Good Food, Good Mood

Our mood is often connected to the food we eat, both in positive and negative ways.  Drinks are included in this relationship.  This post will dig into some food-mood connections to help you develop mood-boosting intake strategies.

Breakfast is easy to skimp on when we are on the run to get to work.  We can do better with planning.  For instance, having fruit and healthy “grab–n-go” foods always handy can make healthy choices happen in a rush.  Dropping the sugary drive-through coffee for a healthier alternative (no sugary additives, lower fat creamers) saves money and makes the “buzz-bomb” healthier.

Feeling “hangry” can happen when we are hungry, and circumstances we do not like sour our mood.  The hunger does not mix well with negative experiences, leaving us short in responding, upset toward impositions or disappointments, and snappy toward people.  That combination of hunger and anger can interfere with judgment, clear processing, and thoughtful responding.  Unfortunately, many of the snack foods we tend to grab are not very helpful.  Sugar-based snacking can lead to swings up then down in mood.  Excessive caffeine intake can leave us on edge.  What do we do? 

Healthy snacking takes a little forethought and planning. For example, clearing one’s spaces of sugary snacks and stocking up on fruits, vegetables, whole grain-based snacks, nuts, 100% juices and waters can make it easier to choose wisely.  Staying hydrated and “snacked-up” before stressful times or long work periods can help improve your mood and performance.

This works at home.  One healthy snack switch at home is to ditch the chips for mini-peppers from the produce section and ditch the dips for hummus.  Delicious, healthy, and it stays with you longer.  You can even make your own hummus!

Scheduling regular snack times can help balance energy and mood and can lead to healthier snack availability.  Having yogurt, a bag of nuts or veggies, apples, and cheese sticks ready and knowing when you will eat them can keep you on track and more upbeat.

Well-balanced lunches during the workday can help to stay with you longer and keep the mood up as well.  Soups are good in the winter but may not seem filling enough to get you through your shift.  You can improve them by adding root vegetables, instant barley, instant brown rice, whole-grain crackers, or cut vegetables on the side.

Both coffee and black tea contain caffeine and antioxidants.  Coffee has more caffeine and tea more antioxidants.  You can lower the afternoon “buzz-factor” by switching the coffee for the tea when needed, like when you are drinking it late in the day. Tea is warming and healthy, and the antioxidants help prevent some cognitive impairments and inflammatory diseases.

Pop or water?  It is easy to grab the flavored, colored, sweetened drink in the moment, yet few of these are healthy, or even helpful in supporting better mood.  Water is so much healthier.  With the advent of unsweetened, fruit-flavored, carbonated waters one can get the fizz effect and still stay on the healthy side.

Image via author’s breakfast. Just kidding. It came from Pixabay.

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