Feel-Good Foods to Boost your Mood
At this time of year, many people find themselves suffering from the ‘January blues.' Perhaps your body clock is out of synch after the Christmas holidays. Maybe you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) or are just on a downer now that all the seasonal excitement is over.
Whatever the reason, you can help your body to beat the blues by including plenty of ‘feel good foods’ in your daily diet.
This is a no-brainer and it’s one that we reach for frequently when feeling low. But why? Eating chocolate triggers a release of endorphins which stimulate the production of serotonin in the brain. This is a mood-boosting chemical which helps to inhibit the production of the stress hormone, cortisol. That’s why we often find ourselves reaching for chocolate when we are stressed.
Tip: Choose dark chocolate as its fat content is lower. Just a couple of squares will do the trick just as easily as devouring a whole bar of milk chocolate.
Low Gi (Glycaemic index) carbs provide a slow release of energy and can help to regulate your blood sugar and mood swings, making a bowl of porridge the ideal breakfast. Not only will it keep you feeling full until lunchtime, you will find yourself less inclined to crave sugary snacks.
Tip: Enjoy porridge with a little cinnamon or sliced fresh fruit of your choice.
It’s never a good idea to cut carbs completely from your diet as this can cause irritability and depression. Bananas provide an excellent source of natural carbs as well as potassium, which is another ‘feel good’ nutrient.
Tip: Did you know that bananas can also aid sleep? If you suffer from insomnia or broken sleep, try eating one before bed.
Research has indicated that deficiencies of Omega 3 fats can increase susceptibility to depression and anxiety. Salmon, sardines and mackerel are all good sources of Omega 3 so Including oily fish a couple of times a week in your diet can help to keep you feeling on a more even keel.
Tip: Pregnant women should limit their intake of oily fish to just once a week.
There’s a reason some people swear by chicken soup when you are feeling blue. I’m sure you’ve heard of the book Chicken Soup for the Soul, right? Chicken and turkey contain high levels of tryptophan, which helps in the manufacture of the feel-good chemical, serotonin. Next time you’re feeling down, try a turkey sandwich or a bowl of chicken soup.
Tip: It’s also good for insomnia, night owls.
If you suffer from low levels of selenium then going nuts could be just what you need. Selenium can help to combat feelings of tiredness, anxiety and irritability. Perfect if you have been burning the candle at both ends or are feeling stressed.
Tip: Just three brazil nuts are all you need for your Recommended Daily Intake (RDA) of selenium. Eat them whole as a snack with some fruit or crush/chop them and serve over a salad or stir-fry.
Green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, kale, spinach and broccoli contain high levels of folate. Folate is a B vitamin, a deficiency of which can cause depression, tiredness and reduced immune system.
Tip: Add a cup of fresh spinach to your salad or stir-fry to get one third of your recommended daily folate intake.
Fruit and veg
Increasing your intake of any fruit and veg is guaranteed to help you feel good. The nutrients and antioxidants in all plant-based foods help to boost energy levels and immunity. By eating more ‘raw’ foods, you can improve your mood and stay well-balanced.
Tip: To get all the nutrients you need, add as many different coloured fruit and veg as possible.
Foods to avoid
To help keep your moods well-balanced, avoid foods that contain caffeine, alcohol and sugar. These can cause mood swings, sap your energy levels and make you jittery or anxious. Drink plenty of water instead.