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!