by Kahlia Meeuwsen, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 5th February, 2019
Our moods can be affected by so many things, there are some things we may not even notice! Our daily stresses, the moods and behaviors of others and even food can play key roles in how we're feeling. That's right! Food can actually have a hand in the moods we experience.
The positive side of that is that it means your mood can be impacted in both negative and positive ways, depending on the foods you eat. Let's dive into just how food plays a role in your moods, and what you can do to create positive effects!
Different foods effect us in different ways. This is something most of us are familiar with. Some foods are healthier than others, and provide better effects when used in our bodies. What we aren't always familiar with is how our moods can change with the food we eat.
Each of the main food components, like sugar, protein, complex carbohydrates and more, can provide different effects within our bodies. The connection between moods and what we consume is worth keeping in mind, as it can help to guide us towards healthy foods.
These healthy options, like protein, vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids can do things like relieve disorders that are related to our moods, decrease cravings for sugar and help us to be more alert. When we're consuming these foods and feelings healthier, our moods can improve as a result.
Many of us are familiar with the idea of a "sugar high". While this isn't a real thing, too much sugar can certainly add to the immediate energy we have a bit. This is why we can often find that we begin to crave sugary foods when we're exceptionally hungry.
That said, it's not exactly an ideal way to get the energy you need. At one time, sweets may have been useful in giving enough of a boost to hunt down a real meal, but today it's all too easy to resort to sugar-filled substances for all of our meals.
The reason sugar isn't the ideal way to gain energy is because the boost is typically rather short-lived. When our blood sugar spikes, it is followed by a deeper drop, resulting in a sugar crash. This crash can leave us with low levels of energy, irritability and a general feeling of unwell.
When we're feeling this low, we can begin to have more sugar cravings because our body wants to level out again and sugar is the quickest way to get there. This rampant rise and fall is why it's often better to keep blood sugar regulated and make use of healthier options to get energy.
While the food you eat may not cause depression directly, it can certainly help or hinder the effects of depression on you. Some foods, like candy, soda and others high in sugar, can leave you more prone to the symptoms of depression.
On the other hand, there are also foods that can help with avoiding inflammation, leave you feeling better and give you a bit of a boost against depression. Keep in mind that while your diet can provide some assistance in fighting depression, it's not going to make it go away entirely. It's an ally, alongside professional treatment and good habits.
Like depression, anxiety can also be affected by what you consume. In some cases, it could be sugar that is playing a negative role. However, anxiety is often specifically prone to the effects of caffeine. This can be troubling because many of us like to use caffeine as a tool to keep up our energy levels.
Things like energy drinks, coffee, caffeine pills and even tea need to be handled with care in order to avoid a case of the jitters, and added problems with anxiety. These things can tend to create excess energy, which may direct itself into our anxieties if we don't have a way to work it out productively.
If you use caffeine regularly, make sure to take note of how much it takes to create that uncomfortable energy, and how much is actually helpful. That way, you can navigate the helpfulness of caffeine without getting an overload.
Skipping meals is something to avoid when you're hoping to keep your mood balanced. When you skip meals, your blood sugar can become too low, causing sugar cravings and moodiness. It also makes healthy food choices more difficult, because you start to crave the things that will give you the quickest boost.
When you get around to eating, there is a higher chance you'll overeat. Instead, it's best to at least eat something small and healthy every few hours to keep your body at a regulated level. Something like fruit, vegetables, yogurt or nuts are great ways to get a quick pick-me-up.
Largely, carbohydrates are those that are most likely to leave you in an unpleasant mood. This largely includes sugar, so essentially anything that is high in sugar should be handled carefully. These things have larger effects on your blood sugar, which can make moods more likely to shift in negative ways.
Furthermore, white starches, such as those you'll find in white bread, rice and more, can also cause shifts in your blood sugar. That's why it's recommended that you aim for more natural options, whole grains and choices that have less of an effect.
Too many of these foods can leave you cranky, irritable and just craving more of the foods that don't really help. Because of that, it's a good idea to limit them and try to move to foods that sustain you a bit better. You'll not only feel healthier, but your moods will be much more regular.
Just as there are foods that can leave you more prone to negative moods, there are also ones that can help to improve your mood, or at least keep it a bit more stable. Foods that don't create such large blood sugar changes are helpful in this endeavor.
Largely, these healthy food options include those that contain plenty of vitamins, protein and fiber. Vitamins can help in a wide variety of ways, depending on the vitamin that is in a given food. Vitamin D is one that is worth making sure you get plenty of, for example.
In addition, protein is great for helping the effects of carbohydrates to last longer. It's also known to help with keeping you full for a longer period of time. Finally, fiber not only assists with efficient digestion but also slows down how quickly sugar gets into your blood stream, keeping things more regulated.
Creating a healthy relationship with food may not be an easy thing, but it can go a long way towards helping you to feel better overall. In addition, it can be a large part of creating a healthy lifestyle. It doesn't have to be difficult! Learning to listen to the needs of your body, rather than the wants of your mind, can be a huge help.
On top of that, things like regular exercise, a healthy balance of work and free time, positive relationships and a whole lot of self care can keep you in a better mood more regularly.
If you do experience issues with anxiety or depression, another mood or mental disorder, or just want some extra help, seeing a professional therapist can also be ideal. You can also seek out a nutritionist if food choices are a concern for you. There's never anything wrong with getting the help you need to live a happier, healthier life.