Emerging research underscores the link between what you eat and how you feel. Couple that with studies showing how exercise positively affects mood, and you have a winning combination for a dynamic lifestyle choices.
First though, we know that even mild dehydration has mood-dampening effects, so drinking plenty of water helps keep stress at bay while also helping to curb hunger, which might lead to binge eating. Tea is a healthy beverage choice, and is very hydrating. Bonus: green tea may have mood benefits as well as help cut fat. Drink up! Remember too now, one cup of coffee a day is fine, too much caffeine however causes anxiety.
Starting the day:
- A stress hormone called cortisol, which is necessary in small doses, can also cause cravings. Eating berries, such as blackberries, strawberries, and raspberries, which are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, can balance out cortisol levels. And, while were giving credit to fruit, let’s not forget the mighty banana. Bananas are high in potassium and vitamin B6, which both help fight stress.
- Researchers link better mental health to diets that include lots of fruits and vegetables. So, how about having a fresh fruit salad of bananas and berries, or get a boost from a fruit smoothie to start your day and be on your way to stress-free and healthy eating. Bonus: the antioxidant benefits of fruit and vegetables also give your skin age-proof radiance.
- Carbohydrates in small doses, stabilize blood sugar and cause the release of serotonin, the good mood hormone. Healthy options include different types of cereals, whole-wheat pastas, and even honey. The best choice though is oatmeal. Oatmeal stabilizes blood sugar more than ready-to-eat cereals, which is a key to maintaining an even mood.
- Protein from plants and animal sources provide amino acids that act as neurotransmitters and keep the mind alert. Omega-3-rich fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, lake trout and halibut, and especially sardines, has a dramatic impact on taking depression out of the equation.
- Building meals around whole grains like brown rice and black quinoa may boost levels of serotonin. Folate, found in beans, leafy vegetables, oranges, tomatoes, most produce, and fortified grains and cereals, can also improve serotonin levels.
- A healthy meal that stems from the popular Mediterranean Diet may include lentils as a first course, then risotto with grilled shrimp and vegetables, followed by melon for dessert.
- Finally, some nutritionists ask their clients to save the bulk of carbohydrate intake for evening meals so that the sedative effect might aid in getting a better night’s sleep. Many sources say that foods containing tryptophan are good to eat because they produce serotonin, which has a calming effect. Turkey, beans, and cottage cheese all contain the soothing chemical and come in low-fat, low-sodium varieties too.
And then there were snacks:
- If you’re a snacker here are some ways to indulge your desires while regulating your body’s stress response.
- Healthy snacks, like a handful of pistachios helps keep blood sugar levels (and mood) even between meals. Other healthy options that make perfect on-the-go snacks are apples, oranges, bananas, pears, and baby carrots.
- With the vast snacking options available, there are also indulgent selections that are low in calories and also may have mood boosting affects. For example, five pieces of a Dove dark chocolate bar with peanut butter equals only 180 calories. Which means if you have one or two pieces it’s still under 100 calories — a welcome surprise for snacking chocolate lovers.
Living a healthy and happy life is easy. You can give your mood and energy levels a boost with good nutritional choices and a regular exercise routine. Remember to browse the ACE GETFIT website for exercise tips, and additional ways to live healthy.