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Almond and Coconut Bites

No question that what you eat can affect how you feel, right? Last week,  I shared a little bit on social media about how journaling helped me with my mood and breaking the negative thought patterns. It takes just a small something to annoy me and before I know it I’ve been pulled down into the spiral.

More I want to get out deeper I get. I blame myself first then I blame others and that becomes a pattern, a way that triggers so automatically by unpleasant emotions that we hardly notice.

A few years ago my therapist suggested I journal. In fact, I was already doing it when she suggested but I didn’t realise that I was. I use to write all about all the wrong the world was doing to me. The frustrations and all the other F words I knew at times.

I don’t know whether I believed in the process of journaling back then, I just love writing (surely you’ve had a secret diary as a teenager too). Then my therapist suggested I make a little tweak to what I was writing. Write all the wrongs but add a few things you are grateful for every day. This can be as little as the comfy bed to big things like being able to travel to foreign countries.

I can’t tell when things started changing, but doing it for several years now I can tell that I recognise very well when I am in a rut and need to channel my gratitude. It stinks to be in the bitter angry state of mind. Trust me, I speak with experience.

Slowly this negative pattern started breaking.. it takes patience and perseverance (a lot of it). That doesn’t mean I don’t go down the spiral anymore, the difference is that now I bounce back easily.

Mental health and brain health are complex. So are the foods we eat, and the ways our bodies interact with those foods.  Journaling, having a self-care routine in place and exercising all helped me with my health and I can’t say it’s just this or that at all.

But food has been a huge part of my recovery. We are what we eat after all. While, we don’t know the exact mechanisms of how food and nutrition help, we know a few ways food impacts our moods.

First, what we eat becomes the raw materials for our neurotransmitters. “Neurotransmitters” are biochemical messengers that allow our nerve cells to communicate (ever heard of serotonin?). They are important not just for thinking and memory, but also for mental health.

Second, what we eat affects our blood sugar. And having unstable blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings.

Let’s talk about mood-boosting and mood-busting foods.

Mood-boosting foods

Some nutrient deficiencies look like mental health problems; this includes deficiencies in B-vitamins, vitamin D, and the mineral selenium. So, getting enough vitamins, minerals, (and other things like antioxidants) are key. These nutrients not only reduce inflammation but also fuel the biochemical reactions in our bodies. Including those that create neurotransmitters. So make sure you’re eating a variety of nutrient-dense whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables. In fact, studies show that people who eat the most fruits and vegetables are the happiest.

Also pay special attention to vitamin D (the sunshine vitamin), as it’s not naturally occurring in too many foods. Selenium is an essential mineral found in Brazil nuts, walnuts, cod, and poultry. Try to add some of those to your weekly diet.

Second, make sure you get enough protein. Protein is your body’s main supply of amino acids. Amino acids are very important for mood issues because they are the building blocks of neurotransmitters. Protein also helps to regulate blood sugar. I recommend eating protein with every meal; this includes dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, poultry, and meat.

 

Third, complex carbohydrates like sweet potato and brown rice are great too. They allow better absorption of key amino acids like tryptophan. Tryptophan is used by your body to make serotonin (your “happy hormone”) and melatonin (your “sleepy” hormone).

Fourth, fish and other sources of omega-3 fatty acids (nuts, seeds, and algae) are also mood-boosting. Omega-3s are definitely “brain food” and may help to ease some symptoms.

Last but not least, make sure you’re hydrated. Mild dehydration can cause mood issues as well.

Mood-busting foods

You won’t be surprised to hear me say processed foods are mood-busters, right? Eating a lot of processed foods devoid of nutrients can increase your chances of becoming depressed by as much as 60%! This is on top of the research that shows nutrient deficiencies can look like mental health problems.

“But it makes me feel good!”

Yes, some of these mood busters can make you feel better temporarily. Some big food companies study how to maximize the “pleasure” centres with the perfect amount of sugar, salt, and fat. Not to mention the colour, texture, and taste; they can light up our taste buds and make us feel good… for now.

 

A few other things to avoid are:

  • Alcohol (nervous system depressant)
  • Caffeine (may worsen anxious feelings and ability to sleep)
  • Sugar (messes with your blood sugar and can worsen inflammation).

Conclusion

Bad moods can lead to bad eating habits; and, bad eating habits can lead to bad moods. If you need a mood boost, stick to minimally processed nutrient-dense whole foods. Things like fresh fruit and vegetables (including leafy greens), nuts and seeds, eggs, fish, poultry, and meat. Avoid common mood-busting foods like alcohol, caffeine, and sugar.

And remember, sometimes “feel good” junk foods, only make you feel good temporarily. So, try my newest recipe for fruit salad, below.

Sick of not knowing what’s going with your moods? Will it ever get better? As a Health Coach, we can look into what’s affecting your mood and energy. We look at several areas of life such as stress and sleep along with nutrition to see how this can be related to your health. Sometimes all it takes is that little tweak!

 

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Ingredients

•1 cup (120g) almond meal

•2 tbsp. of raw honey (or maple syrup)

•1 tsp. coconut oil, melted

•½ tsp. lemon juice (optional)

•2 tbsp. desiccated coconut

Instructions

Place the almond flour into a bowl, add honey and oil and mix well using your hand, pressing firmly. Form 6 balls.

You can also add half a teaspoon of lemon juice to break the sweetness.

Roll the energy balls in coconut

Makes: 6

Prep: 10 mins Cook: 0 mins

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