What's Your Food Doing For Your Mood?
You are what you eat – right down to your mood. Though you might not realise it, your diet can have a dramatic impact on the way you feel.
Although a serving of salmon won’t cure serious depression, it can sometimes mean the difference between a smile and a frown on your Monday morning face. And, as you know, how you feel can significantly impact upon how motivated you are to stick to your weight-control goals.
Read on to find out which foods can improve your mood and which ones are best avoided if you want to stay on track with your goals.
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Depression, diet and weight control
Overweight people are not always depressed; depressed people are not always overweight; but there is a well-established and undeniable link between the two. It’s not just a simple chicken-egg question of cause and effect though – this is a hen-house of “which came first?” Lack of motivation, unhealthy eating, weight gain, difficulty exercising, and depression are all intricately connected, and it’s hard to say which leads to which.
However, one thing we do know is that food can affect mood, sometimes dramatically – just witness a six-year-old after five too many red cordials! Many people who have depression find that when they change some aspect of their diet, the symptoms of their depression also change.
If you struggle with mood swings or simply wish you had more energy, take a look at what you’re eating. How many “do” foods are you getting? How many “don’t” foods make their way into your daily diet?
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are a kind of healthy fat found in many types of fish, as well as some other foods.
In countries where people eat more fish, such as Scandinavian and East Asian nations, there tend to be lower rates of depression. Research suggests that this is because the omega-3 fats in fish have anti-depressant-like effects.
Salmon, tuna and sardines are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, but if you don’t like fish, you can also try walnuts, flaxseed oil, canola oil or omega-3 enriched eggs.
If you are pregnant or planning pregnancy and for children 6 years and under, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) advises that 2 - 3 serves of most fish and seafood per week may be safely consumed, with some exceptions. Exceptions are: Orange Roughy (Sea Perch) or Catfish: 1 serve per week and no other fish that week; Shark (Flake) or Billfish (Swordfish/Broadbill and Marlin): 1 serve per fortnight and no other fish that week.
Think carbs, think “comfort food”? There’s a reason for that connection. Complex carbohydrates boost serotonin levels in the brain; serotonin is a “good mood” chemical. A steady supply of complex carbohydrates also keeps blood-sugar levels on an even keel, and a steady blood-sugar level can help control mood fluctuations.
Whole grains, wholegrain breads, brown rice, beans and vegetables are your best choices of complex carb foods as these are unrefined - i.e. they are less processed than refined complex carb foods such as white rice and white bread. Simple carb foods, such as lollies, cakes, and other sugary foods, are not good mood-enhancers and are best avoided.
Minerals can also make a difference to mood. Here are a few to consider:
Next: Don't foods
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