You are what you eat – and your diet choices may be having a greater effect on your mood than you realize. From sugar spikes and crashes to funky artificial additives and even natural chemicals, watch out for menu items that include these sneaky mood saboteurs.
If you suspect your food sensitivities might be more serious than you realize, keep a mood and food journal for one or two weeks. On one page, write down every single thing you eat, and on the other side, how you feel, from slight annoyances to near-panic attacks. Only by tracking your consumption can you pinpoint if certain foods you eat on a regular basis are upsetting your mood and your system.
When you’re in a bad mood, you’re more likely to reach for an unhealthy snack, because all your brainpower is being used to handle your emotions. Stock your pantry with healthy, tempting options so that when a bad mood inevitably strikes, you can avoid all the choices below.
1. Fried Potatoes – Crisps, fries and other potato snacks are usually fried in oils heavy with omega-6 fatty acids, plus potatoes release the carcinogen acrylamide when fried. For a healthier salty snack, try air popped popcorn or roasted almonds.
2. Peanuts – Packaged, in-the-shell peanuts sold at ballgames and bars are often loaded with sodium as well as MSG – monosodium glutamate, an artificial seasoning associated with headaches, fatigue and respiratory issues. Choose shelled peanuts instead.
3. Bagels – Packed with refined carbohydrates, bagels are like a sugar bomb to your blood system – like eating six pieces of bread all at once, which you would never do (right?). A bagel breakfast will almost always be followed by a mid-morning feeling of “meh.” Start your day with whole grain bread instead, and watch your mood improve.
4. Soda – Associated with birthday parties and fun times, the sweet taste and sparkly texture of sodas is hard to resist. The super high sugar content will make you feel great for a while, and then like crack rock it will turn and crash your energy levels.
5. Cocktails – Having a glass or two of red wine these days is practically doctor’s orders. But we all know that alcohol in any form is a depressant that must be handled carefully. Remember: never drink to feel better, only drink to feel EVEN better. Alcohol enhances any mood – even a bad one.
6. Coffee – While usually associated with a mood upswing, coffee can easily create anxiety and agitation if you drink too much too fast. Start with one cup and try alternatives like green tea if you tend to get jittery after drinking coffee.
7. Unhealthy Anything – When you put junk food into your body, you’re sending yourself a message that you’re not worth anything better. Conversely, when you honor your body and treat it with care and make healthy, organic diet choices, you’ll feel better about yourself and life in general.