Exploring the relationship between what you eat and how you feel can have a huge impact on your health. Forgetting the importance of nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods can alter your brain chemistry and lead to a host of mood-related issues, such as depression, anxiety, brain fog and zapped energy levels. Improving your diet can help give you positive feelings, clearer thinking, more energy and a calmer mood – something I am sure we all would benefit from!
So what can you do to improve your mood through food? Here are some simple tips.
1. Eat Regular Meals
If you are a meal skipper, your blood sugar will tend to drop, leaving you feeling tired, irritable and depressed. Eat regularly and choose foods that release energy slowly. Focusing on high fiber carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats for breakfast rather quickly digested carbohydrates like sugar and white flours (think doughnuts), will make a huge difference in how you feel and your hunger levels throughout the rest of the day.
2. Increase Your Fruit and Vegetable Intake
Vegetables and fruit contain natural protection against cognitive decline. Choose fruits and vegetable from all parts of the color spectrum, especially berries, tomatoes, orange and yellow fruits and dark leafy greens.
3. Eat the Right Fats
Focus on getting more omega-3 fatty acids from foods like oily fish, flaxseeds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds. Consume oily fish about twice per week and get a variety of plant-based omega-3 fat sources on a daily basis. Try roasting pumpkin seeds for a crunchy snack or sprinkling ground flaxseed on your morning oatmeal. Avoid excessive amounts of saturated fat, especially from meats and highly-processed foods. Strictly avoid all products made with partially hydrogenated oils, as these are a significant source of trans fat.
4. Stay Hydrated
If you don’t drink enough fluids, you may find it hard to concentrate or think clearly. Go for beverages like water or herbal and green teas. Teas such as green tea contain a variety of antioxidants that can help fight depression.
5. Feed Your Gut
Your state of mind is closely connected to how healthy your gut is. When the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract is out of balance, this can lead to a variety of symptoms. These symptoms are not always digestive (e.g., bloating, constipation) and can impact behavior. Eat more high-fiber plant foods as well as probiotic-containing foods such as yogurt to help keep those beneficial bugs happy!
Editor’s Note: This article was submitted by Malorie Blake, MS, RDN, LDN, CLT. Malorie is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified LEAP Therapist with Hanover Hospital.