By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
What we eat turns into every cell in our body, so it’s no wonder what you choose to eat directly impacts your mood, energy, and how you look. Last week I blogged about the best mood boosting foods — there’s a lot of research that shows how beneficial omega 3s, whole grains and beans, spices, and even dark chocolate can be for depression. But on the flip side are the foods that negatively affect mood and anxiety and it probably comes as no surprise these are typically the ones we reach for when bummin’. So in addition to adding in the beneficial foods, here are the ones to limit:
- Sugar: Not only is sugar nutrient-less, constant treats like soda and candy mess with your blood sugar and hormones, then lead to that lethargic “sugar hangover” and becomes a cycle. As we say at Foodtrainers “sweet begets sweet;” the more sweet you eat, the more you crave.
- Fake sugars, flavors, and food dyes: Those pretty pink, yellow, and blue packets of fake sugar aren’t any better. First, they desensitize you to sweetness, pushing you further into that sweet craving cycle. Even worse, remember that what you eat turns into your body’s cells – no need for artificial chemicals.
- “White” breads/flours/pasta/baked goods and other super-processed foods: the more something is processed, the less nutrients and fiber it has. It might not taste sweet but you’re essentially eating sugar and you have the same blood sugar and hormone fluctuations.
- Excess caffeine: one or two small cups a day has lots of health benefits, but research shows that drinking over 700 mg of caffeine (the equivelant to 4-5 cups) a day may increase depressive symptoms. Even if you’re a daily joe-drinker, excess caffeine can affect sleep quality and cause anxiety and irritability.
Over (or under) eating when things are rough is more common than not – and we all know it’s rarely about the food. I hear the phrase “eating my feelings” daily from clients. Therapy is amazing (depressed or not!) and as someone tweeted to me last week, another essential mood booster is exercise. But when all else fails, please upgrade the tub of ice cream to a bowl of popcorn and a piece of dark chocolate.
Do you notice how any of these foods impact your mood? Any others? Can you relate to “eating your feelings”?