Need a Mood Boost? Eat This

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right?

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods. While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings.

Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods.

 

MOOD-BOOSTING FOODS

 

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium.

So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits, vegetables and greens. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in too many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and quinoa are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone). So, if you want to relax, try these in the evening.

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

FUN FACT: One study showed that giving one multi-vitamin and one omega-3 fish oil tablet per day to prison inmates reduced the incidence of violent behaviour by 50%!

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

 

MOOD-BUSTING FOODS

 

You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? One study suggests that eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60 percent! This is on top of the research that shows nutrient deficiencies can look like mental health problems.

“But it makes me feel good!”

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centres with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the color, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.

A few other things to avoid are:

  • Alcohol (nervous system depressant)
  • Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)
  • Sugar (messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

 

CONCLUSION

 

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. If you need a mood boost, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

And remember, sometimes “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily. So, try my newest recipe for fruit salad, below.

Recipe (mood boosting): Sautéed Rapini
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

2 bunches of rapini, wash and trim stalks off
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat olive oil and garlic on medium in a frying pan.
  2. Toss in rapini and sea salt and cover to wilt. Stir every few minutes and remove from heat once rapini is cooked (approximately 5 minutes).

TIP: The more you cook the rapini the less bitter and softer it will become.

Rapini is one of the most popular greens in Italian cooking. This dark green vegetable contains vitamins A,B,C,K, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc.

Recipe (mood boosting): Fruit Salad
Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS

1-2 cups watermelon, cubed
1-2 cups cantaloupe, cubed
1-2 cups blueberries, fresh
1-2 cups blackberries, fresh
1-2 cups green grapes

INSTRUCTIONS

Place all fruit in a large bowl and gently toss.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Substitute or add any ready-to-eat fruit, like chopped peaches, or raspberries.

References:

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/food-and-mood

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/how-to-fight-depression-naturally-with-nutrition

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/foods-increase-happiness/

About Me


Hi, I’m Tracy! I create food solutions to feed your life goals. I’m a Nutritionist, chocoholic + superhero fan. Mom to three, wife to one, crazy about all four, and food! When you work with me you’ll learn to savour life and nourish all that it has to offer.

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14 hours ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition
Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy

Nothing like a simple dinner with minimal ingredients and fresh flavours!

Trying to extend my trip with the flavours of Italy! 🤷🏻‍♀️😉🇮🇹

#foodie #simplerecipes #fresh #cutlets #lemon #foodmadegood #healthyfoodmadeeasy #dinner #paleo #digestionsupport #basil #ontherun #fastfood #healthy
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Comment on Facebook

Looks delicious 😋!

2 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

Well, that’s a wrap!! Our Italian family adventure has come to an end! The kids are totally bummed 🙁 out that it’s over and I’m elated that they had such a wonderful time and now miss Italy - like I always do. 🇮🇹 🙂

From the southern most point of the heel, all the way up the coast to the beautiful gargano park that is the spur, to the bustling beach side city of Pescara - and a bunch of stops along the way; Veni Vidi Vici! 😉

Here are just a few notes if you decide to venture into the beautiful country that is Italy:

1. If you venture out of the major tourist areas, expect a slower pace of life and stores to be closed in the middle of the day.

2. Don’t expect a grande latte of any sort, it’s espresso after noon only!

3. If you don’t like fish, get over it - you’ll be missing out. The fish in most parts is literally plucked from the sea within days of eating it, you won’t regret it!

4. Italians might be slow paced but you can’t tell from the driving. For some reason they seem like they are in a hurry to get stuff done when they’re on the road. 🚗

5. Bring money for shopping and make sure you have at least 10 pounds to spare in your luggage when you pack for your trip! Can’t even tell you how many shoes were bought for this family!! 👟😆 Luckily I thought ahead! 😊

6. Italians still don’t believe in queuing up, so if you see what should be a line-up but is just a mash up of people and confusion - try and have a sense of humor about it! No sense in getting frustrated about a different way of life on your vacay! But don’t be shy about telling them to get behind you! I did and they did! 😉😆

That’s it! I’m off to plan next years trip. 😉😆🇮🇹

#vacation #italy #familytrip #salento #vacaymode #rome #pescara #food #lecce #familyadventure #beachlife #heartinitaly #summer2019 #foodie #familylife #pizza #pasta #icecream @ Basilica Santa Maria Maggiore Abitazione Parroco
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Comment on Facebook

Beautiful pictures! It looks like an unforgettable time with great memories! So glad you all had a great time!

Beautiful pictures Tracy - and you pretty much summed up Italy the way I remember it 😉

6 days ago

Tracy Houle Nutrition

When folks travel to Italy the one thing you’ll alway hear about is how delicious the food is, or how foods that are not tolerated well in North America feel fine in Italy!

This trip has been no exception!

Food is still extremely valued and Italians don’t mess around with quality and freshness.

Everything we’ve eaten feels like it was picked fresh today. We’ve even eaten chicken from my husbands great-aunts backyard. (Not caught yesterday 😉)

The last picture is a huge rosemary bush that has the most beautiful aroma! 🌱

#chickencoup #tomatoes #eggplant #pomegranate #figtree #rosemary #gardenlife #growyourfood #quality #over #quantity #fresh #italylife @ Manoppello, Italy
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