Who among us hasn’t reached for a fatty bowl of ice cream or a double chocolate brownie when feeling down? We all know how good either of these can make us feel.
Those initial feelings of pure pleasure, the cool creaminess of the ice cream on your tongue, or the dense chocolate brownie watering your mouth, lift your spirits. It is Nirvana.
The problem is, we experience this euphoria with a mixture of regret if we do it too often. They can thicken the waist and add numbers to the scale, all for a few moments of pleasure.
The immediate sense of pleasure from these treats comes from two places. One is the reality that the ingredients in quality ice cream or a well-made brownie are truly delicious.
The other is what science now knows: the sugar in each actually lights up the same pleasure center as cocaine or any other drug! No wonder we like them!
Fortunately, common sense takes hold most of the time, and we don’t overdo ice cream or brownie feasting. But what if there was a better way of lifting the spirits – a way that doesn’t involve unwanted weight gain and even worse, those guilty feelings?
As a nutritionist, I have a few recommendations that are sure to lift your mood and won’t land on your waist, even if you eat them every day. Here are my favorite four:
When it comes to Omega 3, seafood is your best source. That includes wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Add some nuts and flaxseed and you’re sure to feel more relaxed and your brain will thank you.
Surprising or not, the amount of good gut flora has a direct effect on mood. Eating processed foods, high sugar foods, or taking antibiotics all undermine the quality and volume of your gut flora. Since most of your serotonin is produced in the gut, you need to have good flora to have good mood.
Do you have breakfast every morning? You cannot expect to have energy if you don’t feed yourself at the start of the day. Please eat a breakfast with good protein from pasture raised eggs and throw in some quality greens and mushrooms to build your immunity.
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, but you may not be getting enough from sun exposure, especially if you use sunscreen! Use a high quality supplement (Metagenics has one), eat canned salmon, egg yolks, and D fortified beverages.
Extra important: You cannot effectively absorb calcium without adequate Vitamin D in your body; if you want to avoid osteoporosis, you need Vitamin D.
I hope you’ll give these tips a try when you’re feeling a little blue. As you get older, it really matters what you put in your body. Digestion may be a little sluggish and eating high quality foods that agree with you creates the best medicine for staying well, having energy, and feeling happy.
My book, Food Becomes You – Simple Steps for Lifelong Wellness, is an easy read that tells the story of how food changes health. It includes shopping lists and recipes that are easy to prepare and lead to a better mood, improved immunity, and a steady spring in your step. I hope you check it out.
Have you noticed which foods affect your mood? Do they lift you up or bring you down? Depending on where I buy it, a slice of pizza can make me want an immediate nap. How about you? Please join the conversation.