Drained. Easily Irritated. Irritable.
Despite getting sufficient hours of sleep every night, I wake up feeling completely knackered in the morning and irritable all day long and thought about what the reasons could be. Hmmm… stress could be a factor but after reflecting back on my mental food diary, I began wondering whether it could be my diet that has been affecting my mood.
Many studies have been done analysing the chemical properties of various foods and how it affects your body. For instance, foods can be precursors to neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, which can influence the way we think, feel, and behave. Other chemical reactions can be fluctuations in blood sugar levels that will affect our energy and mood and be aware whether or not our body is deficient in certain vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids.
Foods that Destroy Your Mood
2. Diet Soda
- Being Chinese, this is rather difficult to avoid and after cutting out dairy, I’ve been using soymilk as a substitute for my coffee. Soy contains goitrogens, which can negatively impact your thyroid and lead to exhaustion and irritability.
- Alternative: almond milk (my new favourite milk substitute!)
- Addicted to Coke Zero? I was! Diet soft drinks contain artificial sweeteners that wreak havoc to our bodies and mood and can also make us hungrier and crave even more sugar!
- Alternative: if you really want something fizzy, try sparkling water instea
- Sure, you may need a pick-me-up. Sugar may give you that temporary high but this rise in blood glucose level is very short lived. This is because your body will respond by releasing insulin to normalize your glucose level and you will feel a sudden a drop in energy.
- Alternative: I use natural sweeteners like Stevia – although still controversial, I am still keeping my eye on this alternative
5. Processed Foods
- It’s a vicious cycle. Every morning, I’m sleepy and so I crave my morning coffee with soymilk. This caffeine may be another type of pick-me-up but this can trigger anxiety and cause irritability
- Alternative: I started mixing green powder with almond milk and if you have time, my boyfriend swears by his crazy green juices and smoothies for energy!
Foods that Make You Feel Good
1. Foods High in Selenium
- Anything highly refined or saturated with trans fat can not only lead to a wide array of diseases but studies have shown that eating a diet high in processed foods increases the risk of depression
- Alternative: Try sticking to a diet filled with nutrient whole foods and make sure you get well balanced meals
2. Complex Carbohydrates
- Studies have shown that if you are deficient in selenium, it can make people more irritable and depressed
- Eating foods high in this nutrient can support thyroid function and therefore, boost your mood but be careful not to OTT in selenium because our bodies only need small amount
- Example: brazil nuts, liver, shellfish
3. Omega-3 Fatty Foods and Fatty Plant Foods
- Refined carbs should be limited but do get your complex ones in! Complex carbohydrates can boost the level of serotonin in your brain and elevate your mood but again, make sure they are minimally processed so they do not cause spikes in your sugar level.
- Example: sweet potatoes, steel cut oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice
4. High-Folate Foods
- Transfatty Foods is a NoNo but not all fats should be treated the same. Omega-3 rich foods and Fatty Plant Foods can decrease the likelihood of someone suffering from mild depression and also, your glowing skin will thank you!
- Example: fish, chia seeds, walnuts, avocados, and coconut oil
5. Iron-rich Foods
- Deficiencies in folate has been linked to depression because it can decrease serotonin levels in the brain
- Example: dark leafy greens (spinach, broccoli, kale) and legumes (Beans and lentils)
- Women often suffer from low energy levels during the time of the month because we become deficient in iron when we menstruate
- Therefore, we often feel exhausted, depressed and irritable
- Example: pumpkin seeds, legumes, sea vegetables, spinach
So if you feel like you've been in the dumps lately, trying incorporating some of these suggested foods and see how you feel!
Good luck xoxo
Struggling with your food choices? Click here to check out our 14-Day Nutrition Guide