When you see yourself gaining a little winter weight, or you’re told you need to lower your cholesterol, the first thing you often think is about the foods you eat. When you’re feeling sad, lethargic, unmotivated, or even depressed, does the food you eat come to mind? Probably not. It certainly never has for me.
Scientists are increasingly realizing the connection between food and our mental health though, which is huge for anyone who wants to feel better without the use of medication.
The food we eat is extremely important as our bodies rely on it for growth, development, and energy. The brain plays a massive role in all bodily functions, so it only makes sense that we take more time to focus on what we’re feeding it. Even just starting the day off with a healthy breakfast, instead of going to the drive-through, can greatly improve your mood.
Top ways to eat happier and improve your mood
Focus on Nutrients – Iron and Omega-3’s
The easiest way to make sure your diet is optimized for brain health is to check the nutrients you’re consuming on a regular basis. Some of the nutrients that are key to proper brain function are not naturally produced by the human body. Omega-3’s for instance. The body cannot produce these on its own, which means that many people are not consuming enough. The best way to improve your Omega-3 levels is by eating fish regularly.
Iron is another nutrient that is key to proper brain function, which is often lost in modern unhealthy diets. A decrease in iron leads to iron deficiency, which includes symptoms of fatigue, exhaustion, and even depression. One great way to make sure you’re getting enough iron is through instant oatmeal, which is also a simple and easy breakfast choice.
Eliminate Processed Foods
Many of us are not getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients in our diets to allow our brain to function optimally. To make matters even worse, modern technology has lead to the addition of many harsh chemicals and substances in our diets as well.
One immediate step you can take to ward off feelings of fatigue and depression is to cut the processed foods out of your diet. Fast food coffee drinks, processed meats and cheeses, and ice cream desserts are all foods that are as easy to eliminate from your diet as they are harmful to you. Not only will you feel better mentally, but eliminating these foods can also lead to weight loss and many other health benefits!
Cut the Sugar
This one can be much harder to do but is also extremely rewarding. While the immediate feeling of a diet void of sugar may be lethargy and hunger, the long-term effects are incredible. You’ll be in a better mood, feel more energetic, motivated, and can even lose weight and improve heart health.
Cutting sugar isn’t simple though, so before starting this journey do some research on ways to cope with possible withdrawals and how to make sure you’re cutting the right types of sugars. If cutting sugar seems like a particularly arduous task, there are many ways you can make it easier on yourself. Such as:
- Boosting your serotonin levels naturally
- Staying hydrated
- Enjoying fermented foods and drinks
- Eating more greens
For more steps on how to make this process easier on yourself check out Body Ecology’s 10 Tips for eliminating your sugar craving.
If you are are feeling tired, lethargic, unable to focus, stressed, or even depressed, the first place to look for answers should be your diet. A healthy diet is about more than just counting calories and avoiding carbs. Make sure your nutrition habits are not only great for your body, but for your brain as well.