“Don’t feed a mood food.” — Weight Watchers Leader E.R.C., Agawam, MA
The foods you eat can change your mood. When I’m stressed, angry or depressed, I want to be comforted. Instead of asking for that much needed hug or unloading my issues to a friend, I choose to eat comfort foods, like macaroni and cheese, cheese pizza, chocolate chip cookie dough, wine and bread. See a trend? These are all foods, primarily high in carbohydrates, that your body can turn quickly into sugar. Your body and mind ride a short high and then you crash, usually craving more. So now you’re still depressed, angry, or sad and wanting more comfort food. The problem isn’t solved, and you could be creating a bigger problem.
Eating foods that fuel your body well, can help you relax, feel happier and be less tired (without drinking more coffee). We all know we should eat better, but why not eat better because you want to feel better? This change in thinking has helped me discover foods to help reduce my stress levels and increase my happiness! I now rush to the grocery store when I’m almost out of blueberries declaring I need my antidepressant. Below are some examples of mood-enhancing foods and a few of my personal favorites.
Many of these you can find in prepared foods such as frozen foods and soups. I have found that I don’t have to go out of my way to include many of these foods in my everyday diet.
1. From Sad to Satisfied
Magnesium and tryptophan can help the body produce serotonin which can help you feel better and lift your spirits. Foods rich in Omega-3s (essential fatty acids) can also help lighten your mood.
Try these satisfying foods: halibut, turkey, long grain brown rice, black eyed peas, lentils, kidney beans, pinto beans, baked potatoes, bananas, spinach,walnuts, almonds, cashews, unprocessed peanut butter,
Also, consider starting your day with foods that are high in fiber, like oatmeal and apples. These will help fill up your belly and take a longer for your body to break down. You’ll have more energy than if you ate a bagel and drank coffee—both of which your body turns quickly into sugar and quickly burns. If your mind isn’t thinking about food, it can get on with its day!
Try these high-fiber foods: oatmeal, apples, citrus fruit, strawberries, peas, barley, beans
2. Eat Away Your Stress
Good and bad stress will always be in our lives. How we choose to deal with it is another matter. Each morning for a few weeks, I would eat blueberries in low-fat yogurt. I noticed a shift in my attitude. I felt happier, and I couldn’t explain it—except for the blueberries which I didn’t use to eat on a regular basis. It was a tough time (I was unemployed and scrounging for work), but I was not completely depressed. I was stressed out. After a few weeks of eating blueberries, I decided to do some research. I found out that these little berries can act as a mild antidepressant. They will not take the place of the real drugs, but they did help. Also, I found out that vitamin C can help reduce stress. Perhaps that is why my body now hungers for oranges and blueberries, which I eat almost every morning.
Try these stress-reducing foods: blueberries, fruit with vitamin C like oranges and kiwis, almonds, vitamin B-2, vitamin E, foods rich in magnesium (see above), zinc
3. Get Energized
If you’re feeling tired after a restful night, a bit of vitamin B-12 could help. Skip the caffeine rush. It’s amazing how many people say they “need” caffeine. In truth, the rush is enjoyable. However, there is a fine line between getting the mood-improving kick and going overboard and heading into nervousness, irritability and dependency (which is what could happen if you drink more than one cup of coffee or caffeinated beverage a day). If you need a second cup, go for a cup of green tea.
Try these energizing foods: oysters, clams, crab, lobster, Swiss cheese, yogurt, milk