Eating our favourite foods can put us in a great mood – at least temporarily. But did you know that what you consume affects your mood on a chemical level? Research suggests that certain foods influence your mood—for better or worse. This is because diet changes can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and emotions. As stated by registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of the 2010 book Eat Your Way to Happiness, “The link between what you eat and your mood, your energy, how you sleep, and how well you think is much more immediate” as compared to the link between what you eat and your physical health. “What you eat or don’t eat for breakfast will have at least a subtle effect by mid-afternoon, and what you’re eating all day will have a huge impact today and down the road”. So if you are looking to improve your eating habits, and in turn, your mood, here are some tips on what to do:
Bring on the carbs
Studies have shown that low-carb dieters are more likely to feel tired, angry, depressed, and tense than those who get the recommended amount. However, carbs consumed should be complex carbs— those that are high in fiber and packed with whole grains. Simple carbs such as candy, cake, cookies, and other sugary foods have a negative effect on your mood, leaving you with a short-lived burst of energy followed by a tired, cranky feeling.
Your mood suffers once blood sugar levels drop. According to research reported by NBC News, eating every four to five hours will keep your blood sugar levels steady and may help to keep your mood stable. Keep in mind that meals or snacks should comprise of high-fibre, low sugar choices for optimal results.
You would have undoubtedly heard that healthy eating is beneficial to your health and well-being. And this is definitely true. In fact, according to a recent report published in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Journal of Science, insufficient thiamine (a nutrient found in yeast, nuts and meat) can cause “introversion, inactivity, fatigue, decreased self-confidence, and a poorer mood”. Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamin E and resveratrol are also strongly linked to better cognitive function and mood. The easiest way to stick to your good mood diet is to prepare your own food so that you know exactly what goes into them. But for those short on time, simple shortcuts include staying away from processed foods and foods with high sugar content. Instead, choose foods that are high in vitamins, good carbs, omega-3, and protein.
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