Chances are you’ve had a ‘bad hair day’ or two in your lifetime, or perhaps experienced the wrath of someone who’s woken up ‘on the wrong side of the bed.’ There are plenty of little things we attribute to our moods throughout the day- good or bad. As it turns out, the food we eat can play a large role in how we feel.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), health is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” In order to function at an efficient level, the brain and body need fuel. That fuel comes in the form of food, and has a direct impact on the function and structure of your brain, and ultimately your mood.
Rasa Troup, M.S., R.D, C.S.S.D., licensed registered dietitian with University of Minnesota Health, clues us in to what should be on the menu if the goal is a happy disposition.
“Protein is essential to a good mood,” said Troup.
Foods like fish, lean beef, chicken breast and eggs just to name a few, contain amino acids. These make up the chemicals in your brain that are needed to help regulate your feelings and thoughts, as well as your blood sugar.
Complex carbohydrates will also help prevent blood sugar drops which are associated with irritability and tiredness. They contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. Complex carbohydrates can be found in foods such as peas,beans, pasta, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.
“A healthy gut will also result in a happier person,” explained Troup.
The gut is responsible for releasing serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate sleep, appetite and mood. A healthy gut can reduce anxiety, depression, and perception of stress. Getting more probiotics in your diet can help make your gut happy. Foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, fermented veggies and miso soup are all high in probiotics.
Studies have shown omega-3 fats appear to have anti-depressant properties. They are found in salmon, anchovies, fresh tuna, flax seeds, walnuts and canola oil.
Timing is everything
When you eat can also have an effect on your mood. Eating irregularly can result in drops in blood sugar, causing one to feel tired and irritable. Eating on a more consistent schedule will maintain steady blood sugar levels, and result in a good mood.
As far as what not to eat- “We should focus on how to eat wholesome foods, rather than what to avoid,” explained Troup. “All foods have a place in our diet in moderation. It’s really more about portion control, rather than labeling food as good or bad.”
Troup’s advice: focus on eating food as close to its natural state as possible. The less processed and wholesome, the better.