Food and Mood: Finding What Works

Kat Nicholls
By Kat Nicholls,
updated on Apr 2, 2024

Two people are sat at a table, one is feeding the other apples as they work on a laptop.

How does food impact our mood and what changes can we make to our diets to support mental health?

When it comes to mental health and well-being, we always encourage a holistic approach. This means looking at all the factors involved, including what you eat. In today’s podcast, I’m joined by nutritional therapist Laura Bryan and freelance PR and marketing consultant Bryony Partridge to learn more about how the food we eat can impact our mood.

From understanding our gut microbiome to the joy of a cinnamon roll, we cover everything you need to know about food and mood. Listen below or wherever you get your podcasts.


Edited for clarity and brevity.

Kat: Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Happiful: Finding What Works. Today we're talking about food and mood, exploring the link between what we eat and how we feel. Helping me navigate this topic are my guests, Laura and Bryony. Laura, can you introduce yourself and tell us about your work?

Laura: Yes, of course. I'm Laura Bryan, a nutritional therapist and master mindset coach. My business is Mind Nourishing, specialising in the link between food and mood, so this is the perfect podcast for me! This is everything that I love. I work with one-on-one clients and do corporate presentations to support staff with mental health issues at work. That's me.

Kat: Thank you. Yeah, perfect topic for you, and it's great that you do corporate work and speak to employees. That must be really nice.

Laura: Yeah, it's super fun and works really well because you can speak to lots of different people at the same time and I feel like you get quite a lot of impact. I see a few light bulb moments when we talk about how eating impacts mental health.

Kat: I can totally imagine that. I think listeners will have similar moments after this episode as well. Thank you. And Bryony, would you like to introduce yourself?

Bryony: Sure. I'm Bryony Partridge, a freelance PR and marketing consultant. I work with different clients, but I particularly love working with people in the arts and culture sector and small businesses. Food is a big passion of mine. I'm excited about this conversation and eager to hear Laura's wisdom. I have questions for you, Laura!

Laura: I'll try and be wise, Bryony! 

Kat: Thank you. That’s what I always love doing on this podcast, I love having someone with expert insight and then someone with lived experience. It's so nice to bring them together!

Let's start by talking about your personal relationship with food and mood, Bryony. Where have you noticed the link between the two and how has it impacted your life?

Bryony: Yeah, sure. As I mentioned, I love food. It's something I get excited about, talk to people about, and research recipes for. I have a very engaged and positive relationship with food, I’d say. When it comes to food and mood, there are a few interesting things I’m aware of. I know I can get instant joy from certain foods, like a cinnamon roll after a swim or the comfort of a roast dinner. They’re the things I associate initially when it comes to food and mood because food can have that comfort and mood-enhancing ability.

I've also noticed, and perhaps Laura - you will speak to this a bit more, is the sustained nutritional benefits of food and how it affects my mood. On days that I’ve eaten a really varied diet, lots of vegetables and fruit, and regular meals, I definitely notice that I have more energy and a stable mood. 

But I think one of the most important things for me with food and mood, and I know Kat, you spoke on a previous episode with Kaysha Thomas about this, is the joy of connecting with other people over food and how that can enhance your mood. So I wholeheartedly agree with what you and Kaysha discussed about the great connector of food. Cooking for friends and family or sharing food photos with my partner and getting really excited about that really lifts my mood. It's not just about what I'm eating, but the connective ability of food with people in my life.

Kat: Oh, I really love that and resonate with the enthusiasm for food as well. It's something my mum and I definitely share. We always ask each other about our meals when we've been out somewhere. The first question is always, "What did you have to eat?" That is the first thing we'll talk about. Having that connectivity is really important. I'll definitely link that podcast episode in the show notes because there's a crossover between the joy of eating and how that can lift your mood. Thank you for sharing. 

Laura, can you tell us about your personal relationship with food and mood and what led you to work in this area?

Laura: Yeah, unsurprisingly, like you both, I'm a total foodie, but actually weirdly my start with nutrition and being really interested in food came from probably quite a negative mental health standpoint. 

So I remember at a very early age, probably around 11 or 12, feeling bombarded with messages about how I should eat and being insecure about how I looked. My relationship with food probably didn't support my mental health. It was all about calorie restriction, and even though I love food now, then it was something I would worry about when going out to eat because I wouldn't know what would be available.

Because I was a little bit obsessed and thought I knew about nutrition from my own Google searches, I went to uni and did a degree in exercise, nutrition, and health. Thankfully, I started learning more about nutrition and how it impacted my energy. I learned how to put healthier meals together, and that stress around food subsided. It wasn't until I started working in nutrition that I became more interested in the link between food and mood. 

I was working in a deprived community for a housing association, trying to get people more active and eating better. But what I was really shocked about with some of these families was how they were hugely impacted by mental health issues. Parents couldn't leave the house, so I was trying to organise them to come on a trip with their family, but it was just not going to happen because of mental health issues, or it could be that kids were really anxious or had issues with sadness. 

Through conversations with these families, I became very aware that their diet was limited in terms of nutrition. Vegetables came on a Sunday lunch but not much anywhere else. When I was eating a colourful, diverse diet, I felt so much better. I just had this gut instinct that there must have been more around the lack of nutrition and this huge impact on mental health.

So that's why I went to uni again, did a master's in nutritional therapy, and set up my business because I knew there was something there; I'm going to research it. Thankfully, there was lots of information about the link between food and mood. That's why I am so passionate about the work I do now. Often, what I love is that when it comes to food, especially around mental health, we've all admitted here that we love talking about food. Sometimes, if someone is struggling with their mental health, the last thing they want to speak about is how sad or depressed they are. But talking about food is often that connection or about enjoyment. It's a really nice route in to support people if they're not feeling comfortable about talking about their mental health.

Kat: That's an interesting idea about food being that route in. It can be an easy way to start talking about things, then you can get into slightly deeper topics later. Thank you for sharing your personal relationship with food too. Listeners of the podcast will know I experienced an eating disorder when I was younger, and I think that's partly why I'm so enthusiastic about food now. I restricted myself for so long that I revel in the joy of eating now. It'd be interesting to hear if listeners have experienced the same, had difficult relationships with food in the past, and moved through it to love it more. Thank you for that. 

We're going to move on to the science behind all this, everything you learned at university Laura and the research. Can you tell us more about the link between food and mood and how it all works?

Laura: Yeah, totally. This is stuff I love talking about, so thank you for asking. When I started researching more during my Masters and getting more information, the conversation around gut health kept popping up. I became more interested in that topic. Since I graduated about six years ago, the information we know about gut health has grown. 

For listeners who haven't heard much about the gut microbiome, there are hundreds of trillions of bacteria that live all over our body, specifically within our gut. These bacteria have a huge influence on how we feel, potentially even our habits, behaviours, and maybe our personality. And it sparked this interest, like, I know these are having so much of an impact on me, how they are having an impact on my mental wellbeing? 

What we actually know is that these bacteria are really involved in creating a lot of our feel-good neurotransmitters. For example, 95% of serotonin, our happy hormone, is created in the gut with the help of these incredible bacteria. Other neurotransmitters like dopamine, that feel-good feeling when we maybe have a piece of birthday cake or our favourite coffee, and GABA as well, which is that really lovely calming chill-out feeling. We know that a lot of these hormones are created within the gut by this bacteria, but now we are learning more and more about the impact that what's in the gut doesn't necessarily stay in the gut.

We are learning more about how our gut is actually really chatty and chats to our brain all the time through what we know as the vagus nerve, which is basically like a motorway between our gut and our brain. Scientists have found that, incredibly, people who live the happiest and longest lives tend to have the healthiest and most diverse gut bacteria, whereas vice versa, people who often struggle with things like depression tend to have less diverse gut bacteria. 

The thought is now, and there's loads of research that supports this, that yes, there's a variety of different things that can impact mental health, but our gut bacteria can play a real pivotal role in how we feel because the bacteria in our gut is constantly talking to our brain. If our gut isn't in a good place, those messages are potentially going up being like, something's not right, I'm not happy, something needs to change. That's why we can positively use food as a way of influencing our gut bacteria to also influence our mental health.

So that is one of the key things that I found and was so interested in, especially because sometimes I feel like when people are struggling with mental health issues, everything feels very much out of their control. It has to be potentially what their GP can refer them to or the groups they may have to go to for support. I think sometimes there's something nice in the fact that we have to eat multiple times a day and potentially we have opportunities every time we eat to support healthier gut environments so that can positively influence our brain and mental health as well.

Kat: That's so true. And I think something I'm learning, and the more I do these podcasts, is the need for a well-rounded approach to mental health. It's not just about going to the GP and getting instructions, and as you said, sometimes things can feel a little bit out of your control. Being able to take what you can into control, changing your gut bacteria, doing things like that, making things easier for you to cope with the day-to-day by changing small things like your meals can be really big. It's really interesting. Thank you for sharing. I had heard of the vagus nerve before, but I must admit I hadn't realised it was actually connected to your gut, so that was really interesting to know.

Laura: Yeah, it's really interesting, and we know that between the brain and the gut – we often think it's the brain doing most of the talking, but actually 80% of the messages are from our gut to our brain. I think that's why a lot of people are calling the gut the second brain because it is actually influencing so much, and it's exciting that we don't know everything yet about the gut. We will be learning more and more as the research comes out.

Kat: Yeah, it's amazing. The body is still a slightly undiscovered mystery. Thank you so much. Bryony, I wonder if any of that chimed with you in terms of what you find works for you to support your mood when it comes to eating and nutrition?

Bryony: Yeah, so firstly on the subject of the gut and the microbiome, I find it fascinating as well. It was brilliant to hear all of that from Laura because it's something that I read in a book a while ago. There was a great book by a German or Dutch doctor, and it was all about the guts and not just the microbiome, but your whole digestive system and the impact it has on your body and, as you say, Laura, your brain and your mood as well. It was brilliant. I'll have to dig it out. 

I had a question as well about that because I've got an awareness of eating in a diverse way to help your microbiome. But for me, I sometimes go to, oh, that means fermented foods or certain things like kimchi or kefir yoghurt, or whatever it might be. But my question, and then I will answer your question, Kat, is it just about those kinds of foods or is it broader than that? How else do you support a healthy gut with your diet?

Laura: Yeah, fermented foods are a really good one. During the fermentation process, - these are foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, drinks like kombucha, kafir - when they started fermenting these foods to keep them for longer, throughout that process, whether it's adding salts to them or fermenting them differently, those foods grow beneficial bacteria like bifidobacteria or lactobacillus, which have the most research, and we know they can really impact our mental wellbeing. When we eat those foods, we also take on the bacteria produced throughout that fermentation process. It's like adding in extras of the good guys to support the real diversity of our diet. So that's a really good place to start.

However, many people, when I mention fermented foods, squinch their faces and say, oh, I'm not putting that pickled cabbage anywhere near my plate. Another way of supporting diverse gut bacteria is what you were saying, Bryony, about the diversity of your diet. On the days when you eat a colourful diet and you eat the rainbow with whole grains, you potentially feel quite good. One reason for that is when you're eating those foods, you're getting lots of fibre. We know that fibre is a carbohydrate that we as humans don't really use; it goes right to our gut bacteria, and they use it as their food. 

Often the key to supporting our gut bacteria is making sure we get enough fibre, which unfortunately in the UK we're not very good at. UK government recommendations are that we eat about 30 grams a day and on average we tend to only really eat around 19 grams, which is why often our gut bacteria is hungry, it can't survive as we want it to. That's probably the first thing I'd say. Eat lots of fruit and veg, whole grains like your brown bread, brown rice, nuts, seeds high in fibre, and also legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils. The benefit of those as well is that they're super cheap and also high in protein. They're really good alternatives for people who might eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. They're the basics I'd say alongside fermented foods if you feel brave.

Bryony: Right. Thank you. And sorry Kat, I'll answer your original question as well. 

Kat: No worries. That was a good question!

Bryony: Thank you. It actually links to what Laura was saying, so in terms of what works for me with food and my mood, variety's important, not just for gut health reasons, but also because I get bored quite quickly with eating the same thing. To help my mood, I like to have lots of different things throughout my day. I like to mix up my breakfasts a bit, or if I have the same thing for dinner two nights in a row, then I start to get a bit twitchy and I want to try new things. That's definitely something I'm aware of. 

I mentioned breakfast, so breakfast for me is one of the, I mean I know I'm not original in saying this, but it's a very important meal of the day, but I love waking up and thinking about what I'm going to have for breakfast. I make it quite a ritual. I tend to have eggs, crumpets, veggies, and stuff for breakfast that, you know, I can take a little bit of time to make. But in two ways, that's benefiting my mood. It's having that moment of kind of mindfulness and making that in my day, but also knowing I suppose or hoping that it's quite a healthy way to start my day. So that's one of the points in my day when I really notice that relationship with food and mood. 

Also, another thing that's important for me is the treats in the day. It links back to what I said at the start of our conversation about those instant moments of joy or gratification. So I try not to deny myself too much, you know, and if I want chocolate – like you Kat, I love chocolate, so I'll have a bit of that in my day or if I'm out and I want a bit of cake. Those things are just as important for helping my mood throughout the day.

Laura: I think that's a really good point, Bryony, because sometimes when we're talking about supporting our mental health through food, people think, "That's it. I'm going to have to cut everything out. It's all about everything has to be ‘perfect’." I always try and encourage people that actually food can be a huge comfort and support for us. So those experiences that you mentioned, Bryony, when you are having the piece of cake or whether it's a biscuit with your favourite coffee, you actually get a release of dopamine, which is that real good feeling. So why deny ourselves? 

I guess the only thing that I caveat that with is yes, food can be a huge support that way as well, but we don't really ever want to rely on one particular thing, and we don't want food to be our only support when we need a bit of comfort. 

Like Kat was saying before about that real diversity of support when it comes to mental health, ideally alongside that piece of cake when you're feeling a bit sad, other things in this toolbox could be going out for a morning walk or stroking your dog or maybe giving your best friend a call, but I just wanted to pipe in there because I'm totally with you and that is something that food should be really joyous and that is something that I think is a fantastic way to look at it. So, keep going with the cake!

Bryony: I will! And that makes a lot of sense as well, what you're saying with that holistic approach to our mental health. I think about it quite a lot because I work from home so I spend a lot of time by myself and, not to diverge too much, but yeah, I'm always thinking of - well have I almost a bit of a checklist of, what have I eaten today? Who have I seen today? Have I been for a walk today? Have I drunk enough water today? Have I spoken to a friend today? And if I'm not feeling great, that's a good sort of checklist in my mind of what are all the things that I could do that might contribute to shifting that.

Kat: Absolutely. It can be so easy to get lost in our day-to-day and to not realise that we have done those things. I know relatively recently I was going through my morning and it was about 10:00 AM and I had a really bad headache and I was starving, I was just feeling really anxious and I was like, why am I feeling like this? And then I realised I'd completely forgotten to have breakfast, I'd just gotten up and just gotten so into my day that I'd started working. So I was there with a headache, my body screaming at me to say, you haven't eaten anything yet today, you probably haven't even drunk any water. Go and do that. 

And since then I've made more of a routine of it, as you were saying, Bryony, more of a mindful moment in the morning to take the time to pull that breakfast together and sit and enjoy it. And I think that mindfulness aspect is a really important part of it. So thank you both for sharing this. 

On a similar line, there we were talking about the things that have a positive impact, do you notice anything that has a negative impact on your mood? I know for example, for me, having too much caffeine definitely affects my anxiety and again, skipping meals definitely impacts my mood. So I'd be interested to hear your views on this.

Bryony: Yes, I'd agree with both of those. I think particularly on the point on caffeine, it's something that personally I've been looking at quite a lot for myself because I used to start my day with a black coffee before anything else, just on an empty stomach. That was my ritual. And then I started to notice, exactly as you say Kat, my anxiety or my mood would be impacted by that on a physical side I was also starting to get like heartburn and kind of negative impacts from that. But I know that I do enjoy that moment of having a coffee every morning. So I've looked at how can I adjust that. So I often will have a decaf and I'll just have one a day, make sure I've added milk to it. I might have a latte or a flat white so that it's not as intense a caffeine hit.

So yeah, I agree with you on that. And if I have too much coffee throughout the day, for whatever reason, I definitely notice higher levels of anxiety and more jittery and then it impacts often the next day as well. 

Alcohol is something that I've cut back on a lot recently because for similar reasons I was noticing that was impacting my physical health in a lot of ways, but also, my mental health either the day or the day after. So that's something that I try not to have too much of in my life. And it was interesting around Christmas actually, I really noticed in the run-up to Christmas, the food and drink, like all of us, being indulgent and having fun and having Christmas parties, there was this undercurrent of, I'm not feeling perhaps as happy (quote unquote) as I should with all this going out and seeing my friends and having a great time.

And I think part of it was because I was drinking a lot of booze and eating lovely food. But it was interesting to see the impact of that almost overindulgence on my mood and eating a lot of food that I wouldn't normally. But it's a funny one to balance because as we are talking about there's the joy of that connection and celebration with food, but also how that can then tip into being like, oh well this is a bit too much and my body doesn't like the third roast dinner in a week. Which was definitely where I was before Christmas. 

And I think something else that I know didn't work for me when it came to my food and mood – so this was years ago, I tried the five-two fasting plan and I literally tried it for I think a couple of weeks. And I remember that being one of the most depressing times in my life when it came to my relationship with food. Because those days when you are only allowed, again, quote unquote 500 calories a day, I was miserable, angry and I just hated it. And you know, that really stuck in my mind - I don't want to have a day when I'm denying myself food but also when I'm feeling like this and I'm so obsessed about food on those days because I couldn't have it. So, for me, that was definitely an example of something that's not worked in the past for me when it comes to food and my own mood and state of mind.

Kat: Absolutely. And I think what's so interesting there is that everybody is going to be different with this. Some people are going to eat those three roast dinners a week and feel absolutely fine and great, but for others, it's going to affect them. 

And I think sharing what you did about alcohol is also a really good point. I think in society, it's becoming much more common to be low-alcohol or alcohol-free. I know I've got some alcohol-free spirits in my kitchen that I've been enjoying the last year as a replacement for other things and I've not really noticed much of a difference apart from improvement. So it is really interesting. So thank you so much for sharing. 

And Laura, I'm going to come to you. We have covered a little bit about the different types of food that can help to improve mood. So maybe if there's any more you want to expand on there or perhaps anything that could be worth moderating as we mentioned.

Laura: Yeah, so like we said before, a colourful diet, lots of different fibres and things like that is a real good starting point. But if we kind of zoom in a little bit in terms of how our brain sometimes can create that feeling of happiness, we know that serotonin is often the neurotransmitter that we think about, that's our quote-unquote happy hormone. Although there are obviously other hormones that create that sensation. What we know is that the building block of serotonin is actually a protein called tryptophan. What we want to make sure of is that throughout our diet we actually have some of these building blocks that will allow us to create serotonin. 

So tryptophan-rich foods could be things like seeds, eggs, poultry, like chicken and turkey. I've already said cheese, haven't I? Yeah, so those types of foods - I think green leafy vegetables have got some elements of tryptophan potentially too. It is a good idea to make sure if you're looking at your diet that you've got some of those in. 

But another thing to touch upon, especially because recently there seems to have been an increase in hating on carbohydrates and loads of people are completely cutting out carbs or going on, like, a really intense keto diet. And actually when it comes down to the mechanics of serotonin that can play havoc not only on potentially what Bryony was saying about that obsession with food. And obviously, we're cutting away some of that comfort in terms of that dopamine hit when we have carbohydrates. But also we know that we need carbohydrates as a way of transporting that tryptophan to our brain so that it can create serotonin.

So I guess if someone's listening to this and they're thinking, right, I don't feel great, and, hopefully, they're getting support in a variety of different ways, but it could be that they reflect on their diet. If they're someone who's doing a really strict diet and cutting out all of their carbs, then it's probably a good idea to add a few of those back in, in whatever way feels comfortable. It could be some really lovely sweet potato, it could be brown rice, it literally could be any carbohydrate. There isn't really a good or bad, but I would say that that's another way of supporting your brain. 

And it's quite an interesting one because we, as human beings, we've got this innate knowledge of potentially what should be on your plate. And I say should in inverted commas because it's going to depend on each person. I think sometimes if you have a plate, maybe like a tuna salad with no carbs. I don't know if others feel this, but in my brain is like ‘something's missing’. Your brain doesn't get that same satisfaction as if there was a tuna salad with a few new potatoes or a piece of bread. It's like that gut feeling or innate knowledge that we need a balanced diet. 

If we zoom into the science, that's why we need carbohydrates to support tryptophan transferring into the brain. So those are the other things that come to mind. There are probably loads of other things, but I think they're good things for listeners to start on.

Kat: Absolutely. That's really interesting to hear about the role of carbohydrates and how they actually transport the important stuff we need to our brain. That's really helpful. And would you say there's anything people may want to moderate or reduce, or is that really just dependent on the individual?

Laura: Yeah, I think it's mostly dependent on the individual. One of the things I know with a lot of my clients or people who have come to me struggling with anxiety or low mood is ideally we'd want to try and change if it looks like that person is on a bit of a blood sugar rollercoaster. 

What I mean is, for example, if that person ate a sugary cereal for breakfast and that peaks their blood sugar levels, then it dips mid-morning because that blood sugar level was absorbed quickly due to quick releasing energy. Then mid-morning they're like, oh, I'm starving, I need a couple of biscuits. And they have that. And then at lunchtime, they get a dip again and have to have something else sweet or maybe a bowl of pasta. Because they really need some energy. And then what happens is they're going up and down in terms of their blood sugar levels every day, which can actually be really stressful on our body. 

Some people, when they get that sugar dip, feel anxiety because basically, your body is sending a warning to your brain, saying, oh, your blood sugar level's low, this could mean that we could die. And it's over-exaggerating everything because its main thing is to keep you alive. 

So what can be helpful with people on that blood sugar rollercoaster is to change their diet slightly, maybe reducing the amount of sugar they're having, but more importantly, adding extra protein so they don't get as many highs and lows, resulting in a smoother journey through the day. People often find that these little changes help them feel better, not only with instances of anxiety but also their energy throughout the day.

Kat: That reminds me of a video I saw, it was a while ago, but somebody was talking about if you're craving a snack, like a cookie. Yes, you could just eat that, absolutely go for it. But if you want to do what you were saying and maybe avoid that super quick sugar rush, she suggested just crumbling the cookie on a bowl of yoghurt, adding some berries and adding some nuts. You're still eating the cookie but adding these other bits, which I'm guessing would help the release slow down?

Laura: Yeah, so what you're doing there is obviously the yoghurt is high protein, so you are reducing those highs and lows. Also, I really love that principle because as human beings, as we've all been saying before, we hate feeling restricted. If you just say, no, I'm not having the cookie, chances are you're going to be thinking about that cookie all day and you'll probably then have to eat like four different rice cakes and seven plums or - I'm obviously just picking numbers out of my head - to try and satisfy your brain. Whereas if you were to just eat that cookie and yes, maybe add in extra things so that it supported you, hopefully then you can eat it and move on with your day without constantly thinking about how hungry or how much you want that cookie. So yeah, I really like that idea. Adding in is much easier than taking away.

Kat: Exactly. I remember seeing that and I always think about that whenever it comes up. So thank you. I feel like people listening to this are probably learning a huge amount. I know I am. I wonder if they're thinking about working with a nutritional professional, how can a professional support them? What would that look like to work with someone who is a nutritional professional?

Laura: Yeah, so what it will look like is that there wouldn't be just one way that it would look if that makes sense. There isn't a perfect diet, there isn't the best way of doing things that will suit everyone. So what people should expect when they come to a nutritional professional is that they're going to be asked loads of questions before anything is recommended. They might be asked about their food diary, genetically what goes on in their family, their whole health history, what medication they're on, their symptoms, their goals. 

The role of me and other nutritional professionals is to find out exactly what is going on with you, being that detective, finding out where the imbalances may be or what your routine is, what may be helpful and what may not be helpful. And then to create something with you. 

Sometimes people come to me with the idea that I'm going to tell them exactly what to eat at what time, and these are the recipes and off you go. Unfortunately, I don't want to do all the work. I want you to come on this journey with me. When people work with a nutritional professional, it's teamwork. It's not one person telling the other what to do. They might share knowledge or ideas, but the goal is that you work together to find out what's going to best suit your lifestyle, what foods you like so that you're more likely to create sustainable changes. 

Also, it probably won't ever just be about the food. It will also be about how stressed you are because we know with our gut bacteria, for example, if you are in a very stressed state, you tend to have a less diverse gut in terms of that vagus nerve we were talking about. If you're really stressed, that basically can't work. You are either in that fight or flight or that rest and digest. So all of these things we have to think about, we have to think about what your sleep is like because if you're not sleeping very well, chances are you'll tend to crave more carbohydrates for that dopamine and comfort. 

It won't just be about the food; it'll be about everything else. Sometimes people are quite surprised by that. But actually, when you think about it, it just makes sense because if you just look at food, you're cutting off a huge amount of benefit. Probably you can get to where you want to be much quicker if you look at the whole lifestyle rather than just what you are eating on your plate every day.

Kat: Exactly. I think that's helpful for listeners to know that when they work with a nutrition professional – it's great to hear professionals say that they're not there to just tell somebody what to do. It's a collaborative effort, and you'll work together to find what works for the individual, which is really great. Thank you. 

So to wrap up, I always like to ask if there's anything you would like to share with anyone listening who may be struggling with this topic and their mood is suffering at the moment, and they suspect their diet has a role to play. 

Bryony, I'm going to come to you first. Is there anything you would say to anyone feeling this way at the moment?

Bryony: Yeah, it's an interesting question because I suppose I can only speak from my own experience. I think for me, I'd say you don't have to change everything about your diet. It's looking at what you enjoy, and are there small things you can do every day that don't take loads of time and also aren't expensive? Something that is manageable for you. I think that's probably important. 

And I guess the second point, thinking about what we've talked about today, is just really important to still enjoy what you're eating. Finding that balance between foods that are nutritionally good for you but having those moments in your day when there's just the joy of eating something that you love, like don't let go of that. Because that has a really important role.

Kat: Yes, I co-sign that message! I think that is really important, that balance as well. It's great. Thank you so much. 

And Laura, yourself, what would you say to anyone who's listening to this and thinking, "Oh yes, I need to do some work on this"?

Laura: Yeah, I totally agree with everything Bryony was saying. Because I think sometimes the smaller the change you make, the more realistic you're going to stick with it. So I often recommend people just start with the teeniest tiniest thing that they can do and then look at what else they can change. I think it's important that if people are feeling really overwhelmed, I have clients who come to me who have done all of the research on all of the different Instagram accounts and all of the Google searches, and they now feel probably more overwhelmed than ever. In those instances, of course, reach out, get support, reach out to a nutritional professional, and get what works for you. However, sometimes just reflecting a little bit on what you are already doing can be a real light bulb moment.

So I sometimes have clients come to me after their three-day food diary that we do. They just record everything on two weekdays and one weekend day. And they'll come to me in the first session, and they're like, "Oh my goodness, Laura, I can't believe that's what I'm eating. I know exactly what I need to do." And I'm like, "Great. Okay, well, let's talk about that." 

Sometimes when it comes to eating, we have our routines, our habits, our very busy lives, and many people don't particularly even think about what they're eating and reflect on it. It could be like that day, Kat, when you get to 10:00 AM and you're like, "Why am I anxious, and why am I hungry and angry at the world?" And then you reflect and you're like, "Oh, that's why."

Sometimes it might not be as obvious as that. And it could be that writing down what you're eating and reflecting on it, you might be like, "Oh my goodness, I'm only drinking one cup of water a day, and I was wondering why I had such brain fog and I was struggling to concentrate." So I think that can sometimes just be really helpful. And if you write it down and you're like, "Right, I'm still confused," then yeah, the next step is, thankfully, there are hundreds of thousands of professionals out there who are ready and excited to go on this journey with you to make some positive changes.

Kat: I love that. Reflection, that's such a good point, to actually take the time to stop and ask yourself what is working for me and what is not working for me. And what changes can I make? And as you said, starting small as well is absolutely key. 

So for any listeners who may be keen to connect with either of you online, I'd love it if you could share your details. So, Laura, I'll start with you. Where can people find you online?

Laura: My website is mindnourishing.com and then Instagram, if you just search mindnourishing, I'm on there too. I tend, to be honest, not to spend huge amounts of time on social media anymore for my own mental health as well. But I pop in there every once in a while to share pictures of food and any bits and pieces that I pick up. But I'm always there for messages if people have any questions.

Kat: Perfect. Thank you. And I will say I've done a few of these recordings now, and you're not the first person to say that about social media, so there's definitely a trend I'm seeing. Bryony, how about yourself? If people want to learn more about you and connect, where can they find you?

Bryony: So my website is tellmemor.com, and that's mor without an E. Mor is the Cornish word for sea. On Instagram, it's tell_me_mor, again, more without an E.

Kat: Oh, I love that. My dad is Cornish. I'm going to have to tell him that. Huge thank you again to both of you for sharing your time with me today and sharing your insights. It's been a really fascinating conversation. And for anyone who is listening and is thinking, yes, I am at that point where I do want to work with a nutrition professional, then you can find more at nutritionist-resource.org.uk

And we are going to be back next week with our exhale episode where we're going to be delving into this topic further. But until then, please take care.

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