Improve Your Mood: Healthy Meal Ideas to Give You the Good Feels
Say goodbye to stress, fatigue, and getting “hangry”
They say you are what you eat. While none of us are over here literally turning into avocados or smoothies, the sentiment is not too far off the mark. Ever noticed yourself feeling sluggish or bloated after a fast food meal? Crashing hard after a sugar-laden snack? What about an unshakable down-in-the-dumps mood? As it turns out, the connection between what you eat and how you feel emotionally is stronger than you probably think. If you’ve felt a little off lately, may be it has something to do what you are eating on a regular basis. If this sounds familiar, perhaps some healthy meal ideas will help put some pep back in your step.
Low mood is associated with decreased motivation, unhealthy eating habits, and low activity levels. It is a vicious cycle that leads to weight gain and makes it harder to burn off fat. It is important to note, however, that it is not scientifically proven that you can eat your way out of a mental illness or disorder. This stands only for brief periods of less than ideal mood. If your lack of motivation, or feelings of sadness increase, consult your physician as these are signs of depression, rather than just an occasional bad mood.
Eating well does more than boost your mood. It boosts your general brain function, increases energy, and loads other parts of your body with necessary nutrients to thrive throughout the day. Not sure where to get started? Ready to give your weekly meal prep routine a facelift? Try these delicious dishes, packed full of the good stuff needed to keep you smiling like its Friday, all week long!
1. For Complex Carbs- Try Quinoa Tabbouleh
Despite the media demonization of carbs, complex carbs are super beneficial for your mood. Consuming too little carbs, like the ones found in grains, leafy produce, and legumes can lead to fatigue. By choosing complex carbs, over the over-synthesized ones found in white bread or bleached flour, you help tryptophan travel through the body. Tryptophan, when absorbed from food, becomes 5- hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) which is then converted into serotonin. Serotonin, you may know, is the brain chemical tasked with regulating anxiety, happiness, and general mood. A lack of tryptophan may be responsible for your less than happy days.
This Quinoa recipe takes a favorite of Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cultures and gives it a complex -carb packed twist. Replacing bulgur wheat with quinoa, this vegetarian salad is hearty, yet refreshing.
2. For More Omega-3s try a Salmon Poke Bowl
Poke, once a regional favorite, and now a global phenomenon. Poke is a raw fish salad, originating in Hawaii. Think of a deconstructed sushi roll, in a heaping bowl. Poke consists of raw fish, marinated soy sauce, sesame oil and onions. From there, you can find everything from rice, seaweed, cucumber, avocado, to sesame seeds and sriracha topping these colorful concoctions.
But, we’re here for the Omega-3s. Many studies have linked Omega-3s to brain health, including the neurotransmitters that help move tryptophan along.
This version of poke combines wild frozen salmon, avocado, yellow onion, scallions, cilantro, brown rice and arugula for a zesty, flavorful meal packed with omega-3 rich foods.
3. For a Balanced Breakfast: Peanut Butter Banana Oat Breakfast Cookies
Cookies?! For breakfast?! Well, this post is about lifting your mood via food, but what about the healthy part? While cookie-like in shape and texture, the contents of these nutrient-packed disks of joy are much closer to a homemade snack bar. Here you have the potassium of bananas; vanilla protein powder and peanut butter for an energy boost, applesauce, nuts and oats for a balanced breakfast.
So many of us skip out on breakfast, due to busy lifestyles, lack of healthy options and in some cases, a misguided attempt to lose weight. A lack of breakfast can lead to a lower mood, overeating during future meals, and low concentration. A nutritious breakfast, as opposed to one packed with processed sugar and carbs, is a mood-booster, an energy boost, and a pretty easy way to lose weight.
For those on the go, make these cookies in batches and keep them in an airtight container for up to one week. Grab 2 on your way out the door, or while you chug your morning cup of coffee. A balanced breakfast does not need to be an hour-long affair.
4. For more Vitamin D & Folate Try a Greek Omelet
Mediterranean diets are often hailed as one of the healthiest and most conducive to weight loss. A Greek omelet is a great way to get your essential Vitamin D, which many people are deficient in. Feta cheese, while on the fattier side of dairy, is great in moderation. Feta is a fantastic choice for increasing your calcium and vitamin D intake.
There’s a reason therapists often recommend more time in the sun for greater moods. Vitamin D helps in elevating mood and moderating emotions.
Mix eggs, spinach, feta, scallions, dill and pepper and cook in a 10-inch skillet for a nutritious entrée suitable for any meal.
5. For B12, Iron, Vitamin K and Antioxidants, Try Nacho Cheese Kale Chips
You may want to sit down for this one. What if I told you that there was a way to curb that craving for half a bag of nacho cheese chips that you crave oh-so-badly on a bad day? Loaded with preservatives processed carbs, saturated fats, and a lot of unnecessary chemical nonsense, you’re better off skipping bagged chips. But with a little prep work, you can make a nutritionally satisfying alternative, that will also help your brain health.
A common issue for people who take up plant-based diets is the development of a B12 deficiency. B12 is mostly found in meat and dairy. B12 is essential for healthy blood cells and a functioning nervous system. Yet, 4 out of 100 women over age 40 show signs of a deficiency. A deficiency is usually characterized by fatigue, breathlessness, numbness, poor balance and memory trouble. Not to mention the poor mood you will probably be in. A great, not-so-well known way to get your B12 levels up? Nutritional Yeast!
Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast that comes in a dry, flaky powdered form. It’s nutty, cheesy flavor makes it a great substitute for powdered or grated cheeses, especially if you are avoiding dairy.
Kale, a well-known nutritional powerhouse, adds a punch of iron, vitamin K, and antioxidants to your snack time treat.
Other Food-Related Problems that May be Disrupting Your Mood
You’re Still Eating Cold Cuts
While cold-cuts, especially those that come in the plastic container, seem like a great way to get a solid serving of protein- stop! These preservative, sodium-laden mystery meats are a HCG Diet Plan disaster. Not to mention, a lot of the junk in the meat slices could be contributing to your lack of energy.
Look to have fresh, preservative free meats whenever possible. Or, look to get your protein from alternative, plant-based sources.
You’re Not Eating Often Enough
Too many people assume that their weight gain is entirely attributed to eating too much. Even more often do we critique this line of thinking, stating only that it forces the body to retain fat and over eat later on. This method can also be causing your poor mood.
Some of us call this “hangry”, the short-fused, irritable behavior only quelled after a meal. This is NOT just a personality trait, it is a biological response to inadequate food intake. While sugar is generally frowned upon in a healthy diet, allowing your blood sugar to drop (also known as hypoglycemia) affects your brain function. Self-control, and actions like regulating emotions, dealing with stress, and avoiding impulses diminish.
Eat when you are hungry, and make sure it is nutritious. This can help you avoid a major, unnecessary breakdown.
You Have a Negative Association With Food
Perhaps you have struggled with your weight for most of your life? Maybe a health-scare made you conscientious about what you eat to the point of near paranoia? No matter the source, for some, eating alone is a point of stress and anxiety.
A negative association with food can lead to feelings of guilt or sadness after meals. In some cases, binging follows a “slip”, when you eat something that is out-of-line with your ideal diet. This is unhealthy and can lead to dietary and mental health issues. If your meals are come prepared with a side of shame, talk to your physician about ways, such as Adipex P, that can be utilized to reduce this negative association.
Your Caffeine Intake is Too High
Caffeine, in moderation in the form of coffee or tea, can be great for you. But if you are overdoing it, you can quickly find yourself feeling nervous, short-tempered and unwell. A high caffeine intake can lead to caffeine addiction. If you find yourself suffering from headaches, irritability, depression, or sleepiness without your sixth cup of coffee, it is probably time to wean yourself off.
If you’re ready to make the commitment to a healthier mind and body, Solutions Weight Loss can help. Our medically supervised weight-loss systems assist you in making the right dietary choices for your specific needs and goals.
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