Did you realise that one of the main ways to boost mental wellbeing is through the food and drink you put in your body? What we eat directly affects the way our brains work and ultimately, our mood. As members of a unit in the armed forces, your colleagues will be relying on you to be prepared for whatever happens in the field. This means that we need to be battle fit, not just physically –  but mentally too.

At Evolve Military College, we’re passionate about preparing our learners for a career the armed forces both physically and mentally, so we’ve produced a guide to getting the most out of your meals to boost your mood.

Eat regularly

Every get “hangry?” Going too long without food can make us grumpy and feel down. This is due to our blood sugar levels dropping. It’s often difficult to recognise that this is happening until you are feeling the effects, so combat this with regular nutritional tope ups throughout the day. In essence, don’t let yourself get to the “absolutely starving” stage!

It is key though, to eat the right foods. Munching on too many sweet or snack foods leads to mood swings and affects concentration because they cause blood sugar to rise and fall too quickly.

So, it’s best to limit the chocolate bars, sweets, fast foods and fizzy drinks – instead, opt for a banana with it’s feel-good enhancing nutrients and still or sparking water for rehydration.

Foods which help benefit mental health if eaten regularly include:

  • Oily fish like salmon, trout and tuna improve brain cell structure.
  • *Wholegrains such as wheat, corn, brown rice, oats and even popcorn! (If tucking into a portion of brown rice seems unappealing, try mixing half a portion with half a portion of white.)
  • Dark chocolate has properties that improve blood flow to the brain. It might just be coincidence but places which have the most Nobel Prize winners also eat the most chocolate! Just bear in mind that not all chocolate is the same-milk and white varieties don’t provide the same benefits as the dark stuff or cocoa. And a couple of squares (70% cocoa) is enough-no need to polish off the whole bar!
  • Berries-the natural pigments which give berries their colour also improve memory. Eat the rainbow for full impact – strawberries, blueberries, raspberries with a handful of mango and grapes thrown in are great.
  • Chicken and Turkey contain a nutrient which can help reduce symptoms of depression and help you avoid feeling low in the first place.
  • Leafy green veg are packed with B Vitamins which maintain the feel-good hormone serotonin, produced in your gut. It makes sense that the workings of your digestive system don’t just help you digest food but also guide your emotions.So serotonin=calmer, happier state of mind with less anxiety.
  • *Walnuts are good for improving our ability to learn, think, remember, problem solve, make decisions and pay attention.

Don’t forget to drink!

Water that is! Otherwise you might start to experience headaches caused by dehydration. This increases feelings of tiredness and has a negative effect on our memory and attention span as well as altering our mood.

*It’s fine to treat yourself to steak, curry or pizza occasionally but think of it this way; your brain is like an expensive car-it functions best when it only gets premium fuel. The equivalent for humans is nutritious food.

*People with allergies should avoid known triggers