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Improve Your Mood With Food By Asking These 3 Questions

Lynn Roulo
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You already know that what you eat affects the health of your body, but did you know you can improve your mood with food? One of the most overlooked benefits of a healthy, nutritious diet is that it can make you feel calmer, happier and more relaxed.

If you are eating a clean diet, you already know this anecdotally, but for those who are skeptical, science shows that food affects your thoughts and with a few dietary adjustments, you can directly improve your mood with food.
 

Science shows you can directly improve your mood with food.

 
There is even an emerging field called “nutritional psychology” that draws a direct correlation between your diet and your psychological state.
 

 
 

Improve Your Mood With Food: It Begins With a Healthy Diet

Before diving into how food affects your mood, it’s worth pausing to ask “what is a healthy diet?”

With over seven billion people on the planet, a healthy diet means different things for different people. Food that might be life-saving for one person may be life-threatening for another. With that as the backdrop, there are some common threads for us all.

A healthy diet is one that is:

  • Nutrient-dense, with an abundance of whole, real foods, including vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts and legumes
  • Low or free from refined sugar and chemical additives
  • Low or free from gluten and other inflammatory foods such as processed meat and refined grains
  • Low in nutrient-poor foods including white flour, high fructose corn syrup and refined soybean oil

If you are suffering from stress, mood swings or any difficult emotions, it is worth checking out your food choices because you are probably inadvertently eating foods that negatively influence your thoughts and emotional state.
 
 

Answer These 3 Questions to Help Improve Your Mood With Food:

Below are three simple questions you can ask yourself on the path to improving your mood with the food you eat.
 

1. What Do You Eat for Breakfast?

food3
Eating processed carbohydrates like bagels, bread and pastries causes blood sugars to spike up high and then drop quickly, leading to low energy and irritability.

Improve your mood with food by cutting back on bread, pastries, bacon, and other processed food in the morning.

That bagel you eat in the morning may contribute to your work stress. Science shows if you are eating meats cured with nitrates, like ham and bacon, this may contribute to episodes of mania.

Better breakfast choices might be organic eggs, yogurt (with no additives or sweeteners), chia pudding or anything filled with protein and healthy fats.

Science shows your mental state can improve by eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed protein and good fats, and this diet can help prevent, and even cure, depression.
 

 
 

2. What’s for Dessert?

chocolate
Studies show diets high in sugar are correlated with higher instances of anxiety, depression and mood disorders. And multiple studies show a correlation between a diet high in refined sugars and impaired brain function.

Improve your mood with food by eating less sugar.

If you are trying to get a promotion at work, you may want to cut back on donuts and cookies. A better option would be to have sugar-free dark chocolate, desserts made without sugar, nuts, seeds or low fructose fruit.

But it’s not just dessert.

While ancient hunter-gatherers consumed the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar in a year, the average American now eats 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.

Part of this is the sugar you eat in those desserts or add to your coffee, but it also comes more indirectly in the form of soft drinks, cereal, sauces, dressings and other common foods.

Sugar fills no nutritional need, so it is essentially wasted calories that inflame your body. Read all your food labels and steer clear of the various forms of sugar because that jar of pasta sauce might be making you anxious.

7 Healthy Sugar Alternatives: Here’s What You Need to Know About Each
 

3. Are You Making Your Meals Count?

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Sugar contributes to your bad mood, but it’s just one piece of the puzzle. A shocking statistic shows processed food makes up about 70% of the Standard American Diet (SAD), and Americans spend, on average, 10% of their income on fast food.

These nutrient-poor food choices leave you feeling tired, overwhelmed, irritable and hungry. Your body craves nutrients, so if you eat meals lacking nutrient density, you may feel hungry because your body craves the missing vitamins and minerals needed to function properly.

Improve your mood with food by eating more nutrient-dense foods.

What we eat matters, but too often, we eat whatever is in front of us without much thought about what it is doing to our bodies and minds.

A better option might be to plan your meals carefully, setting aside time to take a thoughtful approach to your meals. A little bit of deliberate planning can dramatically improve the nutrient density of your breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Need meal ideas? Here are 10 Healthy YouTube Cooking Channels to Ignite Your Tastebuds

 
 

Improve Your Mood With This Experiment

It can be overwhelming to imagine reinventing your whole diet, but one simple experiment you can do is take a 21-day break from sugar.

Beyond avoiding the white stuff, check the labels of everything you eat. Sucrose, dextrose and fructose are all sugar under a different name, so read carefully and eliminate all forms of refined sugar from your diet.

Get Healthy and Ditch the Sugar! 10 Tips to Do a Sugar Cleanse

If you feel even more ambitious, eliminate all processed food (anything with chemical additives).

At the same time, add in more vegetables, seeds, nuts and other nutrient-dense whole foods.

Track your mood every day. The first days might be rough as your body detoxes, but as you enter weeks two and three, you’ll likely find your spirits lifting, your thoughts tilting more to the positive, and your energy growing.

But don’t take my word for it, try it for yourself. A better mood is within easy grasp, and it starts at the door of your refrigerator.

All included information is not intended to treat or diagnose. The views expressed are those of the author and should be attributed solely to the author. For medical questions, please consult your healthcare provider.

Did any of these questions resonate with you? Or better yet, do you think you will take on the 21-day sugar-free challenge? Please share with us in the comments below – we love hearing from you!

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Lynn Roulo

Lynn Roulo is an American Kundalini Yoga and Enneagram instructor living in Athens, Greece. She teaches a unique combination of the two systems, combining the physical benefits of Kundalini Yoga with the psychological growth tools of the Enneagram. She blogs about living in Greece and her journey from being a San Francisco CFO to an Athens Yoga instructor.

lynnroulo.com

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