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Feed Your Feelings: Exploring the Link Between Food and Mood

Feed Your Feelings: Exploring the Link Between Food and Mood

Create a healthier relationship with food for better mental health.


Food has long been associated with comfort and reward, but as eating habits have become progressively unhealthy, the link between nutrition and mental health has become increasingly complicated.

Recent research in psychology is beginning to shed light on the connection between food and mental health, offering new insights into how people can use food to promote better mental wellbeing.

According to Karin Kratina, a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist at Nutrition Therapy Associates, her mission has been to help others break free from food-related issues and attain a sense of peace and freedom when it comes to eating.

“People often have misconceptions about nutrition and how they can start to make changes through understanding the psychology behind it. They may think they are bad if they eat a certain food, or they feel they must not eat certain kinds of food. I help them re-learn a new relationship with food, and it empowers them to look at food differently. They can then move into a way  of eating that feels intuitive and natural for their health and wellbeing.”

Research has shown that our attitude toward food can significantly affect our mental health. Negative associations with food, such as feeling guilty after eating, can lead to unhealthy eating patterns and further worsen mental health. On the other hand, having a positive relationship with food promotes healthier habits and betters mental health.


The Food Mood Connection

To re-establish a healthier relationship with food, experts recommend the following:

  • Focus on the pleasure of eating and remove the guilt
  • Savor every bite and consider removing distractions during mealtimes
  • Enjoy a way of eating that includes a variety of nutrient-rich foods to improve mental health and overall wellbeing
  • Include and enjoy anti-inflammatory foods like olive oil, fruit (especially berries and avocado), vegetables (including dark leafy greens and broccoli), spices and fish
  • Eat naturally cultured and fermented foods like homemade yogurts, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut, unless there is a histamine sensitivity
  • Source meats from pasture-raised, grass-fed farms
  • Choose organic to reduce the amount of toxins consumed

Kratina states that relating to food mindfully helps to unpack the relationship people are having with themselves.

“Clients often come in with self-loathing. I ask them if they hated their car, would they take better care of it like washing it and maintaining it. It clicks then. If my clients can view themselves with self-acceptance, they learn to take better care of their bodies,” she said.

Studies have found that following the Mediterranean Diet can reduce stress, improve cognitive performance and boost mood. Furthermore, the high fiber content of this diet can help regulate blood sugar levels and reduce feelings of anxiety. Incorporating this diet into your lifestyle can be a great way to improve mental wellbeing.

It is important to remember that food is one factor in maintaining good mental health. Exercise, adequate rest and positive relationships are essential to a healthy lifestyle. Prioritizing these elements as part of a daily routine can create a positive environment for a person’s physical and mental health.


Go Local for Health

Local Harvest – find local farms in Greater Gainesville for organic, pasture-raised, sustainable foods

See Also

Community Supported Agriculture – CSAs have become a popular way for consumers to buy local, seasonal food directly from a farmer

Treasured Olive aka (Saporito Oil, Vinegar and Spice) – highest quality estate-produced, award-winning olive oil, vinegar and spices

Haile Famers Market – locally sourced meats, cheeses, fruits, vegetables and artisan foods. Every Saturday 8:30 a.m. – Noon


Overall, understanding the psychology behind food and learning how to use food to promote better mental health can make a huge difference in people’s lives.



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