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6 ways your food affects your mood

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We all know the positive benefits of a healthy diet. Eating right gives you more energy, can improve the way you look, and is good for your heart, digestion, and muscles. What many people don’t realize, however, is that eating well can also improve your mood!

The food we eat triggers chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alters our behavior and emotions. So, make eating right a priority this New Year by following these suggestions:

  1. Eat Regularly. Food is fuel, and when you go too long without eating, your blood sugar sinks and your mood will drop. There’s even a colloquial term for it: “hangry” – that is, the act of being angry when you are hungry. So, aim to eat small snacks that are high in protein every four hours. And, don’t forget breakfast!
  2. Enjoy the carbs! With movements like the Atkins diet, carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation. However, carbohydrates provide our body with an important brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin can elevate our mood, suppress appetite, and has a calming effect.  Be careful when choosing your carbs, though. Not all carbohydrates are created equal. The best kind of carbs, called complex carbs, are high in fiber and have whole grains. Consult your doctor for more information about what the recommendation is for your ideal carb intake. This will depend on many factors including your age, gender, and the intensity and frequency of your workouts.
  3. Include omega-3 fatty acids. This “good fat” has been linked to improved mood, memory, and optimism.  Omega-3’s can be found in salmon, flaxseed, walnuts, avocados, canola oil, and omega-3 fortified eggs.
  4. Reduce your fat intake. Foods that are high in the “bad fat” like potato chips, fried foods, and certain deserts are likely to make you feel depressed and lethargic.  And, saturated fat has been linked to dementia.
  5. Limit Caffeine.  Don’t worry; you don’t have to skip your cup of Joe in the morning. However, try to limit your caffeine intake to two cups a day. Too much caffeine can incite anxiety, nervousness, and mood swings. Because caffeine is a stimulant, when it leaves your system you are likely to experience a drop in your mood and energy level.
  6. Protein, protein, protein. Benefits of eating enough protein include more energy, better sleep, decreased appetite, and higher and more stable mood. A good way to start your day is with a protein-rich breakfast like quinoa cereal, a protein shake, eggs, or cottage cheese with fresh fruit. These kinds of meals will provide consistent energy throughout the day and prevent fatigue in the late afternoon. Dairy products contain lots of whey protein which will help you feel more relaxed.

Therapy Changes is joining with Lindsay Shearer of Preventative Holistic Medicine (www.preventativeholisticmedicine.wordpress.com) for an exciting seminar to learn the tools it takes to break free of unhealthy patterns and develop practical solutions to better health and better mood.

The Nutrition of Mental Health
January 2nd, 2014
5:00 – 7:30pm
3939 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123
FREE Refreshments and Giveaways!

Starting the New Year right is important, and many people benefit from additional support and encouragement during this process. This seminar is intended to give you the education, tools, and guidance you need to establish a solid foundation for health in 2014. We look forward to seeing you there!

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