5 Foods You Should Be Eating To Boost Your Mood
Are you sitting in front of you laptop right now feeling like crying into your morning coffee? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Ideally, we’d like to be in a good mood all the time. However, through multiple contributing factors our moods can fluctuate more than the weather: good, sad, irritable, angry, happy, excited, depressed, anxious, and so on and on.
If you can relate to this, you’re definitely not alone.
The good news is that we can help boost our moods through good mood food. But its not just about what you eat, it’s also about how you eat, and understanding what’s going on in the various systems in the body. We also need to address the fact that our moods can also be dictated to by external things beyond our control, like grief, separation, stressful situations and so on.
What we can do is to eat in a way that helps the body cope with these various stresses.
So, How Can You Eat To Boost Your Mood?
Many people who experience mood swings also experience fluctuations in blood sugar. This often occurs when we eat foods high in carbohydrates which release glucose into our blood stream quite quickly, resulting in a surge in blood sugar and triggering the hormone insulin. But, what goes up, must come down, and this is when we get the low in blood sugar we get hangry, irritable, and start to crave sugars, result in a massive mood change.
Stress is another major factor. In stressful situations the body reacts as if its being chased by a tiger, and if your being chased you need energy, and we get that from glucose. So the body triggers a craving, and indirectly contributes to imbalances in our blood sugar. Stress can also lead to poor digestion and absorption of vital nutrients needed to support our energy, hormone synthesis and neurotransmitter development.
So if we want to eat to boost our moods we need to first eat to balance our hormones (i.e insulin and cortisol in this case).
You can already see a connection between these 2 hormones and our mood. All of our hormones are connected so if one is out of sync then it has a domino effect on the others and can also contribute to mood issues such as PMS and crying spells and irritability around the time of our periods.
What Can You Do To Balance Your Hormones?
1. Eat Small And Often
This can help keep hunger at bay and balance your blood sugar so that you don’t end up with that “hangry” feeling!
2. Have Protein With Your Complex Carbohydrates
Protein such as poultry, lean meats, eggs and fish slow down the release of glucose, giving us longer more sustainable energy and keeping our blood sugar levels maintained.
3. Eat a Low GL Diet
GL or Glycemic Load of food determines how much sugar is in each food and thus how it affects our blood sugar and our moods (see examples below).
4. Support Your Stress
Through some stress management techniques, such as deep breathing, exercise, and walking in nature, will help you manage your stress. You’ll need to find something that is both enjoyable and relaxing to help balance your stress hormones and thus your moods.
You will be doing yourself a disservice by just increasing these foods and not eating in a way that will help balance your hormones, your blood sugar and looking after your stress in your life. There are certain nutrients that are needed in the body as co-factors for neurotransmitter and hormone development, and if we are deficient in these because either were not getting them through food or were not absorbing them because of issues in our digestive system these can also have an impact our moods.
5 Foods You Should Be Eating To Boost Your Mood Are:
1. Whole Grains
Consuming low Glycemic Load / Complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains (brown rice, quinoa, oats) as these will help slow down the release of glucose and balance your blood sugar. Ensuring to have them with protein will go another step further to support this balance. They are also packed full of B vitamins which are necessary co-factors for neurotransmitter health.
2. Abundance of Green Leafy Vegetables
Eating a wide variety of colourful vegetables can help increase a lot of the nutrients that may be deficient. Particularly green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, bok choi and brussels sprouts, are particularly high in folate, magnesium and calcium which are beneficial for neurotransmitter health.
3. Dark Chocolate
We have all heard that chocolate can contain certain nutrients to support mood. Dark chocolate, particularly above 85%, have a good range of magnesium which can aid relaxation and support hormonal balance .
4. Oily Fish
Omega 3 fatty acids have been widely studied for their effect on mental health functioning and it is also believed that it can aid the release of “feel good” chemicals in the brain. It is richest in oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and fresh tuna as well as flax seed, nuts and seeds.
Serotonin is often described as the “happy” neurotransmitter and is made from the amino acid tryptophan found in eggs, soy foods, spirulina, fish, cheese, pumpkin and sesame seeds, beans, pulses and red meat. You are likely to get all you need if you eat some “complete” protein every say such as lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and soy or a combination of beans and grains for vegans.
Eating a range of these foods will not only provide important co-factors for brain health, but will also work wonders for your gut health. There is a lot of research out there now referring to our gut as “the second brain” and they have identified that there are signals from our gut to our brain that can also influence mood. So, by eating a good range of vegetables as well as cultured foods like yogurts or fermented products, can not only help gut health but our brain health and moods also.
If you want to learn more, our podcast “Cravings and Binge Eating” is available now.
Looking for a way to boost your good mood? Join Elysia’s Good Mood Food programme now!
Elysia Doody is a Functional Nutritionist & Exercise Coach specialising in female health and wellness.
She’s embraced Functional Medicine to address her health concerns, and is now helping as many women as possible in a similar position. Taking everything she’s learned through education, her own health, and working with clients, she’s keen to share it all through online programmes.
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