Many factors contribute to our mood. For example, gloomy weather can make us feel sad while hearing our favourite song can put us in a good mood. Even smelling certain scents; that sandalwood candle, for example, can help us feel at ease. Although, what we hear, see, and touch can affect our mood, one of the biggest influencers is what we eat. The foods we consume trigger brain responses that affect our mood, levels of concentration, and our motivation.
How food affects our mood
When it comes to food consumption, many people focus on the external effects. Good carbs vs bad carbs, fatty acids; so much of diet culture focuses on weight. Although food can be a great source of energy or muscle building, it is also important for our brains. Our brains use 20% of the calories we consume. Along with this, the foods we eat can trigger the release of certain hormones that influence our emotions.
One major influence on our mood is serotonin. Serotonin is a hormone produced in the brain and intestine. It is a hormone believed to help stabilize our mood, and low levels of serotonin are linked to depression and low moods. We want our bodies to produce more serotonin but they can’t do it on their own. Fortunately, tryptophan is an amino acid that supports the production of serotonin. This amino acid is found in foods such as eggs, cheese, salmon, milk, spinach, and seeds. Eating these foods tells our bodies to release hormones that make us feel good.
Feelings of depression might be a result of low levels of magnesium. Research shows that magnesium plays a role in regulating anxiety as well. When our brains become overstimulated, magnesium can bind calming receptors to help us feel more at peace. Also, it helps to regulate the release of cortisol, which is the hormone our bodies release when we’re stressed. The great thing is that magnesium is in a wide variety of foods. Foods such as kale, spinach, other leafy greens, black beans, kidney beans, cashews, and whole grains.
Foods to avoid
Knowing the right foods to eat is as important as knowing which foods to avoid. Foods that can negatively affect your mood are foods high in processed sugar and trans fats. We all love the sugar rush we get when we drink soda. Yet as the saying goes, what comes up must come down, and this includes our moods on a high sugar diet. The trans-fat in processed foods has been shown to increase irritable and angry moods according to a recent study.
Ideas for meal plans
Knowing which foods to eat and which foods to avoid is only half the solution. The other part includes putting this knowledge to use and feeling the positive effects of having a healthier diet. Here are some examples of positive mood-boosting foods to eat for the different meals of the day.
Breakfast: Any combination of eggs, berries, yogurt, bananas, and whole-grain toast.
Lunch: Focus on eating leafy greens and protein such as kale salads with salmon, or chicken bowl.
Dinner: Whole grain rice or brown rice is always a good base for vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, and tomatoes. Legumes and black beans are a fun way to add more flavor to a rice bowl.