We all have that one food item that sends us on a ride down memory lane. Hopefully, those memories are positive ones and when you eat that food, you are left with warm feelings of happiness. But have you ever really thought about the food you’re eating everyday playing a role in your daily mood? It turns out, our diet can be the main culprit for mood swings and even play a role in causing depression.
Foods That Bring Us Down
The grocery stores are filled with endless options to chose from these days. The problem with the vast majority of those options, is they contain little to no nutritional value. The sole purpose of eating food is to fuel our bodies and give us energy. So, why are we filling up our body’s “gas tank” with sand (crap filled processed foods) instead of fuel (whole foods)?
So, what food exactly should you be avoiding? My first recommendation would be to avoid most of the foods in the center of the grocery stores! This may sound silly at first, but you have to really think about the layouts of the stores.
The fresh produce is usually one of the first things you walk by and is along a wall to allow for the coolers to be powered. Then, you will walk by a bakery. Followed by the meat department. Lastly, you will end at the freezer section.
Why are we avoiding the center of the store and all of those food items we have grown to love over the years? They are full of preservatives to expand the shelf life. They are made from ingredients that we cannot even pronounce. They leave us feeling sluggish and deprived of the essential nutrients our bodies need to function properly. And most of all, they can leave us
If you haven’t started looking at the ingredients list on your packaged foods, I challenge you to take a look in your pantry and start. Not sure what you’re looking for? Visit our blog, Understanding Food Labels. The food companies love to add sugar to their products and give them big fancy names to disguise them. This sugar spike will give us a short burst of energy, followed by a hard crash (insert the 2pm visit to your coffee pot). When our blood sugars are on a rollercoaster ride throughout the day, our attitude and mood follow suit.
Avoid foods that are:
- Highly Processed
- Sugar-sweetened beverages and snacks
- Flour-based foods such as baked goods and breads
Although these foods will give you short bursts of energy right away, they will leave you with low energy and therefore a low mood later on. Instead, you should be consuming foods that have the ability to stabilize your blood sugar and keep you feeling energized, which will ultimately improve your mood.
Foods That Improve Your Mood
When you start to eat a healthy, balanced diet that consists of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and colorful produce, you will notice the effects almost immediately. You won’t feel bloated. You will stop feeling that “post-meal” slump (where you could just sit down and take a quick 15 min nap). You will feel fuller longer! PLUS, you blood sugar will stabilize and your body will release the chemicals that make you feel good. Crazy, right?!
So, to start improving your mood, try eating these foods:
- Complex Carbohydrates – foods such as sweet potatoes, beans, quinoa, and rolled oats. These will increase the serotonin production in your brain. Serotonin is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood and makes us feel happy. It also aids with digestion and helps you sleep better!
- Lean Protein- foods such as chicken, fish, beans, turkey, tofu, beef, and yogurt. These foods have been associated with increased dopamine and norepinephrine production. Dopamine is an important chemical in your brain that is known as the “feel-good” neurotransmitter.
- Fresh Fruits and Vegetables- These are high in vitamins and minerals that nourish our bodies. When our bodies are properly functioning, the result is a boost in happiness.
Of course, this all may sound too good to be true at first. Or you may be sitting there wondering “yeah, but what is the catch?”
I’m here to tell you, there is no catch. If you change the way you eat and start filling your body with nutrient dense foods instead of highly processed foods full of sugars, YOU WILL FEEL BETTER. You will not only have more energy, but you will see your mood starts to improve! No more edginess at 2pm when you’re feeling tired. You will be left with a stable mood with stable energy that lasts all day. You may even be pleasantly surprised when you lose a few extra pounds on your journey to happiness!
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