Jan 1, 2016

Between FOOD & MOOD

This time of year people are making New Years Resolutions by going on a diet. Unfortunately healthy eating habits can be challenging to maintain with our modern lifestyle, which can generate feelings of stress that can disrupt our good intentions, which in turn can affect mood.

Health guidelines would have us believe that eating well is primarily about nutrition, and that nutrition is the foundation of a healthy body and mind. Eating well is primarily about preparing the right food for how you happen to be feeling, a tool that makes a direct connection between how we feel and what we eat. There's more and more research indicating that, in some ways, diet may influence mood. It seems that dietary changes can bring about changes in our brain structure (chemically and physiologically), which can lead to altered behavior.

No matter how you feel, energetic, well-balanced or sluggish, unmotivated, irritable or just down in the dumps, mental health and physical health are intertwined. Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you feel healthier and happier in this new year
:

Eat a Balanced Breakfast. Simply skipping breakfast is associated with lower fluency and problem-solving ability, along with lack of energy and motivation. Eating breakfast regularly leads to improved mood, according to some researchers – along with better memory, more energy throughout the day, and feelings of calmness. It stands to reason that skipping breakfast would do the opposite, leading to fatigue and anxiety. And what makes up a good breakfast? Lots of fiber and nutrients, some lean protein, good fats, and whole-grain carbohydrates.
Yogurt – Hawaiian Style

Eat good sources of protein. These include eggs, nuts, fish, whole grain quinoa, yogurt or cheese. Protein consists of amino acids, the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps stabilize blood sugar, which can interfere with concentration and mood when elevated (hyperglycemia). 

Avoid high-sugar foods or refined carbohydrates, such as bagels, doughnuts, and other refined grain products, and make sure cereals are truly whole grain (preferably organic), like oatmeal. It's important to make smart carbohydrate choices like whole grains, vegetables, and legumes, which also contribute important nutrients and fiber. Generally, try to eat whole fruit rather than drink fruit juice, as the fiber in the fruit will help slow down absorption of sugars in the fruit as well as be more filling.

So what happens when you follow a very low carbohydrate diet? According to researchers from Arizona State University, a very low carbohydrate (ketogenic) diet was found to enhance fatigue and reduce the desire to exercise in overweight adults after just two weeks. I knew there was a reason why I like carbohydrates. Mashed potatoes... YES!

Eat at least 6 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruit every day. Try to get all of the colors of the rainbow. One serving = 1/2 cup.

Sesame Salmon Sashimi
Mind your dietary fats: Found in both plant and animal foods, these play a significant role in brain function. Omega-3 fats from foods such as fish, flax seeds, walnuts, some eggs, and grass-fed beef have been shown to improve cognitive function and lower depression by reducing inflammation. Excessively low-fat diets, as well as diets high in processed foods, are linked to mood changes. 

Choose beverages wisely: Drink plenty of filtered water to improve blood flow and keep your brain well-hydrated. Avoid sugary drinks or those with artificial sweeteners, colors, flavors, or preservatives. Limit or avoid alcohol, and limit coffee intake. Green tea has been shown to reduce anxiety and sharpen mental focus while relaxing the mind.

Vitamins are key: Take a high quality, natural vitamin and mineral supplement daily. Many of the B vitamins such as B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B6 (pyridoxine), folate, and B12 (methylcobalamin) have been shown to reduce the incidence of depression. Low levels of Vitamin D3 increase one’s risk of major depression. Also, low levels of magnesium, selenium, and zinc are linked to mood changes.

Edamame
Snack well: Pack healthy snacks such as nuts, fresh or dried fruit, and veggies to keep your blood sugar stable and give you energy. One of my favorite snacks is edamame (soy beans). It's low in calories and fat, but packed with protein and fiber.

Diets: If you have to go on a diet, I suggest choosing the Mediterranean diet. It includes plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and fish – all of which are important sources of nutrients linked to preventing depression.

With the Mediterranean diet, you won't be counting calories or cutting out major food groups. Instead, you'll be swapping out bad fats for heart-healthy ones (olive oil instead of butter; fish or poultry instead of red meat); enjoying fresh fruit instead of sugary, fancy desserts; and eating your fill of flavorful veggies and beans. Nuts are a mainstay, too, but keep them to no more than a handful a day. And you can have whole-grain bread and wine in moderation. 


Ah yes, moderation. People need to think about moderation all the time. Weight loss involves adjusting lifestyle, diet and calorie intake, while overcoming the psychological barriers too. 

It's all about FOOD & MOOD! 

Remember only you are in charge of how you feel, so today choose to be healthier and happier!" 

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Have a Healthy and Happy New Year!
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