How to Boost your Mood with Good Food
“TO KEEP THE BODY IN GOOD HEALTH IS A DUTY, OTHERWISE WE SHALL NOT BE ABLE TO KEEP OUR MIND STRONG AND CLEAR.” — BUDDHA
Moods — They’re in a state of constant change. Some days you might find yourself riding the emotional peaks of happiness, joy, excitement, and passion, and on other days, you might find yourself riding the emotional valleys of sadness, pain, fatigue, jealousy, and disappointment. All of these emotions, high or low, are a natural part of the human condition. Our moods change in response to different situations, different people and different environments. Our moods are neither good nor bad but instead information about how we are experiencing life. So in order to maintain emotional balance, we have to learn how to tune into our moods without judgement, identify why we are feeling this way, and then decide how to change our thinking or actions if needed.
There are many different elements that can impact our mood, such as relationships, jobs, family and world events. However, the focus of this article is how are our moods are impacted by what we consume — specifically, the food that we eat.
To get a better sense of how food impacts your mood, first take a moment to reflect on these questions:
- The last time you ate, can you recall how you felt after?
- How in tune are you with your food cravings and what they mean?
- What are some of the foods that feel nutritious and intuitive to you?
- What are some of the foods that feel unhealthy or negative to you?
- When you think about your relationship to food? Do you find that it’s balanced and healthy? Or does it look different?
These are all great questions to ask yourself when first exploring how your mood is impacted by the food you consume.
Our worlds can be impacted by unhealthy messages about body image and dieting via social media, the news and social comparisons on a daily basis. These messages alone are enough to have an impact on our mood and beliefs about ourselves. Dieting trends, some healthier than others, have been popular for decades. But the problem with many of these programs is that they attempt to fit everyone into one plan, and this just doesn’t work. The truth is that there simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to creating a healthy, intuitive relationship to body and food. The journey to balancing food with mood is truly a unique and individual one that requires us to be aware, open-minded and intentional. It is a beautiful process that helps us create a nurturing, loving relationship with food, rather than one of judgement and frustration. This in turn helps us create more emotional balance and less frequent mood fluctuations.
So, how do we get better about balancing food and mood?
Here are 5 helpful tips to start your exploration:
1) Eat the rainbow — It might seem silly at first glance but eating foods of various colors ensures that you’re getting the necessary nutrients throughout the day to balance out your mood and create lasting energy.
2) Practice intuitive eating — Intuitive eating is entirely about listening to your body. It’s not about dieting trends, restriction, or judgement, but rather learning how to tune in and eat what your body is telling you it needs. For example, if you have a headache (with no underlying medical concerns) you might find that increasing your hydration or introducing foods that have higher contents of magnesium, vitamin D and B helps alleviate your discomfort. Remember — think of your moods as signals or messages for you to simply receive and then respond.
3) Eat anatomically — Another one that might seem silly at first glance but can be highly effective! Certain foods mimic, in shape and appearance, the very body part that they provide benefits to. For instance, walnuts take on the shape of our brains and research suggests that walnuts actually benefit the brain by providing omega-3 acids, which keep the brain functioning in healthy ways. Learn more about this here.
4) Identify your relationship to food. What unhealthy patterns need to change? What do you do well? This is a challenging step that requires some serious insight and maybe even some professional support. Ask yourself what your mood is before and after you eat or drink. Do you tend to gravitate towards foods that are higher in carbs or sugars as “comfort foods” when feeling particularly low? Do you see food as a cultural or social experience that can cause both healthy and unhealthy patterns?
5) Practice self-love — The truth is, we’re all human. Both perfectly flawed and full of strengths. The goal is to be the healthiest version of yourself whenever possible, and this includes our relationship to food. Ask yourself how you’re showing up in your own life and treat yourself with compassion.
Our moods exist not to judge but rather to provide us an opportunity for inquiry. The more comfortable you become with stepping into your emotions with interest, as opposed to criticism, you become empowered to be the leader of your own life. There are many things that exist outside of our realm of control but what we choose to eat each day doesn’t have to be one of those things. Lean into the journey and you might be surprised what you can learn about yourself!