Article & Photography by Faras Aamir | Owl Staff
“You are what you eat.” Sound familiar? We’ve been hearing this for ages but research suggests that the phrase can be taken literally when comparing it to your state of mind.
Mood and energy are interconnected. The foods you choose have a heavy impact on your day-to-day mood.
However, there is a vast difference between eating to simply satisfy your cravings versus eating to energize your body. The Mayo Clinic, a renowned medical research group, explains that a proper intake of fruit, starchy vegetables, whole grains, carbohydrates, and protein keeps your blood sugar levels healthy and your serotonin levels up.
Serotonin is responsible for maintaining balance in your moods and sleep patterns. This regulation goes back to the flow of energy within your body. Deprivation of serotonin, or not producing enough of it, can cause depression and anger.
It is important to know what is going into your food to understand how it can alter your mood. Most foods that seem healthy, even those marked “natural” or “organic,” are mixed with additives and preservatives, which can negatively impact your mood.
This is why it is important to check what else is listed on packaging with the natural and promising-looking fruits and vegetables.
The same goes for nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin) that are often salted or sweetened with artificial flavors. There are also “fake foods” like margarine, which may cause you to feel blue because of the industrial fats and sugars used to make them.
On another note, not eating anything can have the same effect on you as eating unhealthy foods (i.e. donuts, French fries, and sugary energy drinks).
These foods contain high amounts of sugar, sodium, and caffeine, which disrupt our great moods. It’s no wonder that eating fast food and drinking soda can drain you and make you feel sluggish.
Although coffee may give you that boost you need in the morning, large amounts of caffeine can actually lead to feeling anxious. Even decaffeinated coffee is not totally caffeine free.
So what kinds of foods actually boost mood?
A small amount of chocolate, for example, can help get you out of a stressful or gloomy mood. Studies conducted on CNN reveal that eating chocolate releases endorphins, also known as “feel good chemicals” in the brain. Wild salmon is another good option.
According to Prevention Magazine, “People in countries with the highest fish consumption have the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder.”
DepressionHealth.net also states that “bananas are the king of mood-boosting superfoods, offering a rapid enhancement of mood soon after you eat them.” Prevention Magazine adds that the compounds of tomatoes trigger dopamine, a chemical that works as a reward in your brain.
The vitamin C and B6 in oranges relive anxiety. Grapefruits have also been found to “curb depression and enhance memory,” adds Prevention.com.
Even chili peppers contain capsaicin that work with receptors in our brains to help us relax. This effect is similar to drinking a glass of milk before going to bed in order to ease your mind.
By following the proper diet and throwing in some of the feel-good-eats mentioned, the next time you hear “you are what you eat,” smile and be proud.