Boost Your Mood With the Power of Food
You’re aware that nutrition plays a role in your overall health, but did you know that the food you eat can also impact your mood, energy, memory and cognitive function?
Better than astrology, numerology, tarot cards, or mood rings, our eating patterns can provide us with proven mood-boosting benefits to help the stars align for all our nutritional needs.
Feeling Hangry: Eat More Consistently
The reason you get that all-too-common “hangry” feeling is thanks to the inconsistency in your eating habits. To avoid that sluggish, “blah” feeling, eating consistently throughout the day might be the answer.
By eating consistently throughout the day, you’re fueling your body with mood-boosting nutrients that have a multitude of benefits, ultimately improving our emotional wellbeing and productivity.
Feeling Blue: Bring in More Color
When building your plate, bring in more colors! Try to incorporate a balance of healthy fats, whole grains, protein, and plenty of produce, adding variety from meal to meal by including different foods.
If you’re missing one of these food groups too often, you’ll notice the effects on your energy level and mood, but including them all will help make your meals satisfying while meeting your nutritional needs.
Feeling Stressed: Try Mindful Eating
Eating mindfully can help you cultivate a positive healthy relationship with food. Listen to your body’s hunger cues and enjoy a snack or meal when you are hungry, not just when you think you should be hungry.
On the flip side, tune in to when you’re feeling full. And most of all, take time to savor the food you’re eating. When you’re busy, a distraction-free lunch isn’t always realistic, and that’s okay—but a few minutes spent enjoying and appreciating your food can make a big difference.
Unlike the mood rings of the 90s, nutrients have a proven track record for actually affecting your mood and productivity. Here are a few mood-boosting nutrients you should be incorporating into your meals:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3s are essential for brain development throughout the lifespan. They make up a key part of our body’s cells and are used to form a variety of signaling molecules , which are responsible for transmitting information between the cells in our bodies There’s also some evidence that adequate omega-3 intake is associated with decreased depression and a decreased risk of developing dementia.
- Magnesium: We need magnesium for over 300 functions, including protein synthesis, blood sugar control, and energy production. Inadequate magnesium intake is also associated with the development of migraines.
- Dopamine: Dopamine is a chemical messenger that plays a role in our mental health including motivation, satisfaction, cognitive function, memory, and reduced depression. Dopamine is released by pleasurable experiences, such as enjoying food.
Get more Omega-3s from foods likes salmon, mackerel, tuna, nuts and seeds (flax, chia, walnuts), and plant-based oils (flaxseed oil, canola oil).
Try this Sheet Pan Salmon with Bok Choy and Crispy Sweet Potato Ribbons for a dinner filled with healthy Omega-3s.
Get more magnesium via legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, milk and yogurt.
Try Overnight Oats for a high-magnesium breakfast to kick start your day on a healthy foot.
There’s also evidence that foods high in a particular amino acid, tyrosine, can promote the production and release of dopamine.
Get more dopamine-boosting tyrosine from fish, poultry, eggs, leafy greens, or legumes.
Try One Pot Lemon Chicken Thighs, Artichokes, Green Beans, Orzo to reap the benefits of mood-boosting dopamine.
The Power of Food & Mood
Food and nutrition are important, but other self-care behaviors, such as exercising in a way you enjoy, getting enough sleep, investing in relationships with friends and family, and spending time on hobbies, can help balance your mood and energy as well.
Together, all of these factors are interconnected and can combine to truly nourish your well-being. Try adding one of the above patterns or foods to your life today and notice how you feel.
For more information about this article or others, please email us at FLIKblog@compass-usa.com.
Written with contributions from Grace Sinopoli, Dietetic Intern