Could it possibly be true that what we eat can affect our mood? Well simply put, yes.
And then our mood can often influence what we chose to eat and drink which can be a downwards spiral of making more and unhealthier food choices. In order to avoid this, we need to know how exactly food affects our mood and what to avoid to prevent symptoms of anxiety, depression or just irritability.
Causes of mood altering foods
There are many foods that may have either a positive or negative effect on our mood. Here are some that are a common issue for people:
- Sugar - Is commonly linked to causing negative effects. Fluctuations in blood sugar greatly affect our moods and energy levels. We get energy spikes after eating sugar then the demoralizing lows.
- Artificial Sweeteners & Colourings - The brain can also react in mood altering ways when we eat some artificial sweeteners or colouring as your body does not know how to process them. A very common ingredient in diet sodas, aspartame in particular can cause serious issues in your brain. Side effects of aspartame can be panic attacks and depression.
- Caffeine - While a coffee a day can do good things for your mood, too much caffeine can make you anxious or nervous as it is a behaviour altering substance. If you suffer from anxiety try cutting coffee out of your diet for a period of time and see if you notice any improvement?
- Dairy - If we have a lack of the enzymes required to digest a certain food, our moods can also change for the negative. A common example of this is an inability to digest lactose and therefore many dairy products.
Food allergies can also be a cause of changes in mood. Some of us can become sensitive to foods caused by delayed food allergies that we are completely unaware of. Sometimes we don’t see the effects of an allergy on our body for years. Talk to your healthcare professional about whether you can be tested for food allergies or undertake an elimination diet to start to discover what makes your body thrive and what doesn’t.
How To Use What We Eat To Benefit Our Moods
We can start by avoiding the foods that negatively affect our moods. Try avoiding added sugars and chemical additives and eat whole foods wherever possible. Most packaged foods, junk food, sodas, and fruit drinks have potential to cause a problem. It’s always best to make your meals based around fresh vegetables and have protein. Protein can help slow the absorption rate of carbohydrate in your blood which not only keeps you satisfied for longer but helps to level out your blood sugar and hopefully your mood. Try chicken, fish, tofu, and eggs.
You could also try supplementing with vitamin D. Vitamin D can be really helpful in boosting your mood and can help ease depression especially in those winter months where we may be lacking in this vitamin.
Another tip is to eat breakfast. Leaving home in the morning without adequate fuel for the day can cause your mood to change. We all know someone who turns into a different person when hungry (think Snickers commercials). So make sure you have healthy snacks with you and have something every 5 hours will help maintain your blood sugar levels and avoid sugar spikes or lows. This should also help maintaining your mood.
You won’t like this one, but try to avoid alcohol. Alcohol is a depressant and can have many negative effects on your mood. Try cutting it out for a period of time and see how you feel.
If none of the above seem to help I would suggest going to see your doctor, naturopath, or wellness coach for further advice. They can help you get on track and give you some personalised advice.
What has been your experiences with food altering your mood? And what worked best for you?
Charlotte is passionate about helping people lose weight and keep it off. Currently studying to be a health coach at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and can be found at - http://topratedweightlossshakes.com and http://todaysbestweightlossshakes.com