We all go through times when we might reach for those quick energy fixes, and end up feeling a little depleted after that initial burst.
First, let’s look at a few basic principles
- Balance blood sugar levels. Skipping meals, eating erratically, and having sugary snacks can all upset our blood sugar levels, which can leave us feeling hangry (combination of hungry and angry!). Having protein, fat and some complex carbohydrates at each meal will help keep blood sugar levels stay on track
- Protein can fuel us with amino acids, the building blocks of our brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters. These are our chemical messengers in the brain that can help balance and improve our mood.
- Fats. We need to get those good fats in our diet, as believe it or not, about 60% of our brain is made up of fat. This can also help in the production of those neurotransmitters as well as reducing inflammation. Omega-3 rich fat foods are the ones we need to focus on.
- B vitamins. B vitamins are vast and have some meant functions in helping make those neurotransmitters. Anything that’s green and a vegetable, will probably have some B vitamins.
- The rule of palm is a super simple, as it uses your hand- palm to look at portion size.
Your meals should consist of three key components: proteins, complex carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables. For a balanced meal, you should fill your plate using the following rule of palm formula:
- 1 palm-size portion of protein
- 1 palm-size portion of complex carbohydrates
- 2 palm-size portions of fruits and vegetables
- A thumb sized portion of good fats
Salmon is so versatile and can take on flavours and it’s so good for you. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory, particularly EPA and DHA, which are crucial for brain and nervous system development (pregnant ladies out there, make sure you’re taking a pre-natal omega-3 supplement). Not only great for the omega 3, but salmon also has vitamin B12, and Vitamin D, and low levels of both have been linked to low mood.
Whilst it’s always food to get your nutrients from food, if you have an inflammatory condition, or know your diet needs a helping hand, see this link.
If Salmon just isn’t your thing, or you’re vegetarian or vegan, these little black seeds are goodness are full of omega-3, as well as additional nutrients such as protein, iron, calcium and fibre! It’s also a great source of magnesium, the body’s natural relaxer, and that too can help reduce stress and anxiety.
If you need some help with this little mineral, have a look at this link.
Turkey, shouldn’t just be for Christmas! Its rich in fabulous amino acid called tryptophan, which helps us make the mood boosting neurotransmitter, serotonin. It also has B vitamins, and low levels of these nutrients have been linked to low mood.
If turkey just isn’t your thing, or you’re on a plant based diet, then oats are also full of this powerhouse nutrient. In addition, it’s full of something called beta glucans, a soluble fibre. That’s not all, it can also help lower LDL cholesterol, and the less refined your oat, the better.
This beta glucans can also improve immunity. A really clever meal would be oats with chia seeds and a dollop of Greek yoghurt and berries. If you’re vegan, you can replace the milk with a non-dairy version and replace the Greek yoghurt with coconut yoghurt.
There is so much research that links good gut health to the brain. In fact over 80% of your happy hormone, serotonin, is produced in your digestive tract. So it follows that good gut health will improve mood. So what is a fermented food? Well it’s anything from kombucha, sauerkraut, kefir, miso, tempeh, natto, and kimchi. A word on yoghurt- whilst all yoghurts have live and active cultures of probiotic, not all have the probiotic strains that provide specific health benefits.
If fermented foods just aren’t your thing, try a probiotic supplement.
Other foods that can support mood are lentils (protein, fibre iron and vitamin B6), Eggs (choline, selenium and protein), avocado (vitamin B6, vitamin B5, and good fats), and all dark green leafy vegetables (Fibre and B vitamins).