"Different foods make for different dreams. I've got a whole theory about it. It's called "The Wallace Way of Wishful Wooing." You'll find it in the American Medical Journal under 'W'. Ham and Swiss cheese, for instance, you get a cool, thin, blonde girl. Turkey sandwich, you get a dark sort of stumpy girl, sexy though. Now a liverwurst sandwich - you get both girls at once. Bad night.” (Bob to Betty in the holiday film “White Christmas”)
Does the food you eat affect your dreams? Yes, believe it or not. But not in the sense that eating a specific food will bring on specific dreams as in Bob’s theory although many wish it were that simple.
Physiology and dreaming
If certain foods have a physiological effect on your body (for example, if eating pizza gives you heartburn or drinking red wine gives you a headache), then those physical reactions often have an effect on the types of dreams you have. This is mainly because our brain processes are affected by the reactions in our bodies, including stress and even digestive pains. It is common for people to dream about being injured and wake up to find that their arms or legs are in cramped or painful sleeping positions. Or to dream about using the toilet only to awaken with the urgent need to urinate!
Food, rituals, belief and dreaming
If a person believes that eating a certain food will bring on a specific type of dream, he essentially is planting the idea or intending that dream to come forward. His conscious mind is expressing this wish--and belief—and hence, his subconscious mind receives this information and produces the experience. Any dreamer can do the same—with or without eating a designated type of food. It is the person’s conscious intention and belief that it will manifest that makes the suggestion to his subconscious mind, not the food itself.
In ancient cultures, eating or abstaining from specific foods was part of a ritual practice to invoke dreams. The Greeks would purge themselves of animal flesh and fermented drinks for two days before sleeping in the Delphi Temple in hopes of receiving dream messages from a deity. Rituals are physical behaviors that reinforce a belief. Those who participate in ritualistic behaviors without belief typically do not see results.
Mohandas Ghandi, the pacifist leader of the Indian revolts against the British government, was raised as a vegetarian Hindu. During his college days in England, some friends persuaded him to eat a restaurant dish containing goat meat. He ate it and later that night had a horrific nightmare that the goat was bleating plaintively in his belly. He woke up suffering, but he said the agony of his guilt surpassed the pain in his abdomen. His belief that eating animal flesh was wrong or sinful brought on the nightmare while millions of people consume goat flesh without experiencing such chimeras.
A dream diet
What foods encourage good dreams? The list is different for everyone. A glass of warm milk can be soothing to some, but for the lactose intolerant, it can be disastrous! The best foods to choose at the evening meal in order to provide a sound physiological and mental state for dreaming are easy to digest, sufficiently satisfying (not under- or overfilling) and nourishing to the body. Ask yourself, “What is soothing to me? What nourishing, healthful foods are pleasing to my taste?” Of course, avoid foods that are toxic to the body and mind, and that includes foods that are associated with bad memories for you.
If your purpose is to avoid nightmares and enjoy sweet dreams, I highly suggest that your “dream diet” would be to eat foods that are kind to your body so it needn't stress itself during the digestive and nourishing processes, and that is good eating advice whether you’re hoping to have pleasant dreams or not.