Do you frequently go on restrictive diets or over-exercise? If you’re feeling down, take a closer look at how your food choices may be impacting your mood.
Feeling a little down lately? If you’re someone who consistently restricts food through diet or exercises frequently without properly replenishing your energy storage, this isn’t uncommon. In fact, inconsistent nutrition (or malnutrition) and co-occurring mood disorders is prominent.
Low mood, irritability, brain fog and difficulty concentrating can all be an effect of malnutrition. If the above sounds like you, here are five ways to boost your mood with food.
1. Eat regularly
Simple, but this can’t be emphasized enough. The brain’s preferred fuel source is glucose, which is produced by breaking down carbohydrates. The first step in balancing your mood is ensuring your brain is getting regular consistent nutrition.
Work towards eating every 2-3 hours, this will give your metabolism a boost, provide regular glucose (energy) to your brain and body, and prevent a sudden swing in hormones.
2. Keep it Simple
One of the most common barriers to preparing meals and snacks when struggling with low mood is simply the lack of motivation to do so. It can be hard to find the energy to wash dishes, think of meals, and shop for food when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Keeping it simple and relying on quick-prep, ready-to-eat options can be supportive of your lifestyle, no matter how busy you are. Staple options can include: bread for sandwiches, nut butters, single serving yogurts, cereal, snack packs and frozen meals.
These are all quick ways to nourish your body and involve minimal effort.
3. Get in those Omega-3s
While the research is still growing, there is a large body of evidence pointing towards the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and a lower prevalence of depression.
Omega-3 fatty acids play a critical role in the function of the central nervous system, so boosting your intake of Omega-3 rich foods may serve to boost your mood. They can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, as well as plant-based sources such as chia, walnuts and flax seeds.
4. Choose Dopamine-rich Foods
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that affects the mood and pleasure centers of your brain, and is commonly known as the “happy hormone.” There is research that suggests increasing intake of protein-rich foods, containing the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, may help boost production of the neurotransmitter. Include protein-rich foods such as: eggs, dairy products such as milk, cheese, yogurt, fish, nuts and seeds may help give you a happy boost.
5. Boost your Vitamin D
Many people in the US are deficient in vitamin D, and there is significant evidence that shows low vitamin D levels are correlated to depression and other mental health disorders.
Increasing your consumption of vitamin D-rich foods such as mushrooms, fortified foods, fatty fish (there’s a theme here – more fish!), and egg yolks, in addition to increasing your time outside to ~15 minutes a day may help boost your vitamin D levels. You can also request a vitamin D level test through your primary care provider to check your current status.
And remember, happiness starts from the inside out.
Adapted from the original article.
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Jaren Soloff, RD, CLE is a San Diego-based Registered Dietitian, Certified Lactation Educator and Nutrition Therapist. She brings an integrative approach to her practice, implementing complementary healing methods alongside evidenced-based practices for supporting your health, from preconception and through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. Her practice, Full CRCL embodies the natural shifts that women experience during their life and reproductive cycle, and how they can return to their intuition + innate strengths. Through her practice, Jaren works to empower women to reach their most authentic health, so they have the space to nurture, create, and transform our world.