If your first instinct is to reach for a bar of chocolate, packet of biscuits or bag of crisps when your mood is low, you aren’t alone. Yet these foods could be causing mood swings, anxiety and fatigue so Harrogate-based nutritionist, Georgina Hickman, and private chef, Michaela Hanna, have joined up to host an event called ‘Food for Mood’ at Dunesforde Vineyard in Upper Dunsforth near York. The lunchtime course on Tuesday 16th May during Mental Health Awareness Week will enlighten you on which foods really are good for your mental wellbeing, as well as demonstrating how to cook a mood-boosting meal that you then get to eat.

Nutritionist Georgina Hickman explains: “There are scientific reasons why you reach for that chocolate bar or biscuit. These foods contain high amounts of sugar which light up the dopamine receptors in our brains that are associated with reward and pleasure. Because such snacks are quickly and easily broken down into glucose, they cause glucose spikes which make us feel good in the moment. Which is exactly what you needed, wasn’t it? But they also drive blood sugar imbalances which cause mood swings, anxiety, fatigue and low mood – exactly the feelings you were trying to escape in the first place!”

So, what should you be eating to avoid this vicious circle?
“There are so many equally tasty foods that will help to lift your mood and on more of a long-term basis,” says Georgina Hickman.

“You just need to be a little more organised in ensuring you have them in your store cupboard ready for when you need them. And, once you realise how much more beneficial for your mental health different foods can be, it will probably make you rethink your whole diet.”

Georgina, who lives in Harrogate, is speaking from personal experience. After years of struggling with her moods, and being reluctant to take medication, she used diet, lifestyle and targeted supplementation to heal her gut, rebalance her hormones and restore her mental wellbeing.
“I now have great energy, a clear mind and better mental resilience than ever before,” she says.

Giving the cookery demonstration and making the lunch at Food for Mood will be private chef Michaela Hanna, also from the Harrogate area. After years of working in various kitchens, cooking around the world and, more latterly as a private chef through her business With M, Michaela has gained a deep understanding about our approach to food, ingredient preparation, food choices, nutrition choices and the factors that impact the way we prepare and eat food.

She says: “Hopefully those who attend the event will leave not only enlightened but with the tools to put their new knowledge into practice.
“While there will be a lot of knowledge to be shared, we want the experience to be memorable, joyful and delicious, as well as being insightful.”
Food for Mood is the first of four intimate lunches being held by the pair between May and November. The others are: Eating for your Gut, The Anti-Stress Diet and Eating to Support your Immune System.

Said Georgina: “At each event, we will explain the nutritional science behind our recommendations, produce delicious food for guests to enjoy and demonstrate how to prepare aspects of the dishes we serve. Guests will also have the opportunity to ask Michaela and me any questions they may have about food, nutrition and culinary skills.”

All events are at the picturesque Dunesforde Vineyard and will last just over three hours, culminating in a tour of the vineyard. Places are £95 and can be booked here: www.dunesforde.com/events