When you’re feeling low, reaching for sugary foods as a comfort can be tempting. Unfortunately, this road will only make you feel worse. Not only have high-sugar diets been linked to depression, this addictive little devil can lead to continuous cravings and binge eating, with irritability and mood swings in-between.
Choosing food that nourishes your body will also do wonders for your mind. But there are certain wholefood gems, packed with mood-boosting vitamins and minerals, that will transform the way you feel. Once you get these into your system, and begin to feel the benefits, you won’t look back.
Chickpeas are a powerhouse of nutrients. They’re loaded with B vitamins, which make you feel good by releasing your happy hormones (serotonin and dopamine). Low levels of vitamin B12 and folate have been linked to depression. These super legumes are also high in zinc, which plays a pivotal role in maintaining a positive mood. This essential mineral boosts GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), which encourages the nervous system to relax. Chickpeas also help you feel full for longer, so you’re less likely to get short-tempered through hunger.
Turmeric contains the active ingredient, curcumin (a collective name for a group of phytochemicals called curcuminoids). It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have been positively associated with depression. Additionally, this potent spice naturally lifts your spirits by adding vivid colour and intense flavour to your food.
Not only does chocolate instinctively make you feel great (just by the taste), enjoying this treat in its purest form, and in moderation, has additional health benefits. Cocoa contains flavanols, a powerful antioxidant that is believed to promote calmness and regulate mood. You’ll find the highest concentration in pure unsweetened cocoa powder and good quality dark chocolate. Just remember, a little goes a long way.
These super-sized rich and buttery nuts are high in selenium. Your body only needs a little of this essential mineral, but it boasts incredible health benefits. It’s great for brain health and is believed to help lift a low mood.
Pumpkin seeds contain high levels of magnesium, one of the most important minerals for the body. It is essential for brain function, supporting the nervous system and balancing hormones. Magnesium also helps you sleep, and we all know how grumpy we feel after a restless night.
Bananas are high in fibre and slowly release sugar into the bloodstream, helping to stabilise blood sugar levels and balance mood. They are also high in vitamin B6. Add to a breakfast smoothie or choose as a healthy snack.
Packed with fibre, oats slow down the absorption of sugar, regulating mood and energy levels. They are also a great source of B vitamins. Whether you soak them overnight in a plant-based milk, or warm them to make porridge in the morning, add some fresh berries and seeds for a turbo-charged start to the day.
Not only do the rich colour and sweet taste of berries naturally make you feel good, they are packed with antioxidants. These help fight inflammation and are linked to having a positive effect on depression.
Linking your mood to what you eat isn’t always obvious. It’s not until you change bad habits that you realise the life-changing benefits. The high from a sugary quick-fix will only end in a crash back down to earth, telling your brain you need another fix. Try breaking the cycle, and see how your mood stabilises.
How you eat is also incredibly important. Take your time and appreciate the joy it brings. Always drink plenty of filtered water to flush out those mood-dampening toxins, and clear your head with a post-lunch walk in the fresh air. Read more about mindful eating here.
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Do you suffer from low mood or depression? Do you crave sugar, but don’t know how to stop? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Click here if you’d like to find out more about changing your diet.