Food to Boost Your Mood

By Charlotte Bumstead
As temperatures continue to drop to a bone-chilling degree and the sun sets just before dinner, it makes this time of year a greater struggle to keep energized and eat healthy. The motivation from a new year and a fresh start begins to drain as the third week of January comes to a sluggish halt. This makes it even more important to focus on your goals and continue making gradual, vigorous changes to your lifestyle—and especially to your diet.

“I think we give ourselves a chance to drive through the drive-through and to order pizza more often this time of year. We’re more likely to buy the frozen foods that we can just heat up because we just don’t have the same energy that we do come spring and summer,” says Jennifer Pike, a registered holistic nutritionist of nine years. “This is definitely the time of year people need to motivate themselves to try to eat healthier, to get them through these next couple of months.” Pike, who is also a certified Personal Trainer and Medical Exercise Specialist, offers advice on foods that can boost your mood this time of year, while also helping you to maintain a balanced diet.

· Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids. flaxseed, walnuts, oily fish (such as salmon and sardines) are great options for increasing energy levels. These foods are also rich in protein, which helps stabilize blood sugar, keeping us feeling satisfied longer.

· Make sure you are consuming enough B vitamins; they help nourish your nervous system. More specifically, B12 and folic acid are very important. These come from leafy greens— edamame is a great choice. Also, drink lots of fortified orange juice and dairy, as well as dairy alternatives like almond milk and soy milk. Vitamin B12 comes from fortified food products—such as lean beef, cottage cheese and eggs.

· Include complex carbohydrates in your regular diet. These are foods with a high fibre source, and they are also rich in vitamin B. “When your body is responding to stress, your B vitamins are what your body is going to use up first,” says Pike. “So we get very depleted with our B vitamins; women more specifically than men, just because we take on our stress a little differently.”
Pike suggests having warm oatmeal in the morning. Eat more grains and avoid refined carbs; this includes crackers, as well as sugary cookies and donuts. These snacks will only suck up your energy and make your moods that much worse.

· Vitamin D is also important. “There’s no food that’s actually going to possess vitamin D on its own,” explains Pike. Again, it’s going to have to be something fortified. Pike recommends taking a minimum of 2,000 international units daily, in a supplement. Vitamin D is a precursor to the hormone serotonin, also known as the “happiness hormone,” for its association with mood regulation and relaxation.

· Eat smaller portions more often. Make constant mini meals a part of your regular routine so you are eating something at least every three to four hours.

· Drink lots of water and decrease your indulgences in caffeine and alcohol.
Following these tips for making slight changes in your diet will help to regulate your moods and keep you from feeling bloated or bogged down. Pike explains it will also help to, “keep your energy level up, because your body can actually use the food that you’re eating.” Continue this progress throughout the months to come, and don’t let your resolutions fall short this year.