You are what you eat: Making better food choices
By Meredith Cox, Staff Writer
While you may not literally turn into pizza if you eat an entire pizza, what you eat has a direct correlation to your temperament. The food choices you make everyday affect your overall mood and feelings and can explain some of the random periods of stress, anxiety, and energy you feel.
Starting with the positive ways in which you can eat to improve your mood, the best foods for happiness are whole, real foods. Our bodies are designed to break down and absorb real, natural foods. This includes lots of fresh produce, whole grains like whole wheat bread and brown rice, and lean proteins such as turkey and chicken. These foods are more nutrient-dense, meaning they have a ton of nutrients and benefits, but also are lower in calories. Get the biggest bang for your buck with these foods packed with essential vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, and natural sugars.
Choose smart carbohydrates. When eaten in moderation, carbs enhance tryptophan levels, which is an amino acid that aids in serotonin production in the brain. Serotonin is a “feel good” chemical that, when in high supply, is a known mood regulator. Stick to whole grains, fruits and veggies, and beans.
Make sure to eat breakfast. Although everyone is different, most people are happier and more focused when they are well fed. Those who skip breakfast often get mid-morning hunger pangs, which leave them feeling hungry, anxious, and cranky. Try having a breakfast with fiber, which will keep you full all morning. Foods high in fiber include apples, oatmeal, and almonds, all which can be incorporated into many tasty breakfasts.
Limit your caffeine intake. While coffee and other caffeinated drinks can help give you a little boost throughout the day, be conscious of many cups you consume throughout the day. More than four cups a day can lead to poor sleep, which will directly affect your mood quality. Also, caffeine can work against your water intake, and may leave you feeling tired. Be sure to drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated and feeling good.
You may notice a more negative, stressed, and abrasive mood if your diet consist of a lot of processed foods. These foods are pretty empty in the sense that they contain very little nutrients, but are packed with a lot of other junk, including refined sugars, trans fat, and high sodium. While these foods may you feel good for a short time during and after consumption, they soon will leave you feeling bloated, unhappy, and gloomy. Items such as candy, fried foods, and sodas all have been shown to spike your blood sugar, which leads to mood swings, unstable energy levels, and irritability.
So remember this: a high quality diet is associated with a high quality mood. Treat your body with respect by filing it with healthy, real, natural foods, and it will be kind in return.