By Wendy Gamme, Regions Hospital clinical dietitian
Having a great meal can put you in a great mood. But not all foods are mood boosters. There is no one right diet for all people, but here are some things to keep in mind when choosing what to eat:
- Carbohydrates help an amino acid called tryptophan more easily cross the blood brain barrier. As more tryptophan enters your brain, more serotonin is formed. This can improve your mood. Researchers believe a lack of serotonin leads to depression. But the type of carbohydrate is important -- whole grains and beans are much better than donuts or French fries.
- Vitamin D can also increase serotonin in your brain. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. We can get Vitamin D from the sun and from foods such as salmon (wild salmon has more), milk fortified with Vitamin D and eggs (pasture-raised eggs have much more than caged eggs).
- Get more Omega 3 fatty acids from foods like fatty fish, flaxseed and walnuts. Omega 3 may protect against heart disease, cancer and diabetes. Research shows that it may also prevent depression or help improve the moods of people with depression.
Eating habits can also influence your mood. Eat regularly throughout the day to avoid dips in blood sugar, which may affect your mood. Aim for a mixture of carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats. Carbohydrates will give you quick energy, while protein and fats will be absorbed slower.
Eating breakfast regularly may also lead to better memory, more energy throughout the day and a feeling of calmness.
Losing weight slowly if you are overweight can help to improve mood, whereas rapid weight loss can lead to irritability. Losing weight by increasing activity and gradually reducing the amount of calories you eat will give you the best results.