultures, a noodle soup is a regular go-to to warm the body and soothe a frazzled soul. Whether you prefer the simplicity of a European-style clear broth, a rich ramen, a spiced pho or any other variation, noodle soups spell comfort.

If you have a cold, the broth of a noodle soup helps to relieve congestion, and the heat of the soup dilates blood vessels, which in turn speeds up movement of mucus so you can breath better. Plus you get added hydration, which is always of benefit. Luckily, you’re blessed with options to grab an awesome bowl of soup around Chatswood. Some of our favourites are Ippudo, Chang ‘An Noodle and 1Ton.

Sharing the connection

Of course, some of the best meals aren’t about the food but about who you share it with. Connecting with friends and family over meals is a great way to improve our mental health. Regular mealtimes with others provide a rhythm to our lives and help us to feel secure, as well as providing opportunities for socialising. If that’s not a great reason to sit down at the dinner table as a family or to get a group of friends together for a meal at your favourite restaurant, then we don’t know what is.