How to lift your mood when you are feeling blue
Although it is such a vast and complex topic I wanted to touch on low mood today and how we can use food and exercise to lift us when we are feeling blue.
Have you been feeling down lately with a lack of energy? No motivation? Anxious? These kinds of emotions will affect every one of us at some point and it can be hard to spot at first and even harder to get yourself away from those feelings.
Eating the right food and taking part in regular exercise (that you enjoy) is essential for optimum health and vitality. There is new research which suggests low mood is linked to Gut Health and the consumption of pro-inflammatory foods i.e. wheat, gluten, dairy, alcohol, sugar, processed food – you get the picture. So basically our brains and belly are linked and putting the latter in to our bodies can have implications on how we feel, our mood and our emotional health.
Spurts of depression, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or sad can quickly turn in to a daily habit. Taking control of this and eating a diet high in good fats, lean protein, good carbohydrates, proper hydration and taking part in daily exercise, combined, will help to enhance your mood and ultimately make you feel and look healthier and happier.
Why are foods and moods related?
Spikes and drops in blood-sugar levels caused by food are associated with changes in mood and energy.
Food influences brain chemicals which in turn influences how you think/feel.
Artificial colourings and flavourings are in so many foods and can cause abnormal blood sugar levels to spike and hormones to go in to overdrive.
You may have hidden food allergies that cause mood swings, cravings, and feeling slow and sluggish.
Nutritional deficiencies from not eating enough of the right foods i.e. vitamins, minerals, fatty acids – these can all affect mental health.
There is also the psychological relationship:
COMFORT FOOD! You may be feeling down and so you head to the kitchen and start munching on whatever you think will make you feel better or just distract you from the mood you are in. This is all well and good short term but usually we feel bad after and often it can make you feel super bloated and uncomfortable if you have over indulged in the sweeter variety of foods!
The mix of guilt, brain fog and tiredness can all make you feel really low so it becomes a vicious cycle! We should think twice before we make that journey to the kitchen!
So, here are some tips to help you plan your meals and maintain a healthy and happy you:
Good fats are vital for brain health and help keep you feeling fuller for longer as feeling hungry…well we have all heard of ‘h-angry’ is never good! (Avocados, oily fish, olives, olive oil, lean meats, nuts and seeds, eggs, coconut oil)
Fats also keep cravings at bay and the foods above will not affect your blood sugar levels – so there will be no spikes.
Vegetables contain A LOT of minerals, vitamins and fibre to keep us fit mentally and physically. So pile on the veg at breakfast, lunch and dinner! I’ll let you in to a secret here - I sometimes dip broccoli in my eggs for breakfast. Don’t judge me, I know it sounds crazy but it is really nice and by avoiding bread I don’t have to inject insulin for my diabetes and blood sugar control! Steaming is recommended as one of the top ways to cook veg and get the most nutritional benefits.
Your brain needs amino acids found in protein to regulate your hormones. So stock up on chicken, turkey, salmon, eggs, chia seeds, quinoa, leafy greens to name but a few!
Cut down on those coffees! Caffeine is a stimulant and therefore can make you feel anxious and disturb your sleep. Yes they look, taste and smell GREAT but see them as a treat once a day or better a couple of times a week. Instead drink decaf and herbal/fruit teas. You will feel fooled at first, they don’t taste anywhere near as good as they smell but they are definitely growers. I challenge you to give them a chance! Mint and Lemon & Ginger are good flavours to start with.
Are you drinking enough? No, not wine! Water, water, water. The guideline is 3 litres a day… I know that can seem quite a task, but by keeping water always available you will find you drink more. If you don’t drink enough water, you can feel down and low on energy. If you don’t like water add a slice of lemon, lime or cucumber for extra flavour!
Other good mood foods:
Walnuts, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, garlic, olive oil, broccoli, bananas, tuna, coconut, flaxseed, oats, pistachios, spinach, green tea, dark chocolate (yes! but not too much), blueberries, asparagus, chickpeas, almonds, kiwi, pumpkin/butternut squash…the list goes on!
Your energy, memory, focus, and your happiness will all increase if you fill your days with good foods and exercise you enjoy. Exercise can be anything to get your blood moving faster round your body, a fast walk, a light jog, a spinning class or my favourite PILATES!
Reduce things that cause imbalances in your body and feed your body with the things it needs to heal - like good food, vitamins, minerals, omega-3 fats, and endorphins!
Hopefully this will inspire you to go seize the day and make changes to feel the way you deserve to feel and is HAPPY.