How do foods lead to 'moods'?
Most people’s relationship with food is usually in sync with their weight loss and health goals. Therefore, the common terms we hear are protein, carbohydrates and fat. However, when we say, ‘we are what we eat’, it is more than just this – it involves our moods, too. Yes, we can change our mood to what we want it to be using different kinds of foods.
You would have noticed the impact of food on your energy when after eating a piece of chocolate while feeling down or even the influence of alcohol on your emotions. While these are not the most positive food associations that we should desire for the long term, they are a great depiction that foods have their own energy that directly change our moods to what we want it to be.
When you are feeling cranky: We know when we get snappy or out of character. It could be irritability with kids or with a friend who just called to say hello. We obviously recognize it and don’t like ourselves being snappy. This can be your mood asking for some good energy. So let us fuel it the right way. This will ensure we do not crash after an hour because of a sugar crash in our body. A combination of complex carbohydrate with protein or good fat can make sure we get the required energy, but at the same time, can slow down digestion, so that our mood can stabilize. You can try the good old wholegrain khakhra with some moong salad when you are in this mood.
When you are feeling anxious: We have triggers stemming from fears that can give us certain sensations like muscle tightness, elevated heart rate, difficulty concentrating so on and so forth. Certain foods, along with working on your thought process, can help reduce these sensations and help you feel calmer. Omega 3 fatty acids, especially fish oil that has EPA and DHA regulate neurotransmitters reducing inflammation and promoting healthy brain function.
Even Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression and anxiety. The best form of this vitamin is sunshine and one can complement it with supplements. Eggs are also great source of Vitamin D. Another great food source is pumpkin seeds because of its zinc and potassium content. Zinc is essential for nerve and brain development and the largest storage sites of zinc in the body are in the brain region connected with emotions. My go-to herb is turmeric because of the several turmeric benefits it holds within - its active component, curcumin, helps lower inflammation and oxidative stress. Usually when we have anxiety, we get inflammation and we need to have the right food to reduce it. Haldi doodh before going to bed can really make one feel calm and centered, thus, helping you load up on various turmeric benefits.
When you want to feel grounded: Sometimes we feel like we are all over the place and it doesn’t help in getting things done. We want to be more stable, so we can organize ourselves and our thoughts for the day. Well, root vegetables are a great friend to help us achieve that goal. They grow underground and, therefore, assimilate all the nutrition from the soil for themselves. These vegetables do exactly the same for us! Potato, sweet potato, carrot, onion, garlic and ginger are examples of all great root vegetables that can be cooked up in a warm dish for helping you feel grounded.
I have taken some key emotions that we feel and given solutions through some fabulous foods that are easily accessible to us. There are foods that also balance the yin and yang in us, so one can always delve deeper into this. Foods can help us change moods to get what we want and also feel what we want. So, use them to your advantage to strengthen your mental well-being.
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