by Janet Maccaro, PhD, CNC
ARE YOU LOOKING for the perfect “comfort food”? Do you need something that will improve your mood within minutes and maybe keep you feeling good for some time?
Carbohydrates—if they are complex carbohydrates—boost your brain’s serotonin levels, and serotonin is known as the “good mood” chemical. Avoid carbohydrates such as candy, sweet baked goods, and junk foods, even if they are the only things available in the vending machine at work. Those are simple carbohydrates, and their sugar content alone will give you a temporary “buzz,” only to let you down badly later. Instead, try some air-popped popcorn, fresh fruit, or whole-grain crackers.
Eat foods that provide folic acid.
Many people who suffer from low moods have been shown to have a folic-acid deficiency. Choose foods such as asparagus; avocados; garbanzos, soybeans, and other beans; lentils and other legumes; oranges; broccoli; and spinach and its dark leafy cousins.
Eat foods that provide magnesium.
Magnesium relaxes your tense muscles. Here again, avocados and spinach can help. You can also get magnesium from dark chocolate (in small servings, please), almonds, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.
Eat foods that provide niacin.
Some experts believe that niacin can help alleviate depression, anxiety, or panic. It is found in dairy products, poultry, fish, lean meats, brown rice, nuts, and eggs.
Eat foods that provide zinc.
If you lack zinc in your diet, you will have a very short “fuse.” You will be irritable and easily angered. See if you can improve your bad mood with some zinc-containing whole-grain bread, a glass of milk, an egg or two, or even some oysters.
Eat foods that are low in sodium.
The average American adult consumes more than twice as much sodium in a day than is recommended. This has the negative effect of making a person retain water, which makes him or her feel sluggish. It also causes blood pressure to rise, which is hard on every part of a person’s body.
Eat foods in moderation.
Even mood-enhancing foods should not be eaten in large quantities, or you will have too much of a good thing. Don’t let your low mood drive you to overeat. If you do, you will undo many of the effects of the good nutrition by raising your blood sugar and consequent insulin and cortisone levels. You want your food to enhance your mood, not swing it wildly back and forth.
What’s your favorite comfort food? Mine is Mac & Cheese Please 🙂