Need a Mood Boost? Eat This.
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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 of 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 and vegetables. 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 and more difficult to get naturally here in Canada this time of year. 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.

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” centers with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the colour, 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.

While eating habits are a very important part of maintaining your mental health, sometimes we need more support. Now, more than ever, there are many different support systems available to help support mental health. If you or someone you know is in need of support, reach out for help. If you don’t know where to turn, try any of these supports and they will help:

Dial 2-1-1 on your phone:

211 is the source Canadians trust when seeking information and services to deal with life’s challenges. https://211ontario.ca

Dial 1-855-310-COPE (2673)

Community Crisis Response Service

York Support Services Network offers the Community Crisis Response Service for persons living in York Region or South Simcoe who are having a mental health crisis, and their family or friends.

By calling our toll free number 1-855-310-COPE (2673) or (TTY) 1-866-323-7785, you can speak with a crisis worker anytime you need to. The crisis worker will provide an immediate telephone/text response in a variety of situations, such as if you are feeling depressed, distressed, lonely, anxious, scared, angry or are worried that you have no where to go.

You can also text us at 1-855-310-2673 or chat with a crisis worker online via our Live Chat. Both of these services are available everyday from 7:00 a.m. to midnight.

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

Grape & Cheese Snack Box

5 ingredients
Course Snack
Keyword carrots, celery, cheese, grapes, no-cook, peanut butter, sunflower butter
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Calories
Author Christine Moran

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Baby Carrots
  • 1/2 cup Grapes
  • 3 stalks Celery chopped
  • 2 tbsps All Natural Peanut Butter
  • 1 oz Cheddar Cheese sliced

Instructions

  • Assemble all ingredients into a storage container and refrigerate until ready to eat. Enjoy!

Notes

  • Leftovers: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to three days.
  • Make it Vegan/Dairy-Free: Use a dairy-free cheese.
  • Nut-Free: Use sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter.

At Harmony House Wellness, combining services that best support mental, emotional, and physical health is our priority. Contact us today for your free consultation 905-836-5666.

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Christine Moran, is a registered homeopath and registered nutritionist based in Newmarket, Ontario. She strongly believes the mind and body are strongly connected to your overall health and wellness. With dedication and compassion, Christine will support you to reach your health and wellness goals through the use of Homeopathy, Nutrition and Reiki. Each modality may be used separately or to complement an existing treatment plan. Christine Moran is a graduate of the Ontario College of Homeopathic Medicine, Canadian College of Natural Nutrition, a certified Reiki practitioner, and a Certified Level II Dental Assistant. Christine Moran is registered with the College of Homeopaths of Ontario.


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