When you’re down-and-out and need an instant pick-me-up, do you reach for a carrot? No, your first thought is to indulge in a dessert or a luscious, melt-in-your-mouth bar of chocolate. Did you know the foods you eat directly affect your mood? Eating certain kinds of food can boost your mood and even alleviate depression to a certain degree. Today’s Outlook brings you a list of the top mood-boosting foods to guarantee you a wonderful, natural high!
Without a doubt, chocolate tops nearly everyone’s list of comfort foods. Rich, sweet and decadent in its different blends and flavors, the secret to chocolate’s lure is the cacao. The beneficial blend of chemicals, like flavonoids and theobromine – found in abundance in cacao – are excellent for your health and will make you feel great. And the very addictive “in-love” feeling they induce could very well be the cure to a broken heart! To experience chocolate’s full-range of benefits, stick to dark chocolate – preferably organic brands that are 70% or more cacao. The milk, butter, sugar and other sweetners that are added to other types of chocolate have an excessive amount of calories. Though you may be tempted to do otherwise, limit yourself to four bars a week.
Often noted as having an acquired taste, oysters will grow on you once you’ve learned of their many benefits. Best served with a dash of lemon, oysters are rich in zinc, which is vital to keeping your brain and body healthy. It has been found that sufferers of depression often have a zinc deficiency, which explains oysters’ ability to lift the blues. Their high zinc content also contributes to the idea that oysters are an aphrodisiac. Zinc is very important for the production of testosterone and libido stimulation in both men and women. If you don’t like them raw, you can always enjoy them boiled, steamed or added to a seafood dish. Oysters deliver a double dose of feel good!
A good carb, bananas are a very healthy snack that is sweet, filling and brimming with the amino acid tryptophan, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins A, B-6 and C. The carbohydrate content in bananas helps in the absorption of the tryptophan in the brain. Vitamin B-6 then aids in its conversion into the feel-good hormone serotonin. Not only does this make you feel happier but also means you’ll enjoy better sleep. The potassium in bananas also helps rid you of anxiety, stress and fatigue. Enjoy bananas with your breakfast cereal or as a mid-day snack to keep up your energy.
If you’re prone to moodiness, lentils are just what you need to keep you off the emotional rollercoaster. Being a complex carb, they help in the production of serotonin and also keep your blood sugar levels stable. Lentils are a great source of folate, which helps keep you feeling calm and anxiety-free. They also boost your iron levels, keeping you energized and in a better mood. Their versatility makes them a great kitchen staple, so be sure to enjoy them at least once a week in the form of a soup, stew or even while cold and added to a salad.
Yes, you read correctly: water. Don’t underestimate the effects of dehydration! The impact of the loss of even the smallest amount of water can undeniably be felt and can affect our sense of physical and mental well-being. While busy at work or distracted, you might forget to drink, and your body needs two liters of water every day. The next time you feel irritable and you’re not sure why, make sure you have a glass of water. It’s likely that you may have forgotten to drink for a couple of hours. Being dehydrated can affect your ability to concentrate and function properly, so always start your day with two glasses of warm or room temperature water to jump-start your system and flush your organs. Add a squeeze of lemon for a great detox.
Asparagus is another great source of tryptophan thereby promoting good mood with its ability to assist in the creation of serotonin. Like lentils it also contains high levels of folate, and it is an absolutely delicious addition to any dish – be it breakfast, lunch or dinner. If possible, buy it fresh and prepare it at home. This is a great veggie to have if you’re going to have alcohol with your meal, as it is very effective in breaking down alcohol in your system. This means it can actually prevent a hangover; we’re sure this is music to your ears!
-If you think sugar will give you the pick-me-up you desire, especially when craving a snack, think again! Sugar gives you a quick high and then drags you down in the dumps by crashing your energy levels. Avoid it at all costs; it is a mood annihilator.
-Alcohol is not what you should reach for if you want to feel good because although it can produce a momentary sensation of relaxation and comfort, its after effects are anything but. It also contains extra calories you can easily avoid.
-Caffeine has its benefits, but over consumption will leave you dehydrated and irritable – not at all what you need in the middle of a down day.
-Eat a hearty breakfast, a moderate lunch and a light dinner. Overeating or being very hungry affects your mood and can leave you feeling snappy or lethargic.