Are Foods the Key to Your Moods? (Part 1)
By Joan Kent, PhD
Do your moods affect your appetite and your food selection?
People often eat for emotional reasons, based on their moods. That can affect how much they eat and which foods they want.
But the reverse is also true. What we eat – and when – can affect our moods, our minds, and our ability to focus, work productively all day, sleep soundly at night, and more.
The foods we eat can cause such mood states as depression, irritability or anxiety – and even exaggerate our tendency to experience those states.
Much of this occurs through the action of brain chemicals that transmit information.
So is your diet preventing you from feeling as good as you could?
Do You Feel "Down" After Your Lunch?
Protein foods trigger production of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine, which keep us awake, alert, and up and ready for mental action.
A meal of pasta, on the other hand – with or without bread – can raise insulin significantly. The rise in insulin allows tryptophan, an amino acid, to reach the brain.
Once tryptophan gets to the brain, it's used to make the chemical serotonin. That makes us feel relaxed and calm.
High levels of serotonin, though, can cause lethargy, sleepiness, and, in some people, a down or somewhat depressed mood. Some people experience this reaction to carbs more strongly than others.
Vegetables don't raise insulin, so they don't trigger serotonin and won't make you sleepy or bring you down. That makes them an excellent lunchtime food if you need to stay focused and positive, and work through the afternoon and early evening.
How Can You Use This to Feel Better?
A good solution is a high-protein, low-starch lunch, such as chicken and vegetables. Go easy on the breadsticks, potatoes, or other starchy carbs. If you order soup, make it a clear broth, rather than a creamy, heavy type.
Skipping sugary desserts is another way to keep yourself feeling alert and positive after lunch – or any meal.
This approach to your mid-day meal will probably help you stay awake, productive and "even" for the rest of your work day.
Don't miss Part 2, which will cover the impact of protein foods and fats.
If you have questions about how foods affect your moods and your mental state, feel free to visit www.LastResortNutrition.com and grab your free Empowered Eating Consult. Find out how just a few easy shifts can help you make some powerful changes in your mood and your focus.