Your diet can affect your moods
Ever wondered why some people are perpetually moody, unmotivated and restless? The most common perception is that these people have ‘attitude problems’. However, many studies have shown that diet can play a vital role in mood regulation. In other words, what you eat is what you feel.
This is especially true in this day and age, particularly in the cities where many people are so caught up with pressures of daily living that that their nutritional needs are compromised. When that happens, they find themselves increasingly unable to face pressure and stress. What they think is emotional stress is actually a lack of physical energy.
Hence, having a good, well-balanced diet is not only vital for your physical wellness but will impact the way you feel and react to life challenges. Good mental health begins at the mouth!
So if you’re often tired, sluggish and demoralised without any reason, here are ten nutritional tips to kickstart your journey to a happier you:
DON’T SKIP BREAKFAST
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day because you have just fasted for the last 10-12 hours in your sleep. There is plenty of research that shows that people who start the day without breakfast do not perform as well as their peers at school and work. They are likely to be tired, fatigued and have a hard time concentrating.
One important thing to note is taking breakfast is often a culture that begins at home. Incorporate breakfast as part of your family’s routine and the whole family will enjoy positive mood for the rest of the day.
HAVE A BALANCED AND VARIED DIET
Most people are unsure of how to have a balanced diet. Basically, it means a diet based on starchy foods including rice, bread, noodles, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, some protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and lentils, some milk and dairy products, less salt, sugar and oil.
If you still find this difficult to follow, just remember this simple tip – eat the colours of a rainbow. Taking at least five colours in each meal will ensure you have a wide variety of nutrients for good health.
CHOOSE YOUR CARBO
Carbohydrates are a necessary part of our diet because they provide the energy for us to continue with daily activities. Insufficient carbohydrate can make you feel cranky. However, not all carbohydrates are the same.
There are basically two kinds of carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates consist of food with higher fibre content such as whole grains, beans, nuts and roots. These carbohydrates make you feel satiated as they are turned into sugars and absorbed in a slower, steadier manner. This gives you sustained energy for the next few hours, hence preventing negative moods.
Refined carbohydrates, on the other hand, are found in cookies, white rice, cakes, wafers and others. Because they are already in refined form, they do not require digestion, and get absorbed into the bloodstream very quickly. This causes the ‘sugar rush’, where you feel high and happy 30 minutes after eating refined carbohydrates, only to ‘crash’ after that where you feel even lousier than before.
EAT ‘REAL’ FOOD
Modern processed foods promise all kinds of nutritional benefits such as enhanced flavour, sugar-free, fortified with vitamins and minerals. But all forms of processed foods require varying amounts of preservatives and additives to lengthen their shelf life. Most also contain artificial flavouring, colouring and others to make them taste good, while containing empty calories that makes you feel full but (remove )does not contain any essential nutrients.
Processed food may be hard to avoid in this fast-paced modern life, but if you are feeling down most of the time, it is time to consider whether you’re eating more processed foods than ‘real food’.
Wholesome and nourishing, real food is simple, unprocessed and complete. Eating real foods that are naturally rich in macro and micronutrients will give you life and vitality.
REDUCE CAFFEINE INTAKE
Coffee and tea can be taken, but sparingly because they have a diuretic effect on your body. This means they tend to make you urinate more, which might lead to dehydration if you do not consume enough liquids. Also beware the hidden caffeine in soft drinks, energy drinks and chocolates.
BOOST YOUR VITAMIN B
Vitamin B complex, in particular Vitamin B6, is necessary for production of serotonin, a mood regulator in our brain and aids sleep. A deficiency in Vitamin B often results in constant fatigue, poor sleep, mood swings, irritability and poor muscle strength.
Vitamin B6 is found in bananas, salmon, poultry and potatoes. Vitamin B6 and other B complex are also found in dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
The 2012 Raine Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study suggests that teenagers or children who appear to be misbehaving, having unexplained tantrums, have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and autism should be assessed for Vitamin B deficiency.
The building block of protein is the amino acids. Tryptophan is an amino acid needed for the production of ‘serotonin’, which can result in depression, sleep disturbance and anxiety when in insufficient amounts in the body.
Protein is found in foods such as red meat, fish, eggs and dairy products including cheese, yoghurt and milk. Make sure you include these protein sources into your family’s meal every day.
EAT IN A COMFORTABLE SETTING
Many people mistakenly think that the digestive system begins in the stomach or intestines. In actual fact, it begins in the mouth, beginning with the saliva produced in the salivary glands and teeth that help to break down food and help it digest when swallowed. Eating in a rushed and uncomfortable situation disrupts this process and affects your digestion.
Studies among depressed elderly folks show that they tend to eat more and are happier when eating with their children, grandchildren or other people. Mammals are social creatures by nature. Eating, being a sociable activity, is best experienced in a group or clan.
TAKE MORE OMEGA-3
Many studies show that the modern diet consist more Omega-6 and is insufficient in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is known as the ‘good’ fat and it helps to maintain the health of the heart, brain, skin and other cells in the body. Taking two or more servings of salmon, tuna or other oily fish, or flaxseed per week, will help to improve both memory and mood.
CONSIDER GETTING SUPPLEMENTS
If you have been feeling down and lethargic for no known reason, it might be a good idea to assess your diet first before starting on medications. See a doctor or dietician for advice on whether you should include vitamin or mineral supplementation and at what dosage. Many urbanites today need some form of nutritional supplementation due to poor food choices and irregular meals.
Remember, children’s moods and temperaments can also be affected by the food we feed them. Some children who appear to be naughty, hyperactive, depressed or sullen may be suffering from some form of vitamin or mineral deficiency.