Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental disorders in the US, affecting over 40 million adults. While they are easy to manage and treat, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment. Studies have shown that the food that we eat can alter our moods and bring about some positive changes in our lives.
Below you’ll find a list of foods that you should eat and those that you should avoid in order to stay happy and positive. These can easily be found at your local stores, so you can add them to your weekly meal plan, giving yourself a much-needed boost of happiness.
It’s no secret that potato chips are an unhealthy choice of snack – they’re fried in saturated oil full of omega-6 fatty acids. These acids can make you feel low by blocking mood-enhancing omega-3 fatty acids. For happy feelings, you should snack on popcorn. It’s rich in carbohydrates which causes your serotonin levels to soar, making you feel happy and relaxed.
2. Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate contains anandamide, a compound that helps make you feel calm and relaxed. It’s also known to block feelings of sadness and pain. For the best results, consume chocolate that contains at least 72% cacao and less than 5 grams of sugar. Research has shown that after enjoying some dark chocolate, people are more likely to help others.
Bananas are full of mood-enhancing elements such as dopamine and vitamin B6. Eating one in the morning will ensure that you’re happy throughout the day. However, make sure that the banana is organic as the pesticides that are often sprayed on non-organic fruit contains neurotoxins which can adversely affect your mood.
4. Soft Drinks vs. Green Tea
We are all aware that soft drinks aren’t good for our health, but they’re also not good for our mood either. These drinks contain a high concentration of carbohydrates which can instantly boost your mood, but your raised sugar levels come crashing down faster than they go up, giving you a giant mood swing. As an alternative, drink green tea. The theanine present in green tea helps to fight anxiety and makes you feel more relaxed.
Processed meat often comes from animals that are not fed healthy food. Furthermore, they’re often injected with preservatives, dyes, and nitrates which are known to cause depression and mood swings. Opt for salmon instead as it contains vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, two nutrients that have been shown to increase levels of the feel-good neurotransmitter, serotonin.
6. Sugar vs. Honey
While the health conscious among us might avoid adding sugar to our tea or coffee, it often still finds its way into our diets. Consuming sugar will momentarily provide us with a lot of joy, but when the initial rush wears off, it can lead to anxiety and depression. Honey is a great healthy alternative to sugar. It contains kaempferol and quercetin that help prevent depression by reducing inflammation in the brain.
Cherries are a great source of melatonin, a hormone that helps you sleep well. Furthermore, cherries are natural painkillers and can help make you feel relaxed. Therefore, instead of feasting on store-bought peanuts which often contain high levels of monosodium glutamate and sodium that are known to cause headaches and mood swings, eat some tasty cherries.
8. Deli Meat vs. Turkey
Cold cuts might seem like an easy and tasty option, but the colorings, preservatives, and additives that are in them can leave you with headaches and mood swings. Even though it’s much more time consuming, it’s much better to cook a turkey and slice it up yourself.
Soy yogurt is made by adding bacteria to soy milk. It can help your digestive system, but the omega-6 fatty acids present in it blocks the mood enhancing omega-3 fatty acids. On the other hand, spinach is rich in omega-3 and folates which regulate our mood by boosting the levels of serotonin in the body.
10. Salt vs. Black Pepper Powder
Eating too much salt can increase our blood pressure, which, in turn, can lead to depression and bad moods. Black pepper powder is another seasoning that can be added to your food, but unlike salt, it won’t make you depressed or put you in a bad mood. In fact, black pepper contains the compound piperine, which has been found to fight depression and increase the cognitive function of the brain.