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6 Ways Food Can Improve Your Mood

Your mood can be affected by what you eat. I have been paying close attention to the mood-body connection, making aware that a case of the passing blues correlates to eating cake two days in a row or that my lifted spirits are in part thanks to clean eating.

I felt empowered when I realized I had the skills to change my mood with some key tips that gently transformed my diet.

1. Eat A Balanced Breakfast

What I eat in the morning can dictate the rest of my day. Research shows that eating protein with breakfast increases energy levels and boosts mood and concentration by preventing a sugar crash.

Each time I eat a sugary breakfast, my mood drops, my energy is sluggish, and my concentration is questionable. While everybody is different in what they need, a balanced breakfast is the best approach.

My ideal breakfast may look like eggs scrambled with spinach and a piece of toast to give me energy and a small cup of berries to keep me sated for a more extended time while providing a gentle blood sugar boost.

2. Try Another Culture’s Food

The food lover in me adores trying foods from other cultures. A surprising byproduct has been how these foods affect my mood. Typically if I eat a rich meal, I will feel satisfied yet lethargic, and within a few hours, my spirits will drop.

However, when eating Indian food, this does not happen. The reason is the abundance of spices used in Indian cuisine. Many of these spices are anti-inflammatory and contain properties that boost the body. Spicy food releases serotonin, making us feel happy.

Take Japanese cuisine as another example; the cuisines often focus on rice, fish, and vegetables. I love sushi and will order one elaborate roll with crunch and sauces and then a straightforward option like a kampyo roll with a dried gourd inside the rice and seaweed.

3. Eat Dark, Leafy Greens and Vegetables

When I was young, I learned to not only eat my vegetables but to enjoy them. To this day, I notice a dramatic difference in how happy I feel based on how veggie-heavy my diet is.

Leafy, green vegetables like lettuce, kale, spinach, and arugula are chock-full of alkaline. This helps create a balanced pH in the body, which positively affects my mood. Go for a smoothie with cucumber and kale or a bed of greens with chicken on top.

4. Curb Processed Sugars

My biggest mood culprit is sugar, so much so that it is rare that I am tempted by a large serving of cake or ice cream. Processed white and brown sugar plays an enormous role in how I feel. If I want something sugary, I find it best to eat it after a protein-rich breakfast or after dinner, followed by a walk to reduce blood sugar spikes.

However, natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar have a much milder effect on me, though this will vary by person. While large amounts of natural sweeteners might affect my mood, the result is nonetheless a happier mood than if I had consumed processed cane or beet sugar.

5. Get Enough Protein

Some people need more protein, while others may need less. I fall on the protein-rich side. Why? Because it boosts my stamina, energy, mood, and concentration. Protein can be meat, seafood, eggs, dairy, nuts, legumes, and seeds. Protein can also be found in other food groups such as vegetables.

A lack of protein may exacerbate anxiety and other mood disorders because it doesn’t provide the body with nutrients needed for the brain to release feel-good chemicals. I try to make sure at least a quarter of each of my meals is protein.

6. Be Aware of Trigger Foods

I recently started a low-histamine diet. Because it is essentially a dramatic elimination diet, it is helping me discover the culprits of my physical discomfort and, surprisingly, even my mental upsets.

The low-histamine diet is not for everyone, and it isn’t very fun either. So unless medically advised, don’t feel you must go that far.

But do pay attention to how you feel after eating gluten, dairy, or high-acidity foods, like sugary items, smoked meat, and tomatoes. If you notice you feel better without them, stick with it.

We all have the power to change our moods. I made small steps and built upon them until I found a style of eating that I could comfortably set.

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