5 Ways the Food You Eat Can Affect Your Mood for Better or Worse
From childhood, you’ve probably been taught, “you are what you eat.” While your diet is only one of many factors that can influence your health and behavior, sudden and “unexplainable” mood swings are often the result of the food you eat.
Each food is chemically unique and will, therefore, have a unique chemical impact on your brain and body. Your moods affect your food cravings and snack choices. The choices you make, however, can also drastically affect your moods. Read on to learn 5 ways the food you eat changes the way you feel:
1. Sugar: The Highs and Lows
One of the world’s most popular ingredients, sugar, is also one of the most dangerous. Excess sugar can wreak havoc on both your body’s physical and emotional health. It will leave you feeling low and unable to cope. After sugar is digested, your body experiences a spike in blood sugar and in energy. Almost immediately, however, your body becomes prone to crashes and low blood sugar. These lows increase your susceptibility to depression, anxiety, and mood disorders. It is safe to consume moderate amounts of sugar. An understanding and awareness of the link between sugar and mood stability, however, can help you avoid experiencing extreme lows.
2. Breakfast: Power in Consistency
You’ve heard it your whole life: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Believe it or not, the way you begin your mornings will influence how the rest of your day plays out. Study after study shows that there is power in the consistency of breakfast. Eating a balanced breakfast each day will not only improve your ability to focus and reduce fatigue and irritability, it will lead to an improved mood. When your body has the calories and nutrients it needs to function properly, your brain can focus on mood regulation. Taking the extra five minutes to prepare breakfast will positively affect your mind and decrease the likelihood of poor moods.
3. Hormones: Imbalances caused by diet
As hormones move throughout your body, they regulate all types of moods and behaviors. Many hormonal balances can be drastically altered by dietary choices (both poor and smart). If sufficient amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and fats are not consumed in your diet, your body will experience a deficiency and not be able to function properly. Insulin resistance, toxicity, and inflammation—all caused by food—can cause hormonal imbalances. Increase your daily servings of nutrient-dense food to help balance your hormones naturally.
4. Fiber: Protection against mood swings
A diet that is high in fiber is a diet that better protects you against mood swings caused by increased glucose in your bloodstream. Fiber slows your body’s absorption of sugar, which in turn helps your mood stabilize and you will not fall victim to a sugar rush and post-sugar crash. Foods that are rich in fiber include whole grains, berries, apples, and beans. Consistently eating fiber throughout the day, and coupling a sugary snack with a high-fiber food, will leave you feeling happier and better able to manage your emotions.
5. Awareness: Not using food to cope with other problems
Just as what you eat affects your mood, why and when you eat also play large roles in regulating your mind and mood. Emotionally eating, eating when bored, and eating to distract yourself will almost always lead to poor food choices—and bad moods, anxiety, and sadness later in the day. Be aware of your current mood and state of mind before you eat something. Otherwise, your mental health will pay the price. If you can recognize a bad day or an upset mood when it arises, you will have more control of your situation and will not turn to a 2 lb. bag of chocolate to make your troubles disappear. Only eat when you are hungry and do not eat to become numb.
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