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Boost Your Mood

How do you usually feel about an hour after you eat? Sluggish and depressed? Or energized and happy? We’ve all heard of emotional eating. It’s when we turn to food to make us feel better when we’re down in the dumps. But surprisingly enough, some of those foods we turn to when we’re looking for comfort may be making us feel even worse. Studies have shown that certain foods can have an impact on mood, whether it is positive or negative. So, let’s accentuate the positive.

Here are some Mood-Boosting Dos and Don’ts

  1. Do get your fair share of dark chocolate. Yum! In a 2006 Appetite study, researchers found that women who ate chocolate were more likely to experience joy afterwards than women who ate an apple. Some of those chocolate-eaters also experienced guilt, though. So, don’t overdo it if you want to feel good.
  2. Do eat a few tart cherries before bed. You know how you feel after you get a good night’s rest, right? Ah-mazing! Well, a 2012 European Journal of Nutrition study found that the melatonin found in tart cherry juice is beneficial in improving sleep quality and quantity. The juice is going to have excess sugar without fiber, so I recommend switching out for the whole fruit.
  3. Do make a point to eat whole grains. Whole grains are a great source of carbohydrates, which fuel the body and help boost the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin. Rolled oats, amaranth, quinoa and buckwheat are great choices.
  4. Don’t eat processed foods. Processed foods often contain trans fats, which are believed to cause inflammation that interfere with those feel-good neurotransmitters, like serotonin. One study found that people who consumed more trans fats over time are much more likely to become depressed. 
  5. Don’t consume refined sugars. When you eat sugar, you can expect a sudden blood sugar surge, which can lead to nasty mood-deflators like fatigue, forgetfulness and poor concentration. The brain requires an even supply of glucose to function at its best, so avoid the sweet stuff if you want to keep that good mood going.
  6. Don’t load up on starchy foods.  Starchy foods, especially refined carbohydrates like white flour, have a similar effect as refined sugars in that they will spike your blood sugar levels. If you’re avoiding processed foods, though, you’ll likely avoid the refined carbs. For example, store-bought bread is a processed food. Phew. One less thing to worry about.
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