It has been widely established that staying home and not having much to do turns into a staring contest with the contents of your fridge. Some people may often feel guilty for eating too much when they are not actually hungry. But this is absolutely more than okay - as long as you are eating the right things. You don’t have to only eat when you are feeling hungry. Food can do so much more for you than satisfy hunger or boredom. Feeling down? There are foods that make you feel happy! Feeling anxious? There are foods to relieve that stress! Feeling tired? There are foods that give you energy! Feeling sick? Yup, there are even foods you can use as medicine!!To get a better idea of what to eat for mood and why, take a look at the following lists. However, before trying any of this out, it can not be stressed enough how important it is to be in the right mind frame while eating for correct digestion. Beach Fitness’ Nutritionist, Holly Barrett, states, “If you are not eating in a parasympathetic state (rest & relaxation) you are not digesting and, therefore, not absorbing any of the nutrients in the food you are eating to support mood. To get into rest and digest mode, before eating: practice gratitude, or mindfulness; take deep breaths; eat slowly, chewing food thoroughly; don't multitask and eat; be present. Digestion starts in the brain, so you have to be aware of, and during, the process of eating.”
Not being able to leave your house can often leave you feeling bored, trapped and eventually depressed. But if you pick the right food to eat, you may be able to avoid feeling this way. If you’d like to understand how food can make us happy, How Stuff Works does a great job of explaining it. To paraphrase, the brain regulates mood by using neurotransmitters to communicate with the rest of the body. There are chemicals found in these neurotransmitters that can help stimulate our bodies and minds, as well as calm us. And the chemicals in these neurotransmitters are created by compounds found in food, with some foods producing more neurotransmitters than others. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter most commonly linked to feeling happy. Here are a few foods that will help produce such chemicals in your body.
Many people have found this lockdown and threat of illness to be very scary and quite stressful. We are all worried about what might happen to ourselves and our family members. It has even created a financial crisis for most people. So if you are going to be doing stress-eating anyways, you might as well eat foods to help reduce that stress. Another benefit of serotonin is that it promotes relaxation and improves sleep, thereby reducing any stress or anxiety you may be feeling during these uncertain times. Tryptophan also aids in stress reduction. It is a chemical found in foods that the body uses to create serotonin. Healthline explains that tryptophan is an amino acid that “can be converted into a molecule called 5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan), which is used to make serotonin and melatonin (hormone that regulates sleep).” So by eating the foods listed below, you’ll be able to find happiness, relaxation and a better night’s sleep, all-in-one!
It is almost ironic that spending so much time doing a whole lot of nothing can often make us feel even more tired or lazy. If you are having trouble feeling motivated or finding the energy to get up and move around, try to find that energy in your food. Our body is able to create energy from macronutrients found in food, such as carbohydrates, fat and protein. Livestrong explains the difference between each: “Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream. Fat is a major source of stored energy and is held as a reserve in the body until we need it. Protein is broken down slowly and is a longer-lasting form of energy.” Even though all foods give you energy, some foods contain specific nutrients that allow for you to maintain focus and alertness, as well as boost your energy levels, more so than other foods. So if you are looking for that extra boost, try out a few of these foods.
As mentioned earlier, a big part of why we are stressed during COVID-19 is because we do not want to catch the virus, nor do we want our family and friends to fall ill. Besides keeping our distance from one another, we want to ensure we maintain a highly functional immune system and one of the best ways to do that is to monitor what we put inside our bodies. Food really can act as medicine (and it is so much more enjoyable)! For a much more detailed explanation, Healthy Kids Happy Kids is a highly recommended resource. But for now, here are just a few foods that can help support your immune system.
Isn’t the power of food just incredible? To think that some people feel shame over eating is unfathomable. Now, that’s not to say that we can eat whatever and however much we’d like. We still want to avoid foods such a refined sugars, processed and fried foods, flour/wheat, unfermented soy, etc. These types of foods will often have the opposite effect and make us feel stressed, unhappy and lazy. They can also cause health issues such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, leading to heart issues. But to avoid eating any foods altogether, just because you’re not hungry, is insane. Take advantage of these amazing benefits and keep your belly full and satisfied! Enjoy every bite, staying mindful (as mentioned in the beginning) and feeling grateful to have access to an abundance of food that can improve your mood and well-being.