Do you have that favorite family recipe that even a whiff of it brings a smile to your face? Or perhaps a favorite comfort food you like to cozy up with when when it rainy and cold outside? What about when you are sad or happy... are their certain foods your reach to for celebration or consolation? Well if you don't, then I've got all those bases covered for you. haha. I love food!
It can be pretty amazing how food can comfort, control, support, or exaggerate our moods. Having an understanding of this concept can help us better understand ourselves, and therefore support ourselves a bit better if we are going through a stressful or emotional time. This enlightenment can hopefully help us draw some awareness to our moods before we immediately drown ourselves in a bottle of wine and a box of chocolate. (No judgment if that does happen though... I've had my share of stress or comfort eating as well.) Especially as the seasons shift, many people feel a shift in routine and moods as well; it's always good to be aware of this, and I believe knowledge is power.
Lets dig deeper shall we? Below I share the most common mood in-balances, as well as the foods and nutrients you can consume to combat them, heal yourself and bring your systems back into balance.
THE FOUR MOST COMMON MOOD IN-BALANCES
1. The Dark Cloud : This mood is related to serotonin deficiency, and is by far the most common. (some researchers estimate almost 80% of adults suffer from this) Serotonin is our primary defense against depression and anxiety; all the more reason to try keep it at a healthy level.
Common Symptoms of Low Serotonin Levels:
- often feel worried or anxious
- easily self-critical
- trouble "turning your brain off" when trying to go to sleep
- perfectionist, neat-freak or control freak tendencies
- experience fall or winter depression when cold/dark weather sets in
- apt to be irritable, edgy or angry
- fearful or panicky about heights, spiders, large crowds or anything else
- get PMS (strong moodiness, tears or anger)
2. Suffering from the Blah's: This one is related to the lack of vitalizing thyroid hormones, leaving many people needing stimulants to combat their chronic exhaustion.
- feel the need to consume lots of "uppers" like caffeine, chocolate, and for some drugs.
- feeling frequently bored, or depressed, or mentally sluggish
- low on energy mentally or physically...constantly having to push yourself to exercise or get things done
- difficulty focusing or concentrating
- need a lot of sleep, slow to rise in the mornings.
- easily chilled, especially hands and feet
- easily gain weight
- easily retain water
- nervousness, anxiety, panic
- difficulty breathing
- adult acne, eczema
- hair loss
3. Overwhelmed by Stress: this one is related to adrenal overload. When stress causes your adrenals to overwork they get tired and other physical symptoms and disease can move in and take root.
- Depression or rapid mood swings
- dark circles under your eyes
- dizziness upon standing
- tendency to always catch seasonal colds
- salt cravings
- trouble falling asleep, or staying awake
- not feeling rested even after a full nights sleep
- feeling tired all the time
- feeling of being mentally and emotionally over-stressed
- need for caffeine to get you going each morning
- low blood sugar symptoms
- tendency to get upset or cry easily
- haven't felt your best in a long time
- startle esily
- relieve depression with eating
- sweet cravings
- grind or clench teeth at night
4. Over Sensitive to Life's Pain. This one deals with endorphin deficiency. Your genetics as well as your stress level, and level of emotional or physical pain. These have an effect whether or not you are endorphin deficient.
- do you consider yourself sensitive or emotional?
- do you cry easily?
- avoid dealing with painful issues
- find it hard to get over losses or past grief
- been through a great deal of physical or emotional pain
- crave please comforts, like: food, marijuana, chocolate, tobacco, ect
How to support and balance your moods. What we put in our body has such an effect on the rest of our systems, including our cognitive patterns and moods. Luckily any moodiness, stress, anxiety or depression can be healed through healthy, whole foods....pretty cool, right?!
REINSTATE BALANCE: GOOD MOOD FOODS
- Protein: eats lots of it to feed and support all your neurotransmitters that send out positive feelings, and are composed of 22 different types of protein, called amino acids. It is recommended to eat 20-30 grams of protein at each meal, at least 3x a day.. one serving of protein equals the size of the palm of your hand.
- good sources of protein include: fish, chicken, eggs, lamb, beef, pork, dairy and shellfish (as tolerated), beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, & oatmeal
- Fats: despite what our fat-phobic culture says...we need fats. In the case of supporting our moods, they help our brain function, boost our neurotransmitters, like dopamine and serotonin to give us increased focus and energy. A little bit goes a along way, but you certainly don't want to be deficient in it, or overdo it.
- good sources of fats: look for omega-3 and omega-6 fats... they provide the best benefits and results, such as: coconut oil or coconut milk, butter, extra virgin olive oil, avocados, fish, greek yogurt, nuts, and seeds.
- Vegetables: you really can't eat enough of these beautiful and energizing foods. Vegetables definitely contribute to good moods with all of their vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients to keep your brain and body strong and nurtured. Shoot for 5-7 servings per day.
- good sources of vegetables: spinach, kale, chard, cabbage, tomatoes, peas, cauliflower, bell peppers, carrots, celery, beets, zucchini, broccoli and much more.
- Carbs: this is not in reference to white bread or starchy potatoes, but rather healthy, nutrient dense carbs like: fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains. Fruits tend to be rich in Vitamin B, which your brain uses to produce serotonin. These are more gradual carb fuels for your body that don't result in a good mood high, followed by a blood sugar crash, bad mood, sluggish body or headache. Instead, these unprocessed, whole food carbs are easier to digest, full of fiber and vitamins that increase our serotonin levels and good mood vibrations.
- Good sources of unprocessed carbs: apples, oranges, lemons, watermelon, bananas, peaches, and berries can help keep your moods elevated, especially if you are feeling a mood crash coming. Legumes such as lentils, split peas, beans and whole grains are also good sources of unprocessed carbs.
- Basic Supplements (these are simply recommendations..tweak based on your needs.. for example: I just take a quality multi-vitamin and a calcium supplement each morning):
- Daily multi-vitamin/mineral
- calcium 250-500mg
- magnesium 200-400mg
- vitamin D 400IU
- B complex 10-25mg
- vitamin C 1000mg
- fish oil 300mg
- Special Repair Supplements (to match with the above mood deficiencies if you felt any matched your symptoms)
- Lifting the Dark cloud: 5-HTP 50mg or L-trytophan 500mg
- Blasting the Blahs: L-tyrosine 500mg or L-phenylalanine, fish oil 300mg, Tyroid glandulars
- Easing the Stress: GABA 200mg, Calmes forte, L glutamine 500mg
- Desensitizing from Life's pain: DLPA 500mg, freeform amino acid bland 700-800mg
- Sleep repair: melatonin 3-6mg, folic acid 1000-5000mcg, iron 15-20mg
GOOD MOOD FOOD GUIDELINES
- Eat enough, especially protein!
- Eat regularly to keep your systems level and steady (at least 3 meals per day)
- Drink enough water to continue flushing toxins that are overworking your body and mind (take your body weight, divide it by two, and drink that number in oz each day)
- Eat organic when you can to ensure your food is nutrient-dense, and hormone and chemical free.
- Avoid "bad mood foods" such as: sugar, white-flour starches, soy, and processed fats, like vegetable and corn oil,
*** For more information on this topic, you can buy or reference this great Book: The Mood Cure by Julia Ross.
Tune in, eat up and cheer up...health is wealth!