If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or stress, wouldn’t it be wonderful if you found out that something as simple as minding your diet can improve your mood?
Good food is like exercise – it rejuvenates you, puts you in touch with the springs of mental health and good feelings. However, some foods will leave you feeling miserable. Do you know which foods are good for your mood and which are bad?
This article will break down this knowledge for you in a very simple way.
Can Food Actually Affect How You Feel?
Think about when you snack on a candy bar or some other sugary treat. It gives you a spike of energy. Soon after, however, there is a crashing low. Sugar highs and lows are both an example of how food can directly affect your mood.
Eating well is just as important for maintaining a good mood as regular exercise. For instance, when you quit an antidepressant like Zoloft too quickly, you will experience withdrawal symptoms, depression, mood swings, and suicidal thoughts. Eating well is one of the ways you can manage withdrawal symptoms during Zoloft detox.
In this article we will examine three aspects of eating right for good mood:
- The best nutrition strategies to help you maintain a good mood
- Foods to eat for a good mood
- Foods to avoid as they can ruin your mood
Best Nutrition Strategies to Help You Maintain a Good Mood
- Eat Enough Regularly
Regularly eaten meals and snacks, if you eat them at the same times every day, ensure your blood sugar levels remain steady.
Regular eating provides a continuous fuel source for your body, and that plays a role in mood stability.
However, if you suspect that your blood sugar could be dipping frequently, consult a doctor as this might mean you have hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia causes a need for frequent eating.
- Never Skip Meals
You may not always be in a mood to eat, especially in the morning when you have a busy day ahead and you are running late, so your instinct is to rush out, no breakfast.
That is not wise. When you skip meals, you reduce your body’s ability to assimilate food, which means you are more likely to overeat during your next meal.
When you are hungry, a bad mood is inevitable. Sometimes when people seem mad for no apparent reason, a lunch date fixes them up and leaves them content and happy.
Foods That Boost Your Mood
Protein slows carbohydrate absorption in your blood, and also increases the release of norepinephrine and dopamine. Norepinephrine and dopamine are neurotransmitters that are popularly nicknamed “happiness hormones”. An increase of dopamine and norepinephrine improves your energy and mood.
Smart protein choices include poultry, eggs, tofu, seafood, and so forth.
Not all vitamins will help with mood improvement. Specific ones like vitamin D which helps relieve mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). One source of vitamin D I sunlight, which explains why going out in the sun when you are low makes you feel better. People who have SAD experience depression during winter when the sun doesn’t come out.
Sunlight (before sunscreen application) may be the best source of vitamin D, but it is not the only one. You can get vitamin D from certain foods too. They include low-fat milk, soymilk, and egg yolk. A multivitamin that contains vitamin D is also a good idea.
Other vitamins that help ease depression and improve one’s mood are folate (vitamin B-9) and vitamin B-12.
Foods that contain folate include lentils, oranges, broccoli, oatmeal, and dark, leafy greens. You can get B-12 from lean beef, cottage cheese, and salmon.
Foods that contain soluble fiber (for instance, complex carbohydrates) help in slowing sugar absorption into your bloodstream. They also increase serotonin, which is another “happiness hormone”, a chemical that improves your mood.
Foods that contain fiber include beans, peas, oats, pears, and Brussels sprouts.
A deficiency of iron in the blood (anemia) has been linked to anxiety, depression, irritability, poor concentration, and restlessness.
Iron deficiency is a highly common nutrient deficiency, even amongst first world nations. Iron is a mineral which makes up 5% of earth’s crust. The urge to eat dirt or clay, particularly among children and pregnant women, occurs mostly in areas where there is iron deficiency in available nutritional choices. This condition is known as pica and is rare in developed countries.
Food sources for iron include cashews, beans and lentils, tofu, fortified breakfast cereals, whole-grain and enriched breads, baked potatoes, and dark green leafy veggies like spinach.
People who eat a fish-rich diet are at a lower depression risk. The reason for this is mostly one nutrient contained in fish: an omega-3 fatty acid known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
Consumption of it has shown to reduce feelings of sadness and pessimism, sleepiness, inability to work, and low libido. These good results were demonstrated in patients who had previously tried antidepressants. The omega-3 was more effective than the antidepressants.
Omega-3s play a role in brain and nerve cell health because the nervous system consists mostly of fat.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids are important for the brain as one of its basic building blocks. Furthermore, brain cell membranes comprise 20% fatty acids.
They are “essential” fatty acids because the boy cannot produce it – you must get it through diet.
Omega-3 food sources include seafood, walnuts, leafy greens, and flaxseed.
Foods You Shouldn’t Overdo as They Can Ruin Your Mood
Don’t do juiced drinks – better to go with blended ones because those leave in the fiber. The fiber in whole fruit not only fills you up, but it also causes a slowing down of energy absorption into your bloodstream.
Juicing removes fiber from the drink. This can result in blood sugar spikes and eventually sugar lows. It’s better to eat the fruit whole. If thirsty, drink water.
Sodas are packed with sugar. Juices are, at least, better because they are nutritious. Sodas not only contain a lot of sugar that will cause sugar highs and lows, it s also devoid of any nutritional value. Such sugar-sweetened drinks are not good to drink when you are in a low mood or at depression risk.
Caffeine consumption has a direct link to anxiety and depression. It causes insomnia and lack of sleep will put you in a bad mood. It may also cause agitation, nervousness, and tremors. Avoid energy drinks as they have high caffeine content.
Other foods to avoid overdoing (or avoid altogether) include refined sugar, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, sodium-rich food, alcohol, and processed food.
You may not have the power to treat your depression, but you can cope with it. As you have seen, diet is one of the things in your power that you can leverage to make you feel better. Link good diet and eating habits with regular exercise, and you will find that you feel much better and are generally happier in your day-to-day.