Food and Your Mood

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    When it comes to the right kind of foods to eat, there is a wealth of information available and sometimes conflicting, which often leaves us conflicted. As a Wellness Specialist, I remember teaching about following the Food Pyramid as the best guide for what to eat and because carbohydrates were the lowest calorie foods you were encouraged to eat 7-11 servings per day. Are you kidding me?

    Food and Your Mood

    Today that theory has been debunked, and if you want proof that it was a bad idea, check out how many overweight people there are today with health consequences of diabetes and blood sugar control problems, heart disease, etc. Currently 75% of men and 60% of women are overweight. So giving permission to the masses to eat all those carbs in large quantities took its toll.

    There is still conflicting and sometimes false information about the best way to feed yourself, but I do know now that the early food pyramid was the worst diet you could be on. The good news is the pyramid has been stood up on it's head. Current thinking says those carbs should be eaten only sparingly or not at all. That is a huge turnround.

    So are all carbs bad? No - just those "fast carbs" that are processed, packaged and sugar-ladened that quickly digest and lead to sugar spikes and drops. We still do need good carbs, but the "slow" kind which are the ones that require more chewing, digest slower, and keep your blood sugar from spiking. Like fresh vegetables and fruits that are not only loaded with nutrition that your body craves, but are a beautiful array of bright colors.

    This backstory sets the stage for another big benefit from eating healthier - your mood can improve! You don't have to be a negative grump if you just change the way you eat. (Disclaimer: food alone may not solve all your mood problems, but it is an important factor not to ignore.)

    I have noticed the food-mood connection intuitively after eating ice cream and then not being able to sleep and the following day being exhausted and crabby. Or overeating a carb and sugar ladened celebration meal and feeling uncomfortable and cranky and only wanting to "sleep it off". Or having pancakes with syrup for breakfast and within 2 hours I'm HANGRY (hungry and angry). Yes, your food choices affect how your day goes, and you don't want to be the one that people avoid because you are in a bad mood. So let's start by doing a personal inventory.

    Which foods energize you?

    Which foods slow you down?

    Which foods cloud your brain?

    What revelations do you have from your answers?

    Now let's explore some solutions that might help you improve your mood using food. These are just some first steps, and there is always more to learn as you get going.

    Eat foods that balance your blood sugar

    When you eat alot of "high glycemic" foods all day your blood sugar spikes and drops and leads to hormone rushes that affect your mood. Fatigue, difficulty concentrating, mood swings, binge eating, weight gain, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, hormonal irregularities and insomnia are all possibilities, depending on the individual.

    One big set of chemicals that control mood are the neurotransmitters in the brain led by the pleasure "drug" serotonin. These substances determine whether you feel good and energetic or tired, irritable, and spacey. They run on sugar, preferably the form that comes from low glycemic carbohydrates which maintain a stable blood sugar level through the day, slowly feeding these substances into the brain. So eat whole real foods, avoid junk food, focus on "slow carbs" that take longer to digest and eat frequent small meals to keep your blood sugar level.

    Here is a resource for low-glycemic foods.

    How likely are you to adopt this type of eating?

    If likely, what would be your first step?


    Follow a Mediterranean diet
    The key to the Mediterranean eating plan is to eat real food like fresh vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, whole grains, olive oil and lean protein, while reducing ultra-processed, fried and sugary foods. This feeds the brain the right combination of nutrients, which helps boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter that's responsible for happiness and well-being.

    How likely are you to adopt this type of eating?

    If likely, here is a resource for you to get started.

    Choose mood boosting foods for snacks

    1. Grapes
    Grapes are packed with antioxidants, especially flavonoids, which have been found to affect mood.

    2. Raw nuts
    Nuts are full of serotonin, a feel-good chemical that's in short supply when you're depressed.

    3. Strawberries
    Strawberries are rich in an array of vitamins and nutrients like vitamins A and C and manganese to serve as a strong line of defense against brain degeneration, while also boosting the happy chemicals your brain produces.

    How likely are you to adopt this type of snack?
    If likely, here is a resource for you to get started.

    Hopefully this information will get you started on the path toward making mood-boosting food selections so your days will be filled with good feelings and your body with thank you for it. Any stories you want to share?
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    2 Comments

  3. by   NormaSaline
    It must be a gratifying time these days for authors, doctors, nurses, dieticians, scientists who have lo these many painful years been laughing at the food pyramid, shaking their heads when people have insisted that diabetics can eat carbohydrates as they wish, and who questioned the logic of the insulin carbohydrate merry-go-round. With the obligatory, obvious proviso that all of our bodies are different, I too am very very heartened that this nonsensical advice is finally, finally, being questioned.

    This is such a large topic that for me it is ideal to break it down into bite sized pieces. Where to begin? The importance of education? Poverty? Societal inequity? The role of stress? Mental and sexual health? Violence? The power of sugar? Food deserts? Where o where?

    As someone in the medical profession, my personal opinion at this point in my life is the need is at red hot high alarm urgent for effective education. For lack of a better way to put it, if we cannot convince people that eating right is the key to a longer more quality life, we have failed. Period, end of discussion. As nurses, 'community,' is a wide-encompassing concept. And that education must come on a mass scale, as well. Without it, individual education is practically useless, and for me, it's as simple as that.

    Hey, as a start, why don't we rename a few "restaurants?" CADonalds. KFC/DKA. Scarblocks for Starbucks. Popdemise for Popeyes? Just a thought.


    Great article, thanks for posting.
  4. by   mrnurse543210
    Don't forget about olive oil when following the Mediterranean diet!!! Boosts metabolism and mood. I think that anyone that does anything remotely physical should at least be aware of how amazing olive oil is. Just google how olive oil benefits the your physical and mental health. Also did you know that drinking something like 2 bottles of water boosts metabolism by like 10%? That should definitely give you an energy boost and all without caffeine and pills!

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