Nutrition and Mood – How Can We Use Diet to Improve Wellbeing?

Why is it Important for Working Dads to Improve Their Diets?

  • Everyone deserves the best chance of feeling happy and level-headed. Making healthy choices proves that you care about yourself, strengthening self-esteem.
  • To be the best and healthiest dad for your kids! A balanced diet provides optimal slow-release energy so you can be present for your family and set good examples for your children.
  • Healthy eating can improve focus and motivation (alongside boosting your general mood) to help you balance work and life. For example, B vitamins improve the cognitive function in your brain. Here’s an informative read for more on this: Brain Food – Boosting Mood, Memory and Motivation

The Gut-Brain Connection

Gut and brain

Your gut and brain may seem like distant organs, but they’re surprisingly intertwined. This connection is known as the “gut-brain axis,” and it involves a complex network of communication between your gastrointestinal system and your brain. In the simplest of terms, your mind and body are deeply connected; What you eat will be influencing your mood and ability to function.

There is extensive research to show that the gut and the brain affect each other in a big way, through things such as microbiota (living microorganisms) and stress. A study published by the National Library of Medicine states that ‘Clinical, epidemiological, and immunological evidence suggest that enteric microbiota extensively and profoundly influences the gut-brain relationship (ie, mental state, emotional regulation, neuromuscular function’.

So, how can we use this knowledge to aid our wellbeing? Well, by understanding that keeping your gut healthy will help to regulate your emotions, you can start by moving towards a nutritious balanced diet. If you want to create the best foundations for a healthy gut, here are some things to think about:

  1. Fiber – found in foods like pulses, potatoes, beans, oats, fruits – check this list of fibrous foods: 22 High Fiber Foods You Should Eat
  2. Probiotics (aka, good bacteria). Found in food such as yoghurts, soft cheeses, sourdough bread. Here’s a list of Top 15 Probiotic Foods to Support Gut Health. You can also take probiotic supplements to balance bacteria in your gut.

What Constitutes a ‘Balanced Diet’?

Everyone is different and a balanced diet can be tailored to individuals. However, as advised by the NHS, the principled of a balanced diet consists of:

  • At least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Meals based on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta.
  • Some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks).
  • Some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein.
  • Plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day).


Have a read through The EatWell Guide for some in depth advise on balancing your diet.


Benefits of Good Nutrition…

Alongside regulating emotion, good nutrition helps you in many ways by improving your overall physical health. Being in good physical health contributes to mental wellbeing. This will become a rewarding healthy cycle. As a domino effect, eating healthier and cutting out bad habits should give you more motivation to exercise and make further healthy lifestyle choices!

Keeping on top of your nutrition is a case of forming new healthy habits. A good way to form new healthy habits is by replacing bad ones. For example, swapping excessive snacking on crisps and sweets for carrot sticks and hummus, a piece of fruit or another healthy alternative. A cup of tea or water instead of a beer in the evening on a school night. All the little choices you make will add up to a big impact over time.

10 Tips to Improve Your Diet for Good:

1. Set Clear Goals:

  • Define specific, achievable nutrition goals. Write them down. For example, new healthy recipes, cutting down on junk food or alcohol.
  • Think about long and short-term goals. Build up slowly to long term goals rather than trying to change overnight.
  • Establish a timeline for achieving these goals. Keep track.

2. Educate Yourself:

  • Learn about the nutritional value of foods. You could do a short course or some research in your spare time.
  • Figure out which foods you need to cut down on, and what they can be replaced with.

3. Meal Planning:

  • Plan your meals and snacks in advance.
  • Create a weekly meal plan with a variety of nutrients.

4. Avoid Junk Food / Cut Down Alcohol

  • Alcohol and junk food can go hand in hand. They perpetuate each other. Alcohol can take away motivation to eat well and exercise and can massively affect your mood.
  • Try to avoid fast food. Fast food contains addictive qualities and gives you fast release energy, but it is not sustainable. Swapping out quick ready meals and fast food for nutritious meals and snacks will give you long lasting energy and improve your overall health and wellbeing.

5. Grocery Shopping:

  • Make a shopping list before going to the store.
  • Fill your kitchen with nutritious choices like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit the availability of unhealthy snacks in your home.

6. Cook at Home:

  • Prepare meals at home to have control over ingredients.
  • Experiment with healthy recipes to keep meals exciting.

7. Stay Hydrated:

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day. – The EatWell Guide recommends 8-10 glasses per day. Between 1.5 and 2.5 litres a day. Limit sugary drinks and excessive caffeine.

8. Don’t be Hard on Yourself:

  • Recognise the ways you’ve improved and don’t beat yourself up. It’s about the long-term overall improvement and being hard on yourself doesn’t help with motivation.

9. Regular Check-Ins:

  • Check in with yourself weekly to take accountability and maintain healthy eating goals. Have you been eating enough veggies? Drinking enough water?

10. Write Down Your Reasons

  • What motivates you? For example – energy, mood, family, focus etc. Write it down!

The Take Away…

It’s amazing to think that you can have such a big impact on your mood from the inside out. The power is yours. Making the decision to think more closely about your diet is the first step towards a healthiest lifestyle and wellbeing.

Here are some links to website guides for further reading:

Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

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Supporting Men & Dads in the workplace

Download our free guide to help employers create a more inclusive and supportive work environment for men and dads.