We all have times when we need help managing the everyday stressors of life. Of course, it’s normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed, but there are ways to keep your mind and body in check without resorting to over-the-counter medications or other harmful substances.
While hitting the treadmill for a few miles or enjoying a leisurely walk through a park is good for the health, new scientific studies are reinforcing what the foodies of old have been telling us for years – you are what you eat.
Overloading your regular meals with processed foods and artificial sweeteners risks not only your waistline but also your ability to regulate how you feel. If you want to boost happiness, eat more vegetables and fruits. If you’re going to lower the symptoms of depression and loneliness, try the Mediterranean diet rich in omega-3 fats.
The fact is there are “mood foods” available at any grocery store that can help you create a healthy, nutritious, and less processed diet without losing the flavors and textures we all love. This doesn’t mean you have to be a monk and give up every snickers bar for the rest of your life. It means you need to consider more balance in your food nutrition so you can get your caloric needs met and your mental health supported.
What is Mood Food?
When we eat well, our brains function better. When our brains function better, we feel happier and more relaxed. Eating a balanced diet can help us deal with stress and frustrations in a healthy way, and even reduce symptoms of depression or other mood disorders.
There is a direct connection between the microbiome in your gut and the emotions you are cycling through on a daily basis. It actually goes both ways. An upset stomach can be the result of anxiety and vice versa.
Probiotics and other natural foods are being introduced into the diets of mental health patients all over the globe right now. Psychologists are studying the effects and publishing solid evidence that the better we cultivate a healthy gut biome, the more likely we will experience calm and content emotions.
- Fatty fish improves brain development and lower the risk of depression.
- Dark chocolate boosts the feel-good chemicals in your brain.
- Fermented foods promote a healthy gut biome, increasing your overall sense of well-being.
- Bananas help regulate blood sugar, which in turn regulates mood flexibility.
- Berries lower the risk of anxiety and depression.
- And so many more!
What are the Benefits of Food & Mood Nutrition?
The more refined and structured your eating habits, the better the foundation for you to experience fewer mood fluctuations. This creates an overall positive outlook on life and grants you the ability to focus so you can achieve more in your day. That feeling of accomplishment is a highly satisfying result.
Combined with regular exercise, sleep, and stress management tools (meditation, yoga, etc.), mood food can revolutionize your daily life. This includes dealing with serious mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and other critical symptoms that may be holding you back from feeling whole.
How to Change Up Your Diet for Better Moods
The goal is to integrate more natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables into your regular diet. This way, you unlock the “feel good” neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin.
To start, make sure you are getting enough hydration from water. Shoot for 8-10 glasses a day and try to integrate a 20 min walk into your morning or evening routine for exercise. As for the food nutrition side of the equation:
- Each well-balanced meals around the same time each day
- Select high-quality sources of protein
- Avoid refined sugars or carbohydrates
- Have at least 6 services of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit per day
- Embrace omega-3 fatty foods like fish and nuts
- Stick to healthy snacks and have them readily available to lower the risk of sugar
- Plan ahead so you can cut off any urges for unhelpful food
Should You Try Mood and Food Diets?
We recommend starting your mood food journey by reducing processed foods and sugars to as little exposure as possible. Once you have done that, try out more vegetables and fruits in your meal planning and see if that doesn’t directly affect your overall sense of mood and well-being.
Not every fix works for every human body, but the science and understanding of gut bacteria are growing at exponential rates. There is no reason to doubt you can improve your mood by sticking to a well-balanced and nutritious diet by targeting those foods sure to leave you feeling relaxed, calm, and maintaining a more positive outcome.
We say to try a mood food change to your diet for a couple of weeks and journal each day. At the end of two weeks, go back and read through your notes and see if you can measure a difference. You may be surprised at how much healthier and calm you will feel from something as little as swapping a chocolate chip cookie for a banana.