We all get a bit moody once in a while but with the winter cold setting in, it can be much easier to find yourself in a terrible mood. Whether you are stressed out about Christmas shopping or the short days are making you feel blue, there are healthy foods you can eat to improve your mood.
It can be tempting to order in junk food or reach for your ‘best friends’ Ben and Jerry in times of high stress or feeling low. The problem with this is that while you may feel happier as you eat, an hour later you feel guilty about overdoing it on calories and your mood is back to square one. Below is a list of nutritious guilt-free snacks which can help improve your bad mood!
Oranges –Packed with vitamin C to help reduce stress levels and sugar to boost serotonin, this fruit will put you in a happy fix. Stress is also a fast-track to illness, so if you feel yourself getting a cold or flu eating an orange can help give your immune system a well needed boost!
Dark Chocolate – Just a small amount of this (2 chunks or 5g) is enough to lower the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamines in the body helping you to unwind, think clearly and address the issue that is making you feel stressed out. Dark chocolate is a great source of magnesium which is involved in muscle contraction. It can help physically reduce the tension you feel when under stress. Be careful not to overdo it on the portion though! Buy a small bar to avoid the temptation.
Salmon – Omega-3 fatty acids are widely accepted as being great for memory, but they can also help with stress too! If you are not a fan of fish, you can take Optimum Health Omega Oil Blend instead.
Whey Protein – Ingesting whey protein can increase tryptophan levels and improve cognitive performance. Tryptophan is a ‘feel-good’ hormone which is also involved in the sleep cycle. It leaves you feeling relaxed and clear-headed.
Peanut Butter – As with dark chocolate, you need to be cautious of portion size if you want this snack to remain guilt-free. Most people consider this a comfort food and there is evidence to back this up. The carbohydrates and amino acids in peanut butter contribute to the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that provides calming effects.
Banana – For most people, bananas are the first choice if you need a snack to boost potassium levels. Potassium is quickly depleted by your body when you are suffering from anxiety. Lack of potassium will leave you feeling very low and tired which makes it difficult to cope in stressful and anxiety inducing situations.
Yoghurt – Probiotic yoghurt has been linked with reducing stress levels, anxiety and depression. It can also help alleviate digestive issues that are often caused by increased stress or anxiety.
Cottage Cheese – Anxiety depletes B vitamins and the lower levels of B2, B6 and B12 get, the more anxious and depressed you will feel. Cottage cheese is an excellent source of B vitamins and a filling snack which will prevent you from eyeing up the naughty comfort food!
Blueberries – If food is medicine, there is not many options better than blueberries. When tensions rise, grab a handful of blueberries. They are a great source of vitamin C and crammed with antioxidants which help protect your body from the effects of stress. They can also be effective at lowering cholesterol and blood pressure which is associated with anger.
Kiwi – Funny that most foods associated with helping reduce anger are also associated with reducing the risk of heart disease. Kiwi is no exception to the rule. It is high in vitamin C, potassium and lutein, all of which contribute to reducing stress, anger and blood pressure.
Sesame Seeds – Sesame seeds help to relieve tension, nervous exhaustion and irritability. A small handful will help you reduce your feelings of anger and induce a feeling of calmness.
Spinach Salad – Spinach was good enough for popeye to boost his energy levels, and it is good enough for us too! Who would have thought cartoons could teach us so much?! Spinach and other leafy green vegetables are high in iron and vitamin C. Low levels of iron and vitamin C will leave you feeling tired, weak and leave you vulnerable to illness.
Oatmeal – Oats are slow-release carbohydrates which will keep energy levels stable throughout the day and help you avoid that sluggish feeling. Foods which release energy slowly help you to avoid the highs and lows caused by simple sugars.
Strawberries – The natural sugar in strawberries will help boost energy levels while keeping calories to a minimum. The vitamin C and fibre will help boost immunity, improve digestive transit of meals and enhance your mental clarity.
Quinoa - Decreased levels of the biochemical serotonin in the brain are linked directly with depression. Complex carbohydrates are linked with increasing serotonin and alleviate feelings of emptiness and distress.
Green Tea – Theanine is an amino acid present in green tea and it is this which is thought to have a tranquilising effect on the brain. As well as this, the antioxidants found in green tea help improve immunity, lower blood cholesterol and reduce negative mental and physiological issues associated with depression.
Avocadoes – Depression and sadness is linked with the deficiency of B3, B6, folic acid, zinc and magnesium. Avocado is an excellent source of B vitamins which can help improve energy levels and promote a positive frame of mind.