If you suffer from stress and/or anxiety and are looking for natural ways to improve your mood, the answer may be hidden right in your cupboards or refrigerator. If you’re feeling blue or an unusual sense of sadness, there are certain foods that you might want to consider cutting from your diet, and others you might want to try adding more of to help ease those anxious thoughts and ward off depression.
Unhealthy eating isn’t just a problem for your physical health, such as your waistline or heart. It can be a problem for your emotional health and wellbeing, too, and can have a negative impact on the brain, how we think, and how we feel. Not only can our moods influence the things we eat, but foods can also temporarily influence the chemistry of our brains, so it’s always important to be mindful of the things you eat.
Soda and Juice
Carbonated beverages like soda and fruit juice are packed with sugar. They’re designed to quickly absorb and get released in the bloodstream, which causes a rapid rise in your energy levels followed by a crash, leaving you feeling tired and irritable, and can even impact blood sugar control. In addition to the mental changes, these types of beverages can also cause weight gain. As an alternative, try drinking seltzer or club soda mixed with lemon or lime. It’s a much healthier option while still being carbonated. If you’re wanting to drink fruit juice, the best way to make sure there isn’t any sugar added is to make your own. For example, freshly squeezed orange juice. You can also use your blender to make a smoothie, and all it takes is a few simple ingredients: Your fruit of choice, ice, and Greek yogurt.
It might not be something you’d ever think to consider, but white read – especially bagels, can cause your blood sugar to spike and then crash, which can create havoc on your mood, impact your ability to stay alert and focused, as well as decrease energy levels. Many white breads are made from white grains, which are nothing but empty calories and have no nutritional value. If you’re still wanting to eat bread, look for ones that are 100% whole wheat or 100% whole grain. If the first ingredient listed says “wheat flour” then it is still highly processed and something you should stay away from.
Peanuts are good for you as they are rich in monosaturated fats. Monosaturated fat is considered the “good” fat as it can help reduce your cholesterol, lowering your risk of heart attack or stroke. Peanuts are also an excellent source of protein and Vitamin E. As a common snack food, it’s important to remember to stay away from those store-bought, canned, flavoured peanuts. Why? Because they contain high amounts of sodium and MSG. MSG can leave you feeling week, tired, and moody, and can also cause headaches. If you’re wanting to purchase peanuts, the best way to do that is to buy shelled peanuts in bulk. If you’re still looking for that salty flavour, you can roast them in the oven at home with a pinch of sea salt and pepper for added flavour.
Cakes, Pastries and Other Baked Goods
As most people are aware, things like cakes, cookies and muffins are all bad for your health. They contain high amounts of saturated oils and refined sugars, which can lead to feelings of lethargy as well as cause your mood to fluctuate. If you’re going to indulge in these types of foods, they should be something you eat on a once-in-a-blue-moon basis. You can find some healthy, low-calorie alternatives to these baked goods via Delish.com.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
If you suffer from depression or have constant mood swings, you might be deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. Eating things like salmon, sardines and mackerel can keep the brain’s messaging chemicals, also known as neurotransmitters, functioning properly, which can have a major improvement on your mood. It’s recommended to have at least one serving of fish per week. For a complete list of food sources containing omega-3 fatty acids, click here.
While they might seem bland, oats are actually a great, healthy breakfast food. Not only do they have a low glycemic index, but they also contain the mood-boosting mineral known as selenium. Oats slowly release energy into your blood stream which not only helps keep your blood sugar at a stable level, but also leaves you feeling emotionally stable, too.
Chicken and Turkey
Chicken and turkey are both great sources of protein, and they also increase the body’s intake of the amino acid known as tryptophan, which is used to create serotonin. If you suffer from insomnia, this can be helpful in regulating your sleep as well as reducing symptoms of depression and other mood disorders that can sometimes have a direct link to lack of sleep.