There’s a big difference between being hangry and being grumpy. Hangry has a shelf life, you eat, you feel better.
Grumpy is another story. Grumpy sticks around for a while, even after a meal, and makes itself at home!
So, how do you politely ask the "grumpies” to hit the road for good?
By eating “Good Mood Food!”
What is good mood food? It’s food that not only nourishes your body, but it also supports a balanced mood.
If you’re following the basics of a solid, healthy diet, you’re already on the way there:
Whole foods, not processed
Fruits and vegetables
Water for hydration
However, ensuring you include the good mood foods can help you consistently avoid a case of “The Monday’s,” that leads to “The Tuesday’s” and so on…
Good Mood Foods
Good mood foods have been found not only to support your health, but also contain vitamins, minerals, and other properties that support mood and brain health. I don’t know about you, but I’m happy to balance my mood and do good things for my brain as well.
The list below outlines a few of these foods:
Meat, Fish and Diary
Wild caught fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids
Lean, grass-fed meats (great source of B12 and Vitamin D, we’ll talk about those later.)
Vegetables – All Stress Relieving or Cortisol Reducing
Broccoli has (flavonoids that promote circulation and blood flow to the brain)
Onions have (flavonoids that promote circulation and blood flow to the brain)
Kimchi relieves stress and reduces cortisol
Cocoyo reduces cortisol
Sauerkraut relieves stress
Miso reduces cortisol
Bananas also lower blood sugar which reduces mood swings
Avocados (Yes, they are biologically a fruit!)
Berries improve brain function (Long live the blueberry!)
Apples have flavonoids that promote circulation and blood flow to the brain
Acerola and Tart cherries relieve stress (tart cherries are high in melatonin for good sleep)
Pomegranates improve brain health
Oranges reduce stress
Nuts and Seeds
Pistachios improve brain function and are high in melatonin for good sleep
Hemp seeds reduce cortisol
Sunflower seeds reduce cortisol
Chickpeas (Hummus anyone?)
Dark Chocolate 70% or more cocoa (yum!) improves brain function
Herbs, Spices and Teas
Parsley relieves stress
Matcha relieves stress
Ginger has flavonoids that promote circulation and blood flow to the brain
Organic butter and cheeses made from grass-fed cows, sheep, or goats
If you want to go “all in” and adopt a way of life, multiple studies have indicated that there is consistent evidence a Mediterranean-style dietary pattern shows lower risk of depression.
That’s good news for those who struggle with the blues.
What’s the Gut Have to Do with Your Mood?
A lot! While attending classes to become a health coach, I was surprised to learn that the gut microbiome plays a very important role in regulating your mood. In fact, the large intestine is often referred to as the second brain.
So, what you eat, good food vs. high-sugar, highly processed foods make a huge difference. Essentially, if you eat poorly, you will feel poorly and if you eat well, you will feel well. Quite simple.
This weekend I came across a wonderful article in The AARP Magazine, (yes, I’m a proud member 😂), written by Eric Spitznagel entitled, “The Inside Story of Your body.” In the article, the author takes a trip inside his own body to speak with and learn about some of the vital organs: liver, lungs, gallbladder, kidneys, bladder, stomach, and finally the intestines. While the article was written in a cheeky manner, the information covered was eye-opening, particularly for the intestines.
At one point the large intestine has an emotional moment, and the author wonders why. The small intestine offers that the large intestine manages microbes that impact your blood sugar levels and emotions.
Case in point, the article notes that researchers in the Netherlands found 13 types of bacteria in the human body linked to depression. Some microbes produce serotonin and dopamine, which regulate moods. It goes on to say that when you feel bad, don’t reach for comfort food because eating ultra-processed foods like cookies, chips, and other bright orange crunchy foods are the equivalent of a punch in the face to make you feel better!
It goes on to say that while a probiotic supplement is advised, a better bet is eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, yogurt, and miso (sound familiar?!), as well as prebiotic foods such as bananas, asparagus, apples, and most root vegetables, which have types of fiber that the microbiome loves.
There’s proof that it’s not just me telling you to eat these foods, the body has spoken!
When Good Mood Food is Not Enough
We’re busy people and don’t always eat well. This, I’m sure, is a contributing factor to not getting in enough good mood foods. There’s shopping, prepping, cooking, it can all be too much.
So, what do we do when we can’t get all the benefits of eating good mood foods. We supplement.
The good news is there are excellent, natural mood supporting supplements on the market that can help get you what you need when the task of prepping that good mood meal becomes difficult. Supplements aren’t ideal, but every little bit helps.
Below is a list of my favorite supplements that support a balanced mood and a listing of some foods that contain them. You’ll see quite a few overlaps from the “Good Mood Foods” list.
B12 (energy) – lean meats, turkey, eggs, organ meats, tuna, clams.
B6 (stress and inflammation support) – asparagus, leafy greens, avocado, turkey, eggs.
D3 (boosts mood) – lean meats, eggs, sardines, wild caught fish, mushrooms.
Magnesium (relaxation, calming, and sleep) – fish, avocado, dark leafy greens, bananas, black beans, spinach, dark chocolate, pumpkins seeds.
Zinc (mood boosting) – oysters, kale, broccoli, legumes, nuts, hemp seeds, chickpeas.
GABA (calming) – brown, rice, soy proteins, mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, fermented foods, walnuts and almonds.
Omega-3 DHA/EPA Fatty Acids (mood balancing) – wild caught salmon, walnuts, sardines, chia seeds, cod liver oil.
SAMe (mood balancing) – eggs, wild caught fish, lean meats, Brazil nuts, black beans, edamame, sunflower seeds.
L-Tyrosine (mood balancing) - soy products, chicken, turkey, fish, peanuts, almonds, avocados, bananas, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, lima beans, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds.
5-HTP (mood balancing) - You can't get 5-HTP from food. The amino acid tryptophan, which the body uses to make 5-HTP, can be found in turkey, chicken, milk, potatoes, pumpkin, sunflower seeds, turnip and collard greens, and seaweed.
Prebiotics/Probiotics – (gut health/mood balance) – kefir, yogurt, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi, bananas, chicory, leeks, onion, dandelion greens, asparagus, tempeh, pickles, garlic.
Supplements are not for everyone and you’ll need to use them consistently to see results so be patient. And, while most supplements do their job and are helpful, some used in excess or otherwise improperly can lead to issues.
*CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE STARTING ANY SUPPLEMENTS*
We all want to feel better, but being safe is the best way!
Non-Nutritional Mood Boosters
I couldn’t finish up this post without reminding you that beyond nutrition, beyond supplements, there are other fantastic ways to reduce stress, and improve your mood. Any of the items listed below in any amount will be very helpful in improving your mood.
Getting 8 hours of sleep
Reading good books
Getting at least an hour of sun a day
Avoiding the news and negative people (my personal opinion)
On the note of meditation, that excellent AARP article I read had another fascinating fact in it regarding the microbiome. (This one is kinda gross but I found it interesting.) It stated that researchers studied the stools of Tibetan monks and found that the monk’s microbiota were enriched with bacteria linked to a decreased risk of anxiety, depression, and heart disease! I can on assume they attribute it to the practice of mediation.
If that isn’t enough evidence that we should get our "om on,” I don’t know what is!
Exercise (Sorry, I had to squeeze it in!)
Yup, exercise. It’s the best supplement of all for improving your mood. As much as we’d like to deny it, it gets you outside in the sun (vitamin D), improves your physical health, and releases endorphins that make you feel better.
Walking for 30 minutes a day or any other exercise of your choice for 30 minutes is all it takes.
Putting it all Together
Good mood food, supplements, and activities that support movement and mood balance are your “go to” plan for feeling better. We all need to eat, so why not eat the foods that make us feel better.
A good way to get a jump on getting these good foods into your routine, is to buy more of the good stuff and crowd out the not-so-good stuff. As the not-so-good stuff in your fridge and pantry runs out, replace it with the good stuff.
Next, make the good mood foods your snacks and use them as the foundation for your meals. Combine the foods with supplements (as needed), and non-nutritional mood boosters you need like exercise and meditation, and you’ll soon see long-term results in a better mood!
Are you confused about the foods you should be eating on a regular basis to keep you in balance? Book a complimentary consultation call to learn the basics of “feel good” nutrition and be Better4U and Better4All!
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Now go out, eat good mood food, and smile! Your body will thank you for it! (Your friends will too!)
Take care and be well,
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach