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Brits are turning to the ‘wrong’ foods to boost their mood in the mistaken belief that cake, chocolate and crisps will make them feel better, according to experts.

Nutritionists have revealed the dishes which improve your mood and those which don’t – with grains, oily fish and fruit among the items which give you a pick-me-up.

But takeaway foods like pizza and chips and sweet treats like cake and chocolate are best avoided.

However, a study of 2,000 adults found 65 per cent will turn to precisely these kinds of meals when they’re feeling low.

The research by premium salmon brand MOWI found a third have ‘no idea’ which foods help improve their wellbeing, although 73 per cent think there is a link between what we eat and how we feel in ourselves.

Nutrition-trained Chartered Psychologist Kimberley Wilson, author of How To Build a Healthy Brain, said: “It is very easy to turn to takeaways when we’re feeling low, but while these high-sugar and high-fat foods can make us feel better in the moment, they aren’t the best long-term mood boosters.

“People are aware that their food choices can impact their mood, but many people wouldn’t know which foods to pick up help them feel more positive day to day and to actively improve their brain health.

“You might crave a burger, or maybe some chips but you – and your brain – will be much better off eating wholegrains, vegetables and salmon.

“I’ve long been an advocate of the benefits of salmon – it’s far more versatile than people realise, rich in Omega-3, an essential fatty-acid which the body cannot produce by itself, but is also a great source of Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D, all known to be good for mood.”

It also emerged respondents believe a traditional English tea, a coffee or alcohol to be the best drinks to improve their mood.

The average adult estimates that it takes an average of 18 minutes after eating something to realise if it’s had an impact on their mood.

But 64 per cent admitted they reach for less healthy foods when they are in a bad mood – though 26 per cent feel worse as a result after.

Due to the pandemic, 29 per cent said their attitude to food has changed in the last year with 39 per cent of those trying to eat healthier options because they have been more sedentary.

And nearly a quarter have eaten more whole foods than usual, but almost one in five have consumed more processed foods.

More than half have felt more inventive in the kitchen having tried their hand at cooking new dishes over the last 12 months – with more than a quarter enjoying challenging themselves.

It also emerged that Brits don’t take their diets seriously until the age of 31, despite 71 per cent recognising that diet can impact things like depression, anxiety and cognition.

But 45 per cent find healthy food often boring to eat, with 45 per cent of those who reach for sugary treats suffer from ‘food guilt’.

The study, carried out via OnePoll, found that of those looking for a healthier option, 64 per cent eat fish weekly or more, with 29 per cent of those cooking it more than once a week.

A spokesman from MOWI added: “It’s clear from the research that there is a real opportunity for consumers to make smart choices around the food they eat.

“Kimberley’s Whole Body Mental Health philosophy advocates evidence-based nutrition and we’re excited to be working together to craft recipes that pair quality salmon with other ingredients known to support mental and physical health, for all occasions.

Kimberley Wilson and MOWI will be releasing their Good Mood Food recipes over the summer.

Food and drink Brits turn to when they are feeling low

  1. Chocolate
  2. Cake
  3. Crisps
  4. Alcohol
  5. Ice cream
  6. Chips
  7. Takeaways
  8. Coffee
  9. Sweets
  10. Pizza
  11. English breakfast tea
  12. Fizzy drinks
  13. Burgers
  14. Bananas
  15. Roast chicken
  16. Pasta
  17. White bread
  18. Berries (e.g. Raspberries/blueberries/strawberries)
  19. Orange juice
  20. Eggs
  21. Apples
  22. Nuts and seeds (e.g. Sunflower/pumpkin/walnuts/almonds/chia seeds)
  23. Salmon
  24. Energy drinks
  25. Honey
  26. Cold meats
  27. Avocados
  28. Green tea
  29. Rice
  30. Oranges