Life throws things at us that we simply can’t control. Whether it’s a traffic jam, a problem at work, or a cranky toddler, we all know how these little problems can quickly add up leaving your mood deflated.
But did you know that your diet could actually help you deal with life’s daily stressors and keep your mood stable throughout the day? Picking the right foods can go a long way towards increasing your resiliency when you’re faced with unexpected sources of stress or when things just aren’t going your way.
How mood and food are linked
Medical research studies suggest that certain foods help improve brain function and may even reduce the risk of anxiety and depression. And, the right foods will keep blood sugar levels stable, which is a key factor in your energy levels. Most of us have experienced the mid-afternoon slump that may result from low blood sugar or eating foods that simply don’t keep you full and satisfied for long. And feeling sluggish never does our mood any favors, does it?
But, when we’re feeling down, it’s all too easy to turn to the vending machine or junk foods. These “comfort foods” that offer no nutritional benefit can leave you caught in a vicious cycle of continual low mood, blood sugar crash, and depleted energy, leading you to reach for more of these foods for a pick-me-up.
Though it can be a hard habit to break, eating a healthy and balanced diet that’s right for you can do wonders to help you cope with stress and feel better emotionally. And it’s never too late to reap the amazing benefits of a healthy diet that improves both your physical and mental well-being.
The best foods to eat for mood
While a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is an obvious healthy choice, a few standout foods seem to boost mood more effectively than others. Try incorporating these foods into a healthy, balanced diet to benefit from maximum mood-enhancing effects:
- Spinach. Leafy greens are often praised as a nutritional powerhouse, and in fact, they are. Spinach contains B vitamins that help with energy levels and mood, and can help you cope with stress better. The numerous vitamins and minerals in leafy greens like spinach may also help boost memory and cognitive performance.
- Fatty fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon and sardines are brain-boosting fats that can help fight off depression. Omega-3s may boost serotonin and dopamine, which are brain chemicals that, in low levels, can lead to mental health issues and a depressed mood.
- Pumpkin seeds. Pepitas, as they are often called, are a good source of magnesium. This mineral helps support sleep and relaxation. It may also help calm nervousness and anxiety, and can improve PMS symptoms.
- Olive oil. This staple of the Mediterranean Diet is rich in monounsaturated fats, which help with neurotransmitters that aid in the brain’s function. Look for high-quality, extra virgin olive oil to get the maximum benefits.
- Eggs. Getting enough vitamin D can help stave off mental health problems such as dementia, and eggs are a good source of this nutrient. Eggs also boast a high amount of choline, which is a nutrient that boosts brain health. An egg for breakfast is a quick and easy way to get a protein boost that can stick with you until lunchtime.
Confused about all the diet advice out there, and wondering what’s right for you? At Garcia Weight Loss, we provide our patients with completely personalized weight-loss plans to ensure that you’re following the best diet plan for your individual needs and goals. Contact us today for your no-cost consultation to learn more!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on June 6, 2018