Using Food to Change Mood
By: Beth McHugh 2007
Prefer a natural alternative to changing your state of mind? While major chronic mood disorders require counseling and intermittent drug treatment, often we can make small but significant changes to our diet and lifestyle to assist us to get out of a bad frame of mind. Try these simple tips next time you have a case of the “blahs”.
- Feeling Irritable?
Maintaining steady blood sugar levels will help stave off sugar swings that can lead to irritability. Eating 5 to 6 small meals throughout the day and never missing breakfast can make for a much more stable mood. Supplementing with chromium, zinc and the B group vitamins will also help. Avoid sugary foods that will spike blood sugar levels. Include protein in each meal for staying power. Get into the habit of taking 10 slow breaths before you speak or make a decision when under intense stress. This slows your body’s fight-or-flight mechanism and also allows you to act on rather than simply react to the situation.
- Feeling stressed?
We all know about stress. Work, social and family commitments, not to mention personal trauma, can take their toll. Try withania, Siberian ginseng and B group vitamins. Don’t skip meals just for the sake of time; ultimately it doesn’t work in your favor. If pressured for time, choose healthy takeout food that is unprocessed and low in fat and sugars. Try a yoga class once a week and listen to a meditational CD before going to sleep each night.
- Feeling down?
The herb, St. John’s Wort can help in cases of mild depression. It is available in tablet form from health food stores. Do not take with prescribed antidepressants as negative interactions may occur. If you are taking antidepressants, always inform your doctor about your intention to take St. John’s Wort. Also try Bach flower remedies, gentian, and sweet chestnut: all are similarly available from health food outlets. Comfort foods are great for slight depression and include warming casseroles, roasts, porridge and soups. Counseling is recommended where simple remedies are ineffective, and keep an open mind about antidepressants.