When you stick to a diet of healthy, nourishing foods, you’re more likely to be in a better mood, have less mood fluctuations, and feel less irritable. But why? Learn below!
Food and mood: how they’re connected
Research shows that food and mood are directly related. What we eat impacts the way that we think and influences the way that we feel. The reason behind this is that our gut and brain are directly connected through a system called the Gut-Brain Axis. Since we won’t get too sciency for you here, we’ll put it simply: what we eat goes to our gut, our gut relays the quality of the food and how it makes our gut feel to our brain, and the brain relays that information to the rest of our body. Therefore, eating healthy can make us feel better, decrease depression, reduce anxiety, and much more!
Because we know of the strong connection, it’s important for us to understand what foods to eat and focus on.
What foods you should eat
Food can do all of the following: improve our mood, increase our energy, and help us to think more clearly. So let’s dive into which foods can do all of this!
Complex carbs are a type of carb that are made up of longer sugar molecules. They are more complex, ie they have more nutritional value, than that of simple carbs. Because of their complexity, they release energy more slowly and therefore provide us with a sustainable energy source. This keeps us energized and in a better mood throughout the day. Lastly, complex carbs are also a great source of fiber, which we’ll discuss in the next section under veggies!
Some of our favorite sources of complex carbs include:
- Oats (Peanut Butter Energy Bites)
- Quinoa (Black Bean Quinoa Burrito)
- Brown rice (Pulled Chicken Enchilada)
- Beans (Black Bean and Egg Scramble)
Vegetables are known for increasing our mood by providing us with quality nutrients. Veggies are packed with many different vitamins and minerals. One important nutrient, fiber, helps to make our gut, and therefore our brain, happy. Fiber fuels the good bacteria in our gut and gives us another sustainable energy source. Fiber promotes satiety as well, making us feel full longer. Veggies also may have antioxidants and are an anti-inflammatory food. These qualities can make us feel less stressed and anxious, therefore improving our mood. Any vegetables work for this category, just choose your favorite! Pure Plates offers plenty of vegetarian and plant-based food options to maximize your veggie intake.
Fruit is a solid source of antioxidants which can have a positive impact on our mood. Fruit is also filled with fiber and as previously stated, fiber helps to improve our mood. Aim to have at least 2-3 servings of fruit per day to maximize your antioxidant and fiber intake. At Pure Plates, we love the Fruit Bomb Bar.
Protein is another nutrient, specifically a macronutrient, that can influence your mood. Protein contains amino acids which make up the chemical structures of our brain! Because of this, protein is necessary for a good mood and quality energy levels. We recommend consuming protein with every meal to make sure you are obtaining adequate protein each day. Pure Plates provides you with protein-packed meals so that you don’t have to worry about it yourself. We love the Fiesta Chicken Quesadilla.
Eating inconsistently, and also potentially under-nourishing your body, can leave you feeling tired, irritable, and depressed. You’re likely to be unproductive at work and feel like you can’t concentrate on anything. The reasoning behind this is that you aren’t supplying your body with the adequate energy and fuel that it needs to support its everyday functions! Long story short: don’t skip meals and snacks. Some of our tips to eat regularly include:
- Eat breakfast: start your day off strong and boost your metabolism
- Snack throughout the day
- Avoid foods that only provide a quick energy spike (and therefore not steady energy) like candy, cookies, or other junk food
By staying hydrated, we’re also likely to continue to stay concentrated and motivated. Those who are dehydrated have difficulty thinking or may not think clearly. Aim to consume at least 64 fl oz of water per day, or 8 cups. Water can come in the form of coffee, tea, non-caloric seltzer waters, and foods. Although important to note – caffeine in the form of coffee or tea should be consumed in moderation!
If you have trouble getting in adequate water, find ways to remind yourself and keep yourself accountable. Set a timer on your phone every few hours to remind yourself to consume a glass of water. Some individuals find it useful to place a sticky note at their desk or refrigerator. Other individuals always carry a water bottle with them, and may find that a water bottle with a straw is extra useful! Regardless of what method works for you, it’s important to consume adequate water daily.
Water can also be found in many different food sources! While it’s nearly impossible to measure how much water is in each of these on a day-to-day basis, try incorporating more of these foods (and also choosing meals that have them on Pure Plates menu!):
- Skim milk
As you can tell, food can have a major impact on your overall health, including your mood! Eating healthy and nutritious foods can put you in a better mood, increase your energy, and decrease risk of depression. Pure Plates provides you with plenty of mood-boosting foods that are perfect for your everyday routine.