Living amid a global pandemic can be stressful, to put it mildly. With uncertainty hovering around every aspect of our lives, it’s no wonder we’re experiencing a range of emotions and moods. So, how are you dealing with them?
You know that saying, “You are what you eat?” Here’s a twist to it: “Your mood is what you eat.” So go ahead, feed your feelings. But don’t feed them junk food. On your next trip to the grocery store, before you put on your mask, put some healthy ingredients on your list. Here are a few we suggest:
What to eat if you’re experiencing mental fogginess:
Folate helps you think more clearly. Commonly known as Vitamin B9, folate (aka folic acid) is needed to help your body produce neurotransmitters that include serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. These three natural mood stabilizers can enhance your sense of pleasure and provide mental clarity. Low folate levels are a known risk factor for depression. So, how can you boost your brain with folate? Load up on leafy greens, avocado and citrus fruits.
What to eat if anxiety is getting to you:
Choline, a recently discovered essential nutrient first acknowledged as a dietary nutrient by the Institute of Medicine in 1998, affects several vital body functions. These include liver function, muscle movement, healthy brain development and your nervous system. Studies have even suggested that choline can protect you from dementia and cognitive decline. Where can you get this wonder nutrient? Your body produces some, but many people are deficient. It’s found in commonly consumed foods, including eggs, seafood, beef and Brussels sprouts.
If you’re frustrated, annoyed and irritable:
Magnesium can help! It’s an essential mineral in the human body, contributing to more than 300 enzymatic reactions that range from nerve and muscle function, blood pressure regulation and supporting immune function. Magnesium deficiency is common in the US. Studies show that low magnesium levels are linked to increased levels of anxiety. To go from stressed to not-nearly-as anxious, try eating magnesium-rich foods including almonds, spinach, peanut butter, cooked edamame, avocado, oatmeal or bananas.
What to eat when you’re feeling apathetic:
Pump some iron! Into your body, that is. Iron is an essential mineral for your body. It carries oxygen from your lungs in hemoglobin within the red blood cells to oxygenate and energize your body. Without enough iron, you can feel lethargic and downright moody. When you get enough iron, it helps the neurotransmitters responsible for focus and pleasure—serotonin and dopamine. Your body can easily absorb iron from animal protein, but if you’re a vegetarian, try adding fresh lemon juice to spinach, which is an iron-rich plant-based source. Why add lemon? Because the acid in lemon juice can boost the absorption of iron significantly (by two to six times!). In addition to spinach, iron is found in beef, dark meat poultry and lentils.
What to eat if you’re having memory issues:
If your memory isn’t serving you well, it may be because you’re low in omega-3 fatty acids. Your brain needs omega-3s to function at its peak performance. Your body can’t produce omega-3 fatty acids, so you must consume them dietarily. Omega-3s are abundant in fatty fish including salmon and sardines, but can also be found in plant-based foods such as chia and flax seeds, and also in cauliflower and kale.
When you incorporate healthy foods into your diet, you’re giving yourself the best odds of feeling great despite dealing with the difficult situation we’re all enduring. A delicious, healthy meal can have a significant impact on your mood and attitude!