Food and Mood: A Mixed Methods Research Perspective

I am lucky to live with my family in a scenic country town in regional Australia wedged between Surfers Paradise and Byron Bay. The town is awash with many different people with diverse nutritional backgrounds, so food and its health benefits has always been a constant in my life.

I turned my interest in food and mood into a career at the completion of my psychology degree and am now pursuing a PhD in ‘Nutritional Psychiatry’ at Southern Cross University. I am currently working on three research projects including; an overview of all the currently published literature in dietary patterns and depression, a focus group study that explores people’s experiences with food and mood, and a longitudinal study looking at Australian women’s dietary patterns and depressive symptoms over the past 20 years. 

Preliminary findings of these projects suggest that:

  • Unhealthy dietary patterns high in processed, refined and sugary foods could be contributing to the symptoms of depression
  • Healthy dietary patterns rich in fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, and water could be protective against the symptoms of depression
  • Mediterranean dietary patterns are the most advantageous of all dietary patterns for increasing mood and decreasing depression symptoms. In addition to the above elements they include a higher consumption of extra virgin olive oil, oily fish, and a moderate consumption of red wine and dark chocolate

One of the recommendations from research in nutritional psychiatry is the need to support medical students and healthcare professionals in their education in nutrition and lifestyle medicine. The team at Nutritank are making this a priority.




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