Come On, Get Happy: Use Food for a Better Mood
Feeing down and not sure what’s eating you? It could be what you’re eating.
It may be hard to swallow, but food can affect your mood.
“A recent study suggests that eating a healthy, balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet and avoiding inflammation-producing foods may be protective against depression,” Uma Naidoo MD noted in a feature she wrote for Harvard Health.
“Another study outlines an Antidepressant Food Scale, which lists 12 antidepressant nutrients related to the prevention and treatment of depression. Some of the foods containing these nutrients are oysters, mussels, salmon, watercress, spinach, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, and strawberries.”
Dr. Naidoo says you can improve your mood – and your digestive system – with these steps:
- Eat whole foods and avoid packaged or processed foods, which are high in unwanted food additives and preservatives that disrupt the healthy bacteria in the gut.
- Instead of vegetable or fruit juice, consider increasing your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits without added sugars/additives are a good choice too.
- Eat enough fiber and include whole grains and legumes in your diet.
- Include probiotic-rich foods such as plain yogurt without added sugars.
- To reduce sugar intake at breakfast, add cinnamon to plain yogurt with berries, or to oatmeal or chia pudding.
- Adding fermented foods such as kefir (unsweetened), sauerkraut, or kimchi can be helpful to maintain a healthy gut.
- Eat a balance of seafoods and lean poultry, and less red meat each week.
- Add a range of colorful fresh fruits and vegetables to your diet, and consider choosing certain organic produce.
Writing for WebMD, Elaine Magee, MPH, RD states: “Basically the science of food’s effect on mood is based on this: Dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior.
“A better diet can help, but it’s only one part of treatment. It’s important to note that just like you cannot exercise out of a bad diet, you also cannot eat your way out of feeling depressed or anxious.”
Magee also offers some upbeat dietary advice for those of us feeling a tad sad. We’ll serve up the highlights, but for those who hunger for a bit more meat, click here.
- Don’t banish carbs — just choose ‘smart’ ones
- Get more omega-3 fatty acids
- Eat a balanced breakfast
- Keep exercising and lose weight slowly
- Move to a Mediterranean diet
- Get enough vitamin D
- Select selenium-rich foods
- Don’t overdo caffeine
Dr. Naidoo warns that we should be careful about using food as the only treatment for mood, and when we talk about mood problems we are referring to mild and moderate forms of depression and anxiety.
“In other words, food is not going to impact serious forms of depression and thoughts of suicide, and it is important to seek treatment in an emergency room or contact your doctor if you are experiencing thoughts about harming yourself,” she says.
We all want to enjoy a feeling of sustained energy and alertness throughout the day. Much of that energy and alertness will come from eating a diet filled with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, low-fat dairy and healthy fats.
MealPlanMap.com can help bring a smile to your face and keep it there throughout the day. Our user-friendly and intuitive recipe program will provide a diet plan that is not only delicious but also easy to follow – and extremely effective for weight loss and improved health.
Our Healthy Weight Plan is similar to the vaunted Mediterranean diet – and it’s just one of five delicious offerings.
John McGran has been writing about health and weight loss for several national companies since 2000. He brings his knowledge of diets — and his passion for dropping pounds — to Meal Plan Map because he believes it is the future of smart, stress-free eating and improved health.