Have you ever noticed that what you eat and how you feel is completely connected? What you don’t eat is just as important as what you do it. You know the term comfort foods, but do you know what it brings you comfort? Can comfort foods help you feel better? These are just some of the questions that we will answer. We will also look at ways to eat so that you can lift your mood. Some foods help more than others. Knowledge is – and always will be – the key to knowing yourself and the world around you. You have the power to change how you feel by changing how you eat.
You know when you are sick, you want some old fashion chicken noodle soup to help you feel better, but do you know why? We as human are social people. No one likes to be alone. When we are sick we want to be loved and cared for. When we are feeling down or depressed we often crave foods from our childhood.
The smells of chicken coming out of grandma’s kitchen, freshly baked cookies from mom, fresh-baked pies, all of these bring back memories of love. Bites of these foods have been shown to lift your mood, fill your heart with feelings of well-being, and have been known to ease the feeling of loneliness. So, if you find yourself feeling down, go to your favorite diner and order a classic homestyle meal. Worried about your diet? Keep reading, you may find that you need to ditch the diet.
Diet and Depression
Dieting is bad. Do you need to lose weight? Then you need a lifestyle change. That might seem blunt and maybe even a little mean, but it’s the truth. Restricting your calories, holding back the carbs, or jumping on the fad diet wagon can actually cause your depression. Yes, you need to have a calorie deficit, meaning you should be burning more than you consume, but that does not mean you should be starving yourself to lose that last ten pounds. Studies have shown that dieting takes us away from our friends and family and mealtimes when we should be socializing. It puts a wall up around us. Also, it deprives our body of what it needs.
Have you been craving that chocolate chip cookies from your favorite bakery? Do you want to have a slice of chocolate cake? Then do it. As long as you aren’t consuming a whole dozen of a cookie or an entire cake in one sitting, it’s not going to be as bad as you think on your body. Depriving yourself of your cravings is going to make it harder to lose weight because it feels like punishment. Constantly punishing yourself is going to lead to depression.
The solution is to eat well-balanced meals and everything you crave in moderation. Eat a smaller piece of cake, drink a smaller glass of soda, give into your cravings a little and don’t deprive yourself.
There are some foods that will naturally help your brain to produce serotonin. This is the chemical that fights off depression and will help you to actually feel better, not just band-aid the situation. We are going to go down the list so that you can see where you can fit in a few in your day.
1. Brazil Nuts – these are going to give you a boost of a mineral called selenium. If you are deficient in this mineral you are likely to be depressed, cranky, on edge, and irritable. A great way to use them, besides munching on a handful, is to add them to your salad or eat them in yogurt.
2. Oily Fish – your brain needs the omega threes. It helps it to function. Getting enough will boost your mood and lift your spirits. You only need 1-3 servings a week. You can make tuna salad for lunch. Have some Salmon for dinner. Don’t want to cook it? This is a great opportunity to try a night out, which will also help you to lift your head over the wall of depression.
3. Oats – These tiny little guys will help to boost your mood by stabilizing your blood sugar and keeping you from having a mid-day sugar crash. Try a tablespoon of peanut butter and a handful of dark chocolate chips mixed with it for a midday snack. Grab a bowl for breakfast.
4. Banana – There are so many great things in bananas that you would be hard-pressed to replace it with anything else. Vitamin A, B6, and C, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, iron and carbohydrates. All of these are known for lifting your spirits and helping your body to function. All you are doing is feeding your brain and that’s going to boost function. Grab a banana for breakfast. Cut a banana in half and spread on the peanut butter for an afternoon snack. There are so many great ways to add a banana to your day.
5. Lentils – These are high in folic acid (folate) Folic acid is a known treatment for anxiety and depression because it raises serotonin levels in your brain. Just add ½ cup to your evening meal.
6. Chicken and Turkey – you know that sleepy feeling you get after you eat Thanksgiving dinner? That’s caused by the turkey. Turkey and chicken contain the chemical properties that your body breaks down like melatonin. Melatonin helps your body to relax and thereby helps with depression and anxiety. Add some baked chicken to your lunch. Tossing it into a salad or make a sandwich. You want lean chicken or turkey for the best benefits.
7. Spinach – Did you know that B vitamins and depression have been shown to be linked. The lower your vitamin B levels, the lower your mood tends to be. Spinach is high in these B-vitamins. Add some to your salad. Eating them raw shows to have the best benefits.
8. Dark Chocolate – This is tricky. You can’t have just any chocolate. You need 70% or higher – which may be why its also called bitter chocolate. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants. This will help you to feel better and stay feeling better. Don’t eat the whole bar, you only need a small square or two.
9. Water – Drink your water. You need to drink ½ your body weight in ounces every single day. It helps to flush your body of toxins. The more hydrated you are, the better you will feel.
Now that you know that there are ways to eat so that you feel good, you should see all the foods that you want to avoid to keep feeling your best. Some foods are mood busters and can actually make you feel worse than you did.
- Cold lunch meats – Overly processed, packed full of preservatives, and simply not very healthy – cold lunch meats have been linked to obesity and mood disorders. If you want something easy and good for you, reach for grilled chicken or turkey.
- Margarine – this is simply not good for your heart or your head. Skip it and reach for the butter. Butter is actually much better for you and may even help to boost your mood.
- Potato Chips – The oils in potato chips will actually block out the omega threes that you are trying to put in your diet. You will be left feeling sluggish and lazy. To beat out the depression reach for almonds or raw peanuts to satisfy your crunchy cravings.
Sometimes it simply doesn’t matter what you eat or when you eat. All that matters is who you eat with. Taking the time to sit down with the family can help to boost your mood. It releases the chemicals in your brain that help you to think, rationalize, and communicate. Children who sit down with their family and eat dinner have better grades in school. For an added bonus, cooking together. Prepare healthy meals that can help to boost moods. Teaching children how to cook and eat healthy meals can prepare them for a lifetime.
Not only family meals beneficial, but eating regularly with friends can also help to boost your mood levels. Have lunch with co-workers or friends. Plan a night out with close friends weekly. All of these can help to boost your moods. Humans are social beings and reaching out to friends and family is one of the very best ways to stave off depression. It gives you the opportunity to talk to out your issues and reset your mind.
It is our hope that you see there is more to eating than just what you put in your mouth. It is important to eat well, but it is just as important to socialize while you eat. Learning how to control your mood through how you eat, when you eat, and who you eat with can boost your mood naturally without having to introduce chemicals into your body.