Poems, food and the Zoe podcasts

Self care
27 Dec 2022

I recently found out that food as a mood changer has some solid scientific basis. I’ve started listening to a series of podcasts on the ‘Zoe’ website. There is one devoted to ‘how food can improve your mood’. There is both a recording and a transcript on this link:


If we eat processed sugary, salty food that’s full of preservatives, then we tend to feel rubbish. Where-as if we eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables, then we feel better. It’s probably something that we all know already, or at least the instinctive inner poet in us is well aware.

The Zoe podcast discusses what they call a ‘groundbreaking study’ in which ‘a third of participants with severe depression went into complete remission as a result of changing their diet’. The change in diet is not complicated, you just have to increase the amount of vegetables, fruit and whole grain cereals. Foods such as chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds, olive oil and fish are good for you. Essentially, it’s what they call a Mediterranean diet.

If you use tinned, frozen and dried foods its also relatively cheap. The food doesn’t need to organic and handpicked to get the benefits. The key is a diversity of whole, unprocessed food that’s rich in vegetables. One of the possible benefits highlighted in the Zoe podcast is that a diverse diet high in fibre helps to maintain a good community of micro-organisms in your digestive system and this is a reason for making you feel better.

My problem is that I can overindulge on the wrong sort of foods. If I’ve got a work deadline I might eat a whole chocolate bar to get it done and then feel awful afterwards. Or just focus my diet for a couple of days on fast food for the salt and sugar and then mentally crash for a week. I find it hard to maintain food discipline.

Foraging from hedgerows is a good way to include lots of micro-organisms in your diet! In the late summer blackberries make your fingers turn purple, and that’s something I enjoy when I’m out filling bowls with fresh fruit. Here’s Seamus Heaney: “Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking”; and here’s Sylvia Plath: “Fat with blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers. I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.”

Rowan on the Moor

A Moodscope member

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