It’s a fact: what we eat can have a direct effect on our mood. Have you ever noticed that after eating a big meal you are ready for a nap? Or after eating a high sugar candy your energy drops drastically after about an hour? When our energy levels swing drastically our moods do too.
Here is a guide to the best good-mood foods:
A lot of people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD because of the lack of sunlight during the winter months. There are foods we can add to our diet to counteract the effects. Besides natural sunlight, which is difficult to enjoy in the winter if you live in the northeast, beef liver, milk, egg yolks and fatty fish such as wild salmon and sardines all contain vitamin D. You can also research supplementing your diet with a daily intake of at least 1000mg of vitamin D.
Another way to boost your mood through a healthy diet is by eating foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid. Vitamin B12 and folic acid can be found in beans greens, meats, fish, poultry and dairy.
A mineral called selenium acts like an antioxidant in the body. Foods rich in selenium include: whole grains such as oatmeal or brown rice, beans, legumes, lean meat, dairy foods, nuts and seeds and seafood.
Fish contain omega-3s, which have been shown to have positive effects on mood swings and depression. Recent studies even show that people who consume fatty fish such as salmon or sardines have lower symptoms of depression. Some other sources of omega-3s are ground flaxseed, avocado, nuts and seeds, hemp seeds and olive oil.
Most people love chocolate and believe it or not in small amounts dark chocolate, with at least 70 percent cocoa, can have an effect on our endorphins or feel-good chemicals.
Just as the foods I mentioned can make you feel better, there are foods we consume which can make us feel worse. The biggest “mood crushers” are foods which are high in saturated fat or sugar, alcohol (although we think of it as a feel-good drink it is actually a depressant) and caffeine. While we associate caffeine with jolts of energy it actually can increase irritability or give us a sudden burst of energy that ends with fatigue. Consuming alcohol or caffeine can also affect our sleep. When sleep is disturbed or inefficient we tend to be more irritable.
Bottom line: when we eat a healthy diet balanced with foods that are high in antioxidants, fiber, unsaturated fat, and lean protein we are providing our bodies with numerous benefits, boosting our mood is just one of them. And of course, incorporating exercise and stress management into your daily routine can also help increase your mood.
Do you notice how certain foods affect your mood?
By Rachel Lerner for SheSpeaks