So I don’t know about you, but comfort eating is a real struggle for me. For whatever reason, having a bad day and eating about it seems like a perfectly natural thing to do. And I’m not alone, it’s well known that our mood affects the way we eat.
But what about the reverse? Can your food affect your mood?
Surprisingly or unsurprisingly, the answer is yes. It can. A lot.
We’re complex creatures, a mixture of hormones and chemicals, and with foods full of much of the same, it makes sense that they’d affect us.
Here’s how they do:
Seratonin is a neurotransmitter, in other words, it helps sends messages to your brain. When you’re deficient in it, you tend to feel: anxious and depressed and more drawn to carb-rich foods.
Obviously, if there are bigger issues going on, food isn’t going to fix it all, but diet can be a big factor. If you’re not getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals, then you’re likely to be suffering from a serotonin imbalance.
Fix it with:
Tryptophan – a natural chemical that forms serotonin in your body.
Find it in: oats, milk, yogurt, eggs, fish, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds.
Dopamine, like serotonin, is a neurotransmitter, but it is primarily responsible for telling us that something feels good. When we’re low on dopamine, our motivation is lower, we tend to have a general lack of joy, we feel more lethargic, and we’re more likely to experience carbohydrate cravings.
Fix it with:
Tyrosine – an amino acid.
Find it in: avocados, bananas, pumpkin and sesame seeds, and dairy products.
This neurotransmitter is responsible for healthy gut function, appetite and satiety, and most importantly brain development and cognitive function. If you’ve got too much glutamate in your body, you’re likely to suffer from restlessness, lack of focus and anxiety among other things; and if you’ve got too little, it can cause a number of neurological issues.
Fix it with: naturally occurring amino acids
Find it in: eggs, dairy, and plant foods with high protein content. To be honest, amino acids are everywhere, the key is to not overeat anything, and to go for naturally protein-rich foods with minimal processing.
Ever heard of DHA and EPA? They are two different types of Omega-3 fatty acids and can be found in fish oil. Some scientists believe that people suffering from depression have low levels of these in their blood, and recent research has revealed that in some cases of depression, eating more omega-3 fatty acids soothes mood and reduces the symptoms of depression.
Fix it with:
DHA and EPA
Find them in: shrimp, haddock, mid-Atlantic blue crab (these are all low in mercury)
There’s tired and there’s so tired you become apathetic. The latter is a problem and is often a sign that you aren’t getting enough iron. Typically, we rely on greens for iron but for maximum absorbency, look to lean meat, poultry, and seafood.
What do you need more of in your diet?
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