Will Eating Healthier Improve Your Mood?

Iris Hunter

Editor’s note: [The intention of this article is to introduce the reader to good mood foods and is in no way a replacement to medical advice. If you would like more information about good mood foods contact a health care professional in your area. If you have medical questions, please contact your health care professional.]

How do you feel today? How did you feel yesterday? If you answered moody, stressed or tired, then you may be feeling this way due to your choice of foods. Yes, this is true since the food that you eat can not only affect your body, but it can also affect your mood.

Nvate better mood with food nutrition

Walnuts are an example of a good mood food, according to registered dietician Renee Clerkin. They contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Credit: freedigitalphotos.net graur codrin

Foods can affect a person’s mood for better or worse, according to the National Center of Health, Physical Activity, and Disability. In other words, if a person chooses to eat better then they will probably feel better, which will help to improve their quality of life.

“I think that food changes everything and if you change the food that you put into your body you can change the way that your body feels, the way your body operates and the way that you go about your daily life,” registered dietician and nutritionist Renee Clerkin said.

Why is Nutrition Important?

Nutrition is important to many individuals and many of them have decided to eat healthier in order to improve their quality of life. They want to become healthier in order to feel and look better. In addition, some also want to eat healthier to help prevent the onset of diseases.

Clerkin is passionate about health, nutrition and happiness. She enjoys consulting clients and helping them live a much happier life through nutritious eating. This is done by changing her clients’ eating habits with the purpose of reaching their health goal.

She believes every person is different and one-size does not fit all when it comes to eating healthy, so that is why her plans are individualized. Food is meant to provide enjoyment and nourishment, and both aspects are needed to turn healthy eating into a lifestyle.

“My approach is individualized based on an individual’s goal, lifestyle and personal preferences,” Clerkin said. “I provide nutrition education and guidance to my clients and my goal is to have them become their own nutrition expert.”

Which Foods can put you in a Happier Mood?

There are several foods that can boost a person’s mood, including foods that contain folate, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids. “A deficiency in folate is often linked to mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression,” Clerkin said.

She said that foods that contain folate include lentils, beans and spinach.

Pumpkin seeds, as well as spinach and beans, are good mood foods because they are high in magnesium. “Magnesium plays an important role in keeping stress levels low by calming the nervous system. A deficiency in magnesium is often linked to depression, irritability, inflammation, and insomnia,” Clerkin said.

“Omega-3 fatty acid is essential to proper brain function. Research shows a link between depression and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids,” she said. Salmon, walnuts and flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Eating good mood foods does not only affect emotions, but also has a great effect on overall health. “The good news is that any foods that support a healthy brain also support a healthy body. Any food that supports a happier mood will also support a healthier body,” Clerkin said.

Nvate better mood with food nutrition

The perfect fish sandwich is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which contribute to proper brain function.
Credit: Renee Clerkin

Clerkin’s recipe for the perfect fish sandwich combines fish, spicy aioli sauce and cabbage slaw between two slices of whole-grain bread. She recommends using whitefish or mahi mahi. The recipe and directions on how to make the sandwich can be found on Clerkin’s website.

Which Foods can Change your Mood for the Worse?

As there are foods that can help change a person’s mood for the better, there are foods that can do the opposite. Clerkin suggests trying to avoid foods that contain sugar and caffeine. Yes, this does mean a person may have to cut down on some of their favorite foods including cookies, candy, cakes and pies.

“A major goal with using food to boost one’s mood is to keep blood sugar levels and, therefore, hormone levels balanced,” she said.

“Sugar leads to a sudden spike in blood sugar levels. Caffeine leads to a sudden spike in energy levels. What goes up, must come down,” Clerkin said. “Sugar and caffeine, therefore, lead to a sudden rise in mood which later translates to a sudden crash in mood.”

“Certain artificial sweeteners, artificial colorings, and preservatives have also been linked to mood disorders and should be avoided for a balanced mood,” she said.

If a person has any difficulty trying to decrease their sugar and/or caffeine intake there are several ways they can handle this problem. “Some people do best just going ‘cold turkey’ and giving it up all at once,” Clerkin said. “I personally suggest gradually weaning yourself off of sugar and caffeine to avoid any unpleasant symptoms, such as headaches or fatigue.”

Deciding to eat healthier is easy, but actually doing it can be a much harder task to accomplish. However, even though it may not be easy to change eating habits by eating healthier foods, in the long run it will have a positive effect on a person’s emotions and body, according to Clerkin.

Visit Clerkin’s website to find out more about the services she offers and for more recipes.

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