Food & Mood Connection
Healing the wounds caused by Food Stress and Food Confusion
By Mary Trybuskiewicz, RD, LDN
When I say the phrase: "food stress and food confusion" many people can identify. Fueling your body used to be a simple process- grow food, raise food, eat food. Then came the 1950's where food in a box was introduced, and the 1980's where everyday foods (ie:fats) were suddenly seen as bad for you, and big food companies starting adding and subtracting ingredients to make our food "healthier." And now in 2017 there are enough food choices to make your head spin.
So where does the healing begin?..... In your head! Feed your body, mind and spirit. Here are a few simple suggestions to help you to really eat healthy “comfort foods:”
1. Read all food labels from BOTTOM to top, and Google what you aren't familiar with. Some additives are downright harmful and can disrupt the natural rhythms in your body. For example, most artificial flavors and colors are petroleum based; “high fructose corn syrup” is neither fructose or corn syrup. This is unfamiliar to your body. Thus your body doesn’t know what to do with it. So, it coats it with fat and stores is as fat….and not the good kind!
2. As Hippocrates suggested in 460 BC, "Let Food Be Your Medicine." If you are plagued by pain, fatigue or brain fog, start removing the #1 and #2 probable causative foods from your diet and see how you feel. There isn't a standard, effective laboratory test to determine which foods are your personal mood busters, so an elimination diet is your best bet.
3. Certain foods provide energy bursts and these coupled with exercise, are an excellent way to improve your mood. Certain foods decrease stress hormone levels and thus improve your mood. These include:
Salmon, halibut, walnuts
Dark chocolate (87% decrease)
Citrus fruits, bell peppers, dark green leafy vegetables
Some vitamins and minerals also affect mood. Magnesium reduces anxiety and B6 acts as a mood stabilizer.
4. Lastly, add some color to your plate! Our plates "pale" in comparison to our foreign neighbors, and even our own families plates from years gone by. Add color by adding vegetables rich in color and thus nutrients and vitamins along with some fruit and watch your plate and your mood come alive. Fruits can add sweetness and give us a natural “sugar high” while vegetables are low in calories and sugar, and provide much needed fiber to our daily diet. Remember, the more color a vegetable has, the higher it’s nutritional content and value.
Following these few simple steps can help make eating enjoyable, energizing and make you all around feel good!