Feeling sluggish? Snappish? Downright depressed?
Research shows that the bag of chips you had for lunch probably has something to do with that.
The food you use to fuel your body matters. Physically, you already knew that.
You may not have known just how crucial your food choices are to your state of mind.
People often reach for comfort food and sweets to feel better.
We reach for coffee and sugary sodas for an energizing pick me up.
We swear by alcohol and ice cream for stress relief.
Unfortunately, that type of nutrition is not so great for long term mood support.
Here are five important ways meals and snacks can drive your mental and emotional highs and lows
1. Using sugary carbs for high energy actually sends you into depressing lows.
Regardless of what you have been told, carbohydrates are not the enemy.
To feel good, you need a healthy dose of the feel-good chemical serotonin.
Serotonin is a calming, appetite suppressing mood elevator.
Those highly touted low-carb diets will just leave you feeling fatigued, depressed, and irritable.
Before you run to the bakery to carb load, you should be aware that all carbs are not created equal. Complex carbs high in fiber like brown rice, sweet potatoes, and beans improve state of mind, while simple carbs only offer a short-lived pleasure boost resulting from sugary sweets that quickly drops off and leaves you feeling down.
2. Sugary and high fat foods can become tasty monkeys on your back.
Scientific studies suggest a strong connection between sugar, cravings, and food addiction. Brain scans reveal that ingestion of sweet, fatty foods light up sections of the brain reserved for pleasure, much like addictive substances do. Unfortunately, just as drugs send addicts on a cycle of brain damaging craving and satisfaction, these types of foods contribute to a similar process of temporary highs and subsequent feelings of depression and low self-esteem.
3. Omega-3 omission keeps you down.
Omega-3s are key factors for mood and memory support. A regular diet of fish, flaxseed, fortified eggs, and walnuts is a good way to obtain the appropriate amounts. Insufficient amounts of Omega-3 has been shown to adversely affect a person’s state of mind, leading to issues of depression, negativity, and impulsivity.
4. Saturated fat stops you in your tracks.
Saturated fat tastes really good. But it is ultimately bad for your brain. Greasy fried foods, burgers, and the like are linked to immediate sluggishness, possible depression, and even ultimate dementia. Fat is difficult for the body to breakdown, the resulting extra effort is what leads to that initial post-meal feeling of fatigue and brain fog.
5. Neglected nutrients muddle the mind.
Your state of mind is greatly impacted by a lack of key vitamins and minerals. Consider the effects of the following nutrient deficiencies:
- insufficient iron leads to attention deficits, fatigue, and depression. Mental efficiency is supported by a diet that includes red meat, beans, liver, and egg yolks.
- inadequate thiamine appears to impact sociability. Low amounts of the nutrient contribute to feelings of low energy and mood as well as a decreased self-esteem and a desire to withdraw from others. Certain cereal grains, pork, and eggs provide sufficient amounts of thiamine.
- deficient folic acid exacerbates depression. Combined with B12, folic acid treats depression well and, on its own, is an excellent support for pharmaceutical antidepressants. Eat more green vegetables, oranges, nuts, and whole-wheat breads to boost intake.
If you believe your diet might actually be altering your moods in ways you never intended, take steps to improve your food choices now. Enjoy a state of mind better supported from the inside out.