Do you find yourself angry and irritable more often than you’d like? Does your mood swing out of control at certain times of day? While larger issues could be at play, the cause of your increase in agitation and aggression could be your diet. Let’s take a look at the foods that are most likely responsible for an increase in aggression:
Studies have shown that consumption of trans fats interrupts fat metabolism in the brain, leading to aggressive behaviors. To be specific, trans fats interfere with omega-3 fatty acid metabolism. Since the standard American diet already lacks in omega-3s (in favor of omega-6s), this throws the body way out of whack, which manifests as anger and anxiety. Additionally, trans fats cause inflammation in the body, which isn’t going to do anything to improve your mood. Ditch the Crisco and opt for whole foods instead.
Liquid stimulation! Coffee is one of the most stimulating foods you can put into your body, which can be both beneficial and detrimental. When you drink too much coffee (an amount which is different for everyone since we all tolerate coffee differently), it can induce an increase in heart rate, blood pressure and stress levels. This is because caffeine blocks calming adenosine receptors, which allows other, more active and energetic neurotransmitters to take hold and flood you with energy. Unfortunately, because of this, too much coffee can turn small annoyances into high agitation and crankiness. That being said, too little coffee when you’re addicted can lead to withdrawal crankiness as well. Try to nix your addiction to coffee and enjoy caffeine as a treat every other day to keep your moods more stabilized.
Too few carbs
We all know that dieting can make you more cranky and aggressive than usual. Ridding yourself of an addiction to certain foods can be a good thing, but if you aren’t giving your body the nutrients it needs, you’re not going to feel great. Consuming too few carbohydrates, as is common in some Paleo dieters, may cause your mood to steadily deteriorate. Some of us, especially some women, may not thrive on ultra low-carb diets. Pay attention to your energy levels. If you’re low-carb and you feel sluggish, cranky and tired all the time, you probably aren’t eating enough carbohydrates. Your bad mood is your body just trying to tell you what it needs.
Too much sugar
Have you ever eaten a giant cookie and felt absolutely horrible afterwards? Have you, as is natural when you are feeling horrible, become steadily crankier with those around you? Yeah, that’s because you’ve consumed way too much sugar. This is especially apparent in children. Ever notice the post-sugar crash tantrum? Spikes in insulin levels directly affect our moods. Regulating your blood sugar by avoiding excess sugar and eating foods rich in protein, fat and fiber can help to regulate aggressive moods.
For some people, an unfortunate side effect of artificial sweeteners is anger and aggression. While the mechanism that causes this isn’t exactly clear, agitation is clearly associated with artificial sweetener consumption in some. If you’re going to eat something sweet, opt for natural sweeteners, like honey or maple syrup, instead of filling your body with artificial replacements.
While the aforementioned foods can be anger-inducing, certain foods can have a calming effect on your outlook and behavior. Mango and lemon both contain a compound called linalool, which promotes lower levels of stress and anxiety when inhaled. Many teas are also extremely calming, especially those lacking caffeine, like chamomile. And, of course we cannot forget—drumroll—dark chocolate. One bite of good chocolate makes you realize that the universe isn’t so bad after all.
Overall, keeping a consistently healthy, wholesome, moderate diet will help to keep your moods balanced. Pay attention to what you eat. If you feel consistently off when you eat a certain food, try not eating it for a while. Your diet should make you feel good, not grumpy.