How Does Food Affect Your Emotions? The "Food Mood Girl" Breaks It All Down For You

By
Share
Ad failed to load

Have you ever noticed that, when you're feeling kind of sad, you might be apt to reach for something warm like lasagna? Or that after you eat a pint of ice cream, you might feel a little bummed out and mopey afterward? There seems to be a clear connection between what you're eating and how you're feeling, but how does food affect your emotions exactly? With all the trends and advice out there, sometimes it can be hard to navigate how to best care for your body and moods.

"Many times we think we are doing right by our body, but many times we are causing our body and our mental health more harm than good," Lindsey Smith, writes in her upcoming book, Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl's Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating, which goes on sale Dec. 26 (but FYI, you can pre-order now!).

Elite Daily had the opportunity speak with the Food Mood Girl herself, Lindsey Smith — a TEDx speaker, culinary expert, and health coach — on how your emotions affect what you eat (and vice versa), and how you can approach what you eat and what you crave as a way of both supporting and listening to your emotions.

Ad failed to load

Part of Smith's job is to help people learn how to listen to their cravings, identify the emotions accompanying those cravings, and eventually, find the best ways to nourish themselves with foods that help support their moods.

Smith believes that balance is key, so along with living that veggie life, you can absolutely have your cake, too. More than anything, Smith tells me, it's all about feeling in control and in connection with your emotional well-being first and foremost.

In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Smith explains that a struggle with anxiety is what initially brought her into the world of nutritional work.

TEDx Talks on YouTube
Ad failed to load

"I suffered from anxiety, and was hospitalized at 12 years old for panic attacks," she tells me. "That's when [the work] really started. I was pretty intuitive; I knew that it wasn’t a normal way to feel or live, and I didn’t want to go into middle school [feeling] like that."

Smith says she tried therapy at first to treat the anxiety, but it didn't quite do the trick. Around the same time, her sister, who's eight years older than her, went to a wellness center, and Smith noticed a major difference in how her sister was approaching life as a result. Smith then asked her parents to sign her up to work with a health and nutrition coach who also did Tai Chi, acupuncture, and Chinese medicine.

After six months of working with the health and nutrition coach, "I was a totally different person," Smith says.

Ad failed to load

With the help of her coach, Smith changed the way she ate, and began to live what she now calls a "mood and food lifestyle," supporting her emotions through nutrition.

Sorgatron Media on YouTube

Once she recognized how powerful this connection between emotions, cravings, and food actually was, she dove headfirst into educating herself as much as she could on the topic, studying integrative nutrition, and even attending culinary school for a period of time. Her ultimate goal, she tells Elite Daily, is to find ways to effectively help others make major, positive lifestyle changes through this connection between food and mood.

Ad failed to load

However, Smith says, while diet and nutrition can definitely change your life, it's important to remember that it's not everything.

Lindsey Smith

It isn't necessarily about changing what you eat first, either. Smith's work, at the end of the day, is focused on feelings; the ability to identify and honor your emotions is the axis around which the whole "food mood" philosophy operates.

Ad failed to load

So, yes, while eating lots of fruits and veggies might be great for your mood on an everyday basis, Smith asks an important question: "What happens when something terrible happens?"

"Something terrible can rock your world," she explains. But if you've already been in tune with your feelings and know how they're connected to your cravings, you can find ways to feel better in the bigger picture. You can understand what's happening to you, on a much deeper level, at the height of an emotionally challenging situation.

Smith offers a personal example to illustrate this concept: "When I’m sad, I crave grilled cheese," she tells me. And when she asked herself what exactly was connected to that craving, she figured out that it was tied to the feeling of missing her dad. "I lost my dad in 2012, and something we would do together was eat grilled cheese and watch Unsolved Mysteries," she explains. So, is it the grilled cheese she wants, she started to ask herself, or is it something more?

Ad failed to load

Now, when Smith craves that grilled cheese during a bout of the blues, she realizes that deep down, she's searching for something to ease her sadness and honor her dad's memory. "I'm wanting the grilled cheese, but I'm also looking for the feeling of comfort," she says.

When you have such an acute awareness of your own emotions, like Smith does, it doesn't mean you have to say no to your craving. While you can choose to eat something totally different that will support and help boost your mood, you can also add mood-boosting ingredients to the exact thing that you're craving.

"Maybe you make the grilled cheese and add avocado, make some tomatoes in there, put some leafy greens in with it," the health coach and author tells Elite Daily. "You’re honoring that craving, but also adding something nutritious."

Ad failed to load

As for specific foods that are good for those crappy moods, Smith has you covered.

Lindsey Smith

If you're feeling bummed out, Smith suggests looking for foods that have key vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B12 and magnesium — nutrients that help boost serotonin levels and aid in brain function.

Ad failed to load

And remember, when you're craving a cookie or something sweet, as many of us often do when we feel down, that's actually your body's way of asking for a boost in serotonin. "Your body wants to be happier," Smith says.

If you're not exactly feeling sad, but you need a bit of an energy boost, Smith says to try fruits and veggies with lots of water in them, or more specifically, an orange, which also has an invigorating scent to wake you up. Spicy foods are also great for awakening the senses, she says.

When it comes to making these changes in your own life, Smith says, try to do so incrementally, and choose habits that you can actually sustain in the long-term; it doesn't have to be all or nothing, nor does it have to be a dietary lifestyle you brag about. Smith adds with a laugh, "I always say, 'Eat kale, but don't be a dick about it.'"

Ad failed to load

Must Reads

These Subtle Red Flags Could Mean You're About To Get Sick, So Here's What To Do

When you're constantly on the move, it can be easy to miss the signals your body is trying to send to you about how you're really feeling. Knowing how to tell you're getting sick isn't necessarily a complicated process. It's more about taking the tim…
By Caroline Burke

These 6 Workouts Can Be Done Right On Your Couch, & Yes, They Do Count As Exercise

Ever have that feeling when you're watching the Olympics like you should be working out, or at least stretching, but in reality you're just laying around eating chips? Yeah, me neither. But if you do ever feel that pull to work out when you're just l…
By Annakeara Stinson

10 Things You Should Say To Your Partner Every Day To Keep The Love Alive

When it coms to love, falling into it is a lot easier than maintaining it. There’s a reason, after all, that it's called "falling" in love, because it's mostly out of your control — the heart just takes over. Because those emotions come so easily and…
By Rachel Shatto

Science Says These 8 Foods Can Help You Live Longer, So Eat Up

If you're looking to live forever, or at least for an appropriately long amount of time, then the best way to get started on your journey toward immortality is to think about what you're putting into your body for fuel. Think of your diet as the batt…
By Caroline Burke

I Live In London & When Guys Find Out I'm American, They Only See Me As A Fling

I first entered the world of dating apps during a semester abroad in London, and I had zero idea what I was getting myself into. I was 21, had only ever dated boys I'd met through work, school, or mutual friends, and my appreciation for romantic come…
By Genevieve Wheeler

Here's Exactly How You'll Fall In Love, Based On Your Astrological Sign

One of my favorite things about learning about my zodiac sign and others' is learning patterns about my behavior that I can acknowledge and use to my advantage. As a Scorpio sun sign, I know I'm typically described as mysterious, drawn to loyal peopl…
By Elana Rubin

These 8 Red Flags Might Mean You're Pushing Yourself Too Hard In Your Workouts

If you live by the motto "no pain, no gain," or you frequently exclaim that your HIIT circuits "hurt so good," you're probably the type of person who challenges yourself to the max during your workouts. And while this isn't necessarily a bad thing, i…
By Georgina Berbari

I Tried Vegan "Spacepaste" & It Looks Like Straight-Up LED Lights On Your Face

As you might have noticed, 2018 is the year for glitter. So many brands have been releasing shining, shimmering formulations like they're going out of style. We're not even halfway through February, and Lemonhead LA has already launched the best glit…
By Kim Carpluk

These "Awkward" Proposal Stories Show There's No One Perfect Way To Get Engaged

There are a few adjectives people use to describe proposal stories that tend to be a bit more common than the rest. You know what I mean. How many times have you heard someone describe their marriage proposal as "magical" or "romantic" or — my person…
By Candice Jalili

This $20 Toy Simulates Pimple Popping, So You Can Save Your Face (But Still Lose Your Dignity)

As a self-proclaimed popaholic, I am not ashamed to admit that I love watching pimple popping and blackhead extraction videos. Call me gross, but I find it immensely therapeutic and satisfying. To all of my fellow weirdos, we’ve been blessed with a n…
By Ariana Marsh

Everyone Is So Thirsty Over This “Photo” Of Obama With Facial Hair

It's been a hot minute since President Barack Obama left the Oval office (though it feels like ages), and a lot of us miss him dearly. After leaving the White House, the 44th president remained out of the public eye for a little while, decompressing …
By Daniella Bondar

Meghan Markle Uses This $13 Natural Wonder To Grow Her Eyebrows Back & You Can Too

Meghan Markle is the world's new go-to celebrity for all things fashion and beauty — she's marrying a prince after all, so she must have some tricks up her sleeve. Meghan Markle's beauty routine is just as intricate as mine, because that's how real s…
By Alison Turka

7 Foolproof Things To Do Every Day If You're Tired Of Being Lazy AF

Being lazy can be oh-so-lovely. Until you start letting life pass you by, and not living to your full potential, then suddenly, it's not so good anymore. Don't get me wrong, I love my weekends when I can stay snuggled up in bed just a bit longer. Hit…
By Marisa Casciano

This Is How Long Most People Wait To Say "I Love You," Science Says

If I had to choose one word to describe saying "I love you" to your partner for the first time, I'd have to go with... hmm, exciting? Nope. Thrilling? Hardly. Terrifying? YES. Exactly. Saying "I love you" for the first time is terrifying. What makes …
By Candice Jalili

6 Reasons To Travel Abroad With Your Boyfriend Or Girlfriend In Your 20s

Traveling can be many things: hectic, expensive, and definitely stressful. But with the right people or person beside you, all those troubles kind of just melt away. That's why there are some solid reasons to travel abroad with your boyfriend or girl…
By Alani Vargas

7 Subtle Red Flags About The Way The Person You're Dating Treats Other People

You've done it. Against all odds, you've found the seemingly perfect person. All of your dates have been amazing, filled with endless hours of deep conversation and sweet affections. And how is it possible that you have, like, everything in common? T…
By Lily Rouff

Opal Hair Is The Latest Color Trend & It's So 'Zenon: Girl Of The 21st Century'

If you were a fan of the unicorn highlighters or mermaid hair hues that took over 2017, then you’re in for a treat. A new beauty trend has arisen and it's as fantastical as it gets. These photos of opal hair color prove that too much rainbow is never…
By Ariana Marsh