The other day I was working from home, with absolutely nothing to stress about, but for some reason I felt this nervous, uncomfortable energy.
I had a yoga class booked for lunchtime and I was filled with anxiety about going. Which is ridiculous!
Anxiety about attending a YOGA class? Ahhh, the irony.
We all have wobbles from time to time; days when we just feel overwhelmed, stressed or inexplicably anxious. Once upon a time I wrote a book about wedding planning – and naturally there was a huge section on staying calm before the wedding because BRIDEZILLAISM is real and can happen to the best of us (ahem!). Whilst undertaking the research for that book, here’s what I learned about foods that can really alter your mood – it’s fascinating and useful stuff.
I took my own advice and nommed on some dark chocolate before class – hey, the science says I did the right thing.
🍴 Top 10 Feel-Good Foods to Blitz a Bad Mood
1. Yoghurt / Probiotic Drinks. The gut is sometimes called the second brain because it’s home to most of the body’s happiness hormone, Seratonin. So if you’re stomach ain’t feeling right, neither will your mind. Probiotic foods such as yoghurt and yoghurt drinks can rebalance the number of good bacteria in your stomach, especially after a course of antibiotics, travel, or a period of too much alcohol / processed food / sugar. The calcium can also reduce any carb cravings.
If you don’t eat dairy, then miso, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi are all good non-dairy probiotic alternatives.
2. Asparagus is rich in Folate, a B vitamin that converts to folic acid in the body. Because both depression and anxiety have been linked to folic acid deficiency and asparagus is one of the top food sources of it, it’s a good veggie to add to your weekly shopping list.
3. Avocado – Instagram’s favourite fruit (yep, it’s a fruit) is rich in B vitamins. Since a deficiency of B vits has been linked with stress, you don’t have to feel bad next time you spend a tenner on a hipster style avo-toast brunch!
4. Almonds – All nuts are amazing brain-boosting powerhouses, but almonds in particular are rich in Zinc, a mood balancing mineral.
5. 🍲 Oats – It’s a good job that both porridge and overnight oats are such yummy breakfast options; oats boost Serotonin, the calming and happiness-boosting hormone and a bowl of oats will both boost a bad mood and regulate your appetite and cravings all morning.
6. Spinach is high in Magnesium, which can help reduce Cortisol levels – the hormone responsible for stress.
7. Blueberries. All berries are very vitamin and antioxidant rich so there a good snack to munch on. Blueberries in particular are high in both antioxidants and vitamin C, which can help to regulate Cortisol (stress) levels in the body.
8. 🍫 Dark chocolate. I knew it anecdotally, but perhaps my favourite discovery of this research was confirming with science that dark chocolate is the bomb for blitzing a bad mood! One of the causes of anxiety is low serotonin levels – fortunately for us, dark chocolate has large amounts of Tryptophan, an amino acid that also works as a precursor to Serotonin. So eat up, my chocoholic amigos!
9. Seeds. Flaxseeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds, chia… all seeds are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which can help decrease brain inflammation and in turn ward off depression and anxiety. Even more excitingly, they help increase the absorption of other nutrients eaten in the same meal, so if you were to add seeds to your oats and berries in the morning, you’d be off to a majorly winning start!
10. 🍠 Sweet potatoes. Root vegetables such as sweet potato, butternut squash and yam are naturally high in carbs – which we often all crave when we’re feeling low. They make a super alternative to refined or processed carbs, as well as white potatoes which are low in nutritional value and high in sugar. Sweet potatoes can stimulate the release of Serotonin, a natural mood regulator, without causing major blood sugar level spikes or appetite and mood blips.
So there you have it – a shopping list for a great mood.
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