You've heard the old sayings “you are what you eat” and “let food be thy medicine”? These are wise old adages that today we totally disregard. Why? Because we are overworked, overstimulated, over-marketed and overtired.
We've all had certain days when we just don’t feel right or happy, when we're irritated all day long, like we woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Women chalk this up to that time of the month or the change of life. If we aren't healthy enough to support these stressful times, our hormones do get wacky!
What does food have to do with everyday mood? Everything!
During her withdrawal from benzodiazepines, I used food to help with my mother’s anxiety, depression and emotional well being. I cleansed her diet of caffeine, sugar, dairy and gluten. On those occasions that my sister let her have one of the above, my mother would at some time present with psychosis and rage, sometimes right away, sometimes not until days later. My sister had to learn the hard way that food affects your mood.
So, food can actually affect your mood? Absolutely! It does every time you eat. What we choose to put into our bodies can affect the delicate balance of certain neurotransmitters (gut and brain chemicals), along with other hormones that play a role in your mood and appetite.
Have you ever given a child or even an adult something sugary and noticed a change in their mood or behavior? How about the guys pounding down a couple of brewskies? Notice a change in your man after a few beers? Maybe he gets tired or cranky, or becomes loud and embarrassing. You like to sip on a glass of wine because it relaxes you.
These are all examples of how food can affect your mood. Alcohol is a depressant and dehydrates your body. Sugar can send you on a roller-coaster ride of emotions that starts with an energy load and ends with a plummet in your blood sugar, resulting in a tired feeling, leaving you hungry and wanting more.
Let’s quickly talk about the average American breakfast
You may be one of those people who chooses not to eat breakfast. Huge mistake! Breakfast is fuel for your body after an overnight fast. Not eating breakfast leaves you literally running on empty, and makes you tired and cranky all day.
If you do eat breakfast, maybe you have a "grab and go" item like a bagel or pastry, or you try to eat healthy and grab a banana. Probably 95% of you will accompany this with a cup of coffee with something added to it like sugar or an artificial sweetener, low-fat milk or a non-dairy creamer.
For those who rush out the door, you might head over to a drive thru to pick up your ready made coffee and something to eat. More and more children are eating a breakfast like this too.
Bagels, bread, pastries and breakfast sandwiches, oh my!
This kind of breakfast is being marketed to us everywhere. We're told these are the best choices to start the day. Did you know that eating just one plain bagel is like eating 8 slices of white bread? Now add the cream cheese, and you've hit the jackpot! A simple carbohydrate and gluten overload that is difficult to digest and can create leaky gut. Here comes the brain fog.
Bananas are no better, especially if you eat them on an empty stomach. Bananas are high in sugar, without enough fiber to slow the burning process. That’s why you feel great when you eat a banana but then get hungry fast. Eat a really ripe banana and you may feel like you're drunk. Maybe you eat bananas because you think they're a good source of potassium. Think again. Bananas are listed as number 200 on the “contains potassium" list. Try coconut water or an avocado instead.
On average, the typical breakfast does not consist of drinking water
Let’s think about this for a minute. You just woke from sleep (or an attempt to sleep), you rushed out of the house to head to school or the office or whatever, and you have not hydrated. Your brain is made up of 70% water, so tell me, what do you think your mood is going to be?
You're feeling “down” or “crabby” in the morning because you woke up dehydrated. You start your day with a cup of coffee instead of water because you feel you need coffee to start your day. Caffeine is a stimulant, and your body has become dependent on the rush. Caffeine, however, not only dehydrates you, it causes inflammation in your body. Your gut becomes an acidic environment causing acid reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. Over time your gut falls out of balance and digestion becomes a problem. You may experience leaky gut or dysbiosis (good/bad bacteria).
Physiological Effects – Livestrong.com
Caffeine's stimulant effect on the central nervous system is dose-dependent; the more caffeine consumed, the stronger the stimulant effect. It blocks a neurotransmitter called adenosine, which is a central nervous system depressant and has a calming, slowing effect on the brain. When adenosine is blocked, the adrenal glands begin secreting adrenaline, which is the chemical associated with the body's "fight or flight" response. This response is characterized by increases in heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar levels. When caffeine blocks adenosine, it also leads to increased dopamine levels, which are associated with an elevation in mood.
Isn't low-fat and skim milk healthier? NO! Low-fat and skim milk are just gray water. All the nutrients are taken out when they take out the fat, and synthetic vitamins and minerals are added back in. Your body can't absorb those synthetic supplements. You want a healthier option? Choose grass-fed, non-homogenized whole milk whenever possible.
So maybe non-dairy creamers might be better, right? Nope. Read the labels and you'll probably find artificial flavors, corn syrup, and trans fat in them. All of these play with mood!
Making healthier food choices can improve your mood, increase energy, and help you to think more clearly
As you can see, food does affect your mood. A lifestyle like this can certainly induce or even worsen symptoms of anxiety, depression and insomnia. You have just begun your emotional roller-coaster ride for the day.
Food for thought – most serotonin “the happy-making neurotransmitter” is made in the gut, not the brain. Poor gut health could prevent its production. What does this mean? You have less of those happy chemicals in your brain. Food affects your mood!