Most people know that food can affect a person’s mood. Comfort foods are those that stir nostalgia or incite good feelings by bringing pleasure to the palate. Aside from causing long-term health problems due to poor diet choices, some feel-good foods may actually lead to depression. So the next time you’re stressed out and contemplating a binge, reach for something fresh, not frozen or processed.
The Junk-Food Trap
Junk foods, such as high-fat chips and processed snack cakes are loaded with sugar, salt and chemicals that extend their shelf life. And while these foods might taste great, they often have almost no nutrients and a ton of calories. A diet comprised of these foods is likely to lead to weight gain and nutritional deficiencies—problems that in turn lead to depression. Science proves that when our bodies are deprived of vital nutrients, we experience heightened feelings of anxiety, lethargy and irritability, says Drew Ramsey, MD. These ill feelings cause some people to binge on the very same foods that lead to their initial misery, leading to a cycle that is difficult to break.
The Real “Feel-Good Foods”
Reaching for the right foods is the key to improving your mood and energy levels when you’ve had a tough day or need to recharge your batteries. The following are some foods that are chock full of nutrients to feed your brain and fuel your life.
Dark Chocolate: Just a few ounces of dark chocolate can help boost your mood. By increasing the blood flow to your brain, this coca treat improves concentration and has a highly therapeutic effect. Additionally, dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants that help lower blood pressure and lessen your risks of heart disease. According to WebMD, darker is better and milk negates its effects, so don’t consume to two together.
Milk: contains a chemical known as tryptophan, which helps boost feel-good hormones in the brain. Because milk is high in protein, it digests slowly and makes you feel fuller, longer—a good thing for the dieter. Other valuable nutrients, including vitamin D and calcium make milk a smart snack. Stick to skim or low fat whenever possible.
Fruits and vegetables: fruits and vegetables are the obvious choice because of their high content of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Among the best choices are blueberries, oranges and leafy greens. Consume a variety to stave off hunger and improve your mood.
In addition to consuming an array of feel-good foods, take supplements to help keep you energized and healthy. The following are some examples: SAM-e, St. John’s Wort, Vitamin B Complex, Vitamin B-12 Liquid.