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What does mood have to do with food?

What does mood have to do with food?

Or put it the other way, what does food have to do with mood? Quite a bit, it seems. You can actually beat the blues or get over a sulking fit by watching what you eat and when you eat it.

If you tend to snap at others rather often and feel irritable, and your family/friends/colleagues feel as though they must keep a safe distance from you, you probably just need a better eating plan.

What causes these sudden mood swings?

Sugar is the culprit. A sudden low in blood sugar can make you really touchy. But that does not mean that you can focus on eating sweets as a solution, because a rise in sugar can also play havoc with your mood, making you tired, restless and drained.

So how to ensure that your blood sugar levels are balanced?

Here’s what you can do:

  • Small frequent meals

Consistent and small meals every five to six hours can make sure that your body, and brain are properly fueled. This prevents any lows in your blood sugar levels which cause that bad mood. If you have been diagnosed with hypoglycemia, you may need to eat every 2-3 hours. Check with your doctor.

  • Go easy on refined carbs

It is important consume less concentrated sugar such as soda, candy, jam, syrups, fruit juices, etc which can suddenly spike your blood sugar and just as suddenly cause drops in it. This makes you fatigued and puts you in a lousy mood. And oh, by the way, the same thing happens with refined starches – which means white bread, bagels, crackers, rice and so on. The reason is that these foods tend to break down quite fast in the digestive tract and converts into blood sugar.

What is the solution? Focus on the whole grain-based variety of foods that take longer to digest, thanks to their high fiber content which helps keeps your blood sugar levels balanced.

  • Go for the high quality carb + lean protein combination

When you consume proteins combined with high-fiber carbohydrates – particularly the sort that is rich in soluble fiber such as barley, oats, some fruits and vegetables, it slows down the absorption of sugar in your blood stream. This means fewer mood swings.

Research shows that while certain foods can make you irritable, there are foods that can actually improve your mood by having a positive effect on the chemical messengers in your brain.

Focus on foods with omega-3 fatty acids and folic acid

Our brain has the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids compared to other parts of the body. The great thing about Omega-3 is that it helps lift depression. You’ll find high concentrations of Omega-3 fats in fish such as wild salmon, sardines and mackerel. For vegetarians, the sources are flaxseeds, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs.

Folic acid or folate also plays a critical role in determining your mood. Research shows that when this vitamin B level is low in the blood, it correlates with depression. So – if you’re someone who feels low and depressed rather often, tell your doctor. If your feeling of depression is temporary, go for foods rich in folic acid like leafy greens, sunflower seeds, soybeans, beets, oranges, etc.

Have you noticed if some foods make you feel better/worse? Which are they? Do share your take on this!

0 18 January, 2011 Health January 18, 2011

About the author

Vidya's healthy concoctions (read: health posts) makes the perfect cup of GingerChai for body and soul of our readers. Follow @vidyasury You can read her personal concoctions in her personal blog, Going A-Musing

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  1. gayatri

    good topic Vidya 🙂
    i know this seems a bit out of place in ‘gingerChai’, but whenever i have tea i become quite irritable, panicky and my reflexes become slow (observation courtesy yesterday’s driving class session :(, weird huh)

  2. Pranjal

    OMG Vidya. Reading your post makes me feel I possess every wrong eating habit of this world. I mean I eat randomly whenever whatever I want. I love gulabjamuns and eat 5-6 at one go when i’m feel like. if its a gulab jamun eating competition i’ll not write the numbers for the fear of embarassing self. i even eat Jam Roti at home if its Lauki ki sabzi on the plate. i wonder how long am i going to survive 😛 😛

    1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

      OMG! On the bright side, Jam and Roti has never been blamed on killing someone. But the Gulab Jamuns, I am sure you can do without 5-6 at a time! 😛

    2. Vidya Sury

      😀 You’ll survive. Is it rude to ask how old you are? 😀 I used to eat non-stop and stay skinny 20 years ago. And let’s not talk of gulab jamun numbers, please :-D. I have a horrible feeling I might beat you hollow! er…full!

      Just made carrot halwa by the way.

      1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

        Can you both stop talking about Gulab Jamuns?!??!??!??!??!??! >:(

        I haven’t had one in over 5 years!!!! And you aren’t making it any easier for me!!!!!!


        1. Pranjal

          oh ho… our dear spl hasn’t had a gulab jamun in five years? i’d die!!
          koi ni. come my home buddy, we can both go to ganga ghaat and have delicious Gulab Jamuns :P:P

          by the way vidya i’m 22 and please don’t dare else i’ll come bangalore and organise an open challenge for entire GC club members :P:P
          aur gajar ka halwa u ate alone 🙁
          eating alone is one thing, even telling people who are out of their home :(:(

          1. Vidya Sury

            Pranjal – I only make the gajar halwa. I don’t eat it 😀 Happy?

            You’re welcome to Bangalore anytime – you have a standing invite from me :-D. GJ -anytime. GH – in season.

            So SPL – you like GULAB JAMOOOOOONS eh? 😀 Just come over.

    1. Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

      OMG what a faux pas!!! I’ve done that before with women and they don’t really like it when a guy doesn’t quite remember their name. But I ask you, whats in a name? Isn’t a rose still a rose by any other name or something along those lines.

        1. mani

          AAAAARGH! I am really sorry Vidya! (err I hope I didnt jumble it up..Ok its the correct one.) 😀 I don’t know why it is always Vidya with whom I end up getting mixed up. Earlier one there was the mixup with Vidya sury and Ali. Remember? 😀

  3. Evil Grin

    Eureka. I think now I know why women get mood swings, they pop in different items from the kitchen and their moods go unpredictable. Blame it on the food and mood relation reaction.

  4. Anney

    Hey…I can’t control myself around Gulab Jamun either….SPL…. am is the same boat….haven’t had one for a couple of years!!!!

  5. Nandini

    My hubby used to have heavy food . he avoids eating in between. Inspite of that I found him getting drowsy and tired. I changed his diet plans, split into small 6 meals a day. It changed his activity stream.

    P.S Vidya a request from me. Can you come up with a topic on home remedies for mouth ulcer. Thanks in advance.

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