By Brenna Robinson
Have you ever thought if the food you are eating is causing you to be depressed? Can you boost your mood by eating the right foods? We often choose comfort foods when we are tired and depressed, but these types of foods often lead to more depressive feelings after eating it, creating a viscous cycle of poor nutrition and overeating. Maybe you should be choosing food based on how you want to feel after eating it versus how you feel while you are eating it.
According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that a diet of junk food or highly processed food high in fat and sugar are more likely to cause a person to feel depressed (Zeratsky, 2012). A diet of junk food triggers inflammation which increases the risk of depression. The Harvard School of Public Health researchers found the women consuming an inflammatory diet such as highly processed foods, red meat, margarine, sugar, and diet drinks increase their risk of developing depression by 41% (Inflammatory Dietary Pattern Linked to Depression Among Women, 2013).
So, which foods should you eat to boost your mood? Stick to whole foods that are rich in nutrients such as fruits and vegetables, lean protein, and complex carbohydrates that give you lasting energy. Eat at regular times throughout the day. Going without food for a prolonged times, makes you more likely to pick up unhealthy, quick foods that will likely give you a crash soon afterwards. When you think you don’t have time for a healthy food, avoid the drive through and reach for nature’s fast foods, such as an apple or orange. Eat fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. The best way to get omega-3 is through food, but you are not fond of fish a supplement will also help. Eat more folate rich foods such as lentils, grains, spinach, and kale. Folate deficiency has been linked to the occurrence as well as the remission of depression (Stein, 2013).
Many of us feel guilty for reaching for a piece of chocolate, a glass of red wine, or a spoonful of peanut butter to comfort us, but they are actually good for your mood. They all contain an antioxidant called Resveratrol that boosts endorphins and serotonin leading to a better mood (Walcutt, 2014). This is one time it is okay give in to your cravings in moderation.
The next time you are having a moody day, check to see what you have eaten. Most likely your foods have consisted of unhealthy processed foods. You can quickly turn your day around with a healthy snack and even indulge in that afternoon chocolate fix or the evening glass of wine without feeling guilty.