While your mood sometimes dictates what foods you eat — hello ice cream – what you choose to eat can conversely affect your moods. While it may seem harmless enough, what you choose to eat for lunch could impact how you feel all afternoon. We all know about the “hangries” — being so hungry that you become cranky and angry — but once you’re fed, your meal can actually enhance or detract from your mental state. Here are 5 ways in which the foods you eat (or don’t eat) rule your moods.
Sugar levels. Most obviously, fluctuations in your blood sugar levels can have an incredible impact on mood. Low blood sugar can cause crankiness. On the other hand, a sharp spike in blood sugar can provide a sense of feel-good before sharply crashing into the pit of despair. A good idea to keep your moods stable is to maintain balanced blood sugar levels with a diet low in added sugars, combined with enough protein, fat, and fiber.
Neurotransmitters. There is a reason that chocolate is renown the world over for boosting happiness, besides the textural pleasure. It is loaded with the neurotransmitter serotonin — aka the happy chemical. Many other foods contain neurotransmitters, like dopamine and tryptophan, in varying amounts — such as spinach, turkey, seeds, and avocados. While these aren’t in very substantial quantities, eating a varied diet of good mood foods certainly can help. What’s more, certain foods, especially comfort foods, encourage the release of endorphins, another powerful group of infamous mood boosters.
Allergens and sensitivities. Unknown or unheeded food sensitivities can make you feel less than awesome. Symptoms like bloating, acne, and lethargy can shatter even the best of moods. If you have been feeling generally down in the dumps, take a look at the allergens in your diet — gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts, etc. — and consider ditching any that you consuming regularly for a two week trial period and reassess how you feel.
Deficiencies. Having too little of a certain vitamin or mineral in your system can easily throw off your moods. B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, folate, and magnesium, among others, are important components for a balanced mind. If you are deficient, things may not be functioning the way they are meant to, which could mean a lowered mood. A good multivitamin is a great place to start, and you can tailor your diet from there. Of course, consult your doctor before embarking on any new supplementation regimens.
Psychobiotics and the gut. The brain-gut connection is indisputable. Not only do the little critters living in your digestive system have a profound affect on your weight and immune system, but they impact your mental outlook as well. They are known as psychobiotics – a subset of probiotics — simply described as bacteria found in certain foods that can help deliver mood-boosting chemicals to the brain. Studies have hinted that regular consumption of these types of probiotics can have a mood-lifting impact on your brain, which is a great reason to stock up on yummy yogurt and sauerkraut!
While exercise is also an important factor, eating a diverse diet of healthy, wholesome foods can have an incredible impact on how you feel each and every day. Be the best you can be by following a healthy, fun, well-rounded lifestyle filled with good, healthy foods.
Jordyn Cormier January 25, 2015