By: Leanne Ely
If you’re susceptible to mood swings or if you have a lot of those days where you feel like curling up under a blanket and waiting for the gray clouds to clear away, you may want to consider changing up your diet a little bit.
The foods we eat are responsible for our skin’s glow and our hair’s sheen . . . for the strength of our bones and the health of our heart. But did you know that the foods we eat also have a great impact on our mood?
Here are some foods you may want to snack on if you’re feeling sad:
Walnuts, chia and flax: Alpha-linolenic acid (one of the forms of omega-3 fatty acids found in these three foods) has been shown to make people feel more chipper.
Fish: Not so much a snack food, but a great food to make you feel good thanks to its high levels of omega-3!
Dark chocolate: There’s a reason why we’re drawn to chocolate when we’re feeling down. Dark chocolate has a couple of strong mood-boosting compounds in it (theobromine and phenylethyamine) that can lift your spirits on a gloomy day. Eating an ounce of dark chocolate (think a serving size of roughly 6 Hershey Kisses) a day can lower stress hormone levels that lead to high anxiety, too! Chocolate only counts as a health food in small amounts and it needs to be at least 70% cocoa (preferably organic) in order to be considered good for you!
Greek Yogurt: A nice creamy bowl of thick Greek yogurt isn’t only delicious, but it can also raise dopamine and norepinephrine levels in your brain which lead to happy feelings. That’s thanks to the high amount of protein in there.
Foods high in folate, B12 and Vitamin D: These guys are quite important as far as mood is concerned. Studies have shown a link between blood levels low in these vitamins and depression. Foods high in folate that are great for snacking: oranges, sunflower seeds and broccoli.
Some foods that are good sources of B12 include cottage cheese, milk, shellfish and eggs.
Vitamin D is proven to increase serotonin in our bodies, helping to ward off the blues. Not many foods are rich in Vitamin D, but egg yolks and fish with bones are a couple of sources that make for good “snacks.” You may want to take a Vitamin D supplement, especially if you live in a climate limited in sunlight (a natural source of the special vitamin.)
If you’re often irritable and on the crabby side, here are some strategies that will help keep your blood sugars nice and stable, which will have a positive effect on your mood.
Eat some protein with your snacks and meals. Protein will also help slow down that sugar absorption in your blood so you keep feeling happy throughout the day. Greek yogurt and walnuts are excellent choices since we now know how they contain compounds that can add to those happy feelings! Other great choices would be eggs and wild salmon.
Eat when you’re hungry. When you nourish your body with fuel, your blood sugar will stop dipping and you may find this helps a lot of your mood issues!
Avoid refined carbs. Stop drinking sodas and eating candy because of the severe spikes and drops they cause in your blood sugar, leaving you tired and crabby. The same thing happens when you eat white bread and bagels.
Add fiber to your meals. Incorporating more foods rich in soluble fiber into your diet helps to slow down your body’s absorption of sugar, so mood swings are less likely to occur. Think foods like carrots, pears, apples and sweet potatoes.
Above all else, remember that avoiding sugar and processed foods will go a long way towards improving your mood!