Is there such a thing as Mood Food? Does food affect your mood? Or vice versa? It certainly affects mine.
What is Mood Food?
When I’m feeling down, I reach for food. When I feel like celebrating, I reach for food. Huh. There might be a pattern here. I think I always reach for food. (Just kidding, but I do like food.) The combination of the recent pandemic and the political polarization has had me reaching for uplifting food a little more often than in the past. Are you doing this, too?
Comfort Foods, Anyone?
Often people reach for a relaxing glass of wine or a piece of chocolate for a little bliss. Others reach for family comfort foods, the foods our moms made when we were growing up. What’s your comfort food? Besides food, how do you improve your mood? I’ll give you 10 suggestions for “getting your happy on” in just a minute.
Mood Food is food that affects your mood or emotional state. I have found that, for me, some foods are happy mood foods (chocolate) and others are sad mood foods (definitely milk). That is, eating certain foods can improve my mood and a few foods make me sad.
Milk, It Makes My Body Sad
One food in particular affects my emotional well being. Milk. Although I’ve known for years that I’m dairy intolerant, I didn’t know until recently that milk affects my mental state. I usually avoid milk and cheese because dairy causes inflammation in my body. When I eat it, it doesn’t take long for my joints to hurt. Milk that is cooked into a recipe usually doesn’t affect me as much. I took a chance one day and ate Chipped Beef Gravy. Sometimes you crave what you know you shouldn’t eat, right?
Within a couple of hours I was in a pit of despair. And I am not one who generally sits around and mopes. Nothing had happened. I hadn’t talked to anyone, read anything sad, or been notified of a sad event. I had no reason to suddenly be sad. I was so down, my husband was worried about me. Heck, I was worried about me.
When the milk cleared my system, I was back to being my usual, happy self. I’m pretty sure the milk was the cause of my depression. Has anything like this happened to you? Besides avoiding those triggering foods, what can you do to improve your mood?
How to “Get Your Happy On”
If you would like to figure out how to reach for something other than food to improve your mood, pick up a copy of Deborah Ann Davis’ eBook, How to Get Your Happy On: An Awesome Mom Handbook. You will be glad you did, even if you aren’t a mom.
10 Tips to Get Happy
Tip #1: Take care of your body
Eat healthfully, stay active every day, and drink water. Every positive choice we make for our bodies has an automatic mini power boost associated with it.
Tip #2: Count your blessings
List three good things about you, your day, your surroundings, your family, your job, etc. Take note of the good in the people and things around you. Be thankful for every detail.
Tip #3: Do something for someone else
Any kindness is important, even something as seemingly insignificant as smiling at a person or simply saying hello.
Tip #4: Volunteer and/or donate
Find something that you enjoy (a passion or hobby) and turn it into something you can do to benefit others, such as delivering meals to those in need, volunteering at an animal shelter or donating to your local hospital, elderly center, schools or homeless shelters.
Tip #5: Stay in the Moment
Instead of worrying about the future, or obsessing over something in the past, focus on what you can do today, what you can enjoy today, or what you can listen to today. Center yourself. Meditate. Do a hobby or a puzzle. Spend time with your family. Whatever it be, focus on that moment.
Tip #6: Learn something new
Take a class or join a seminar about something you are interested in learning (online or safely in person). Make a list of five things you would like to learn and begin looking into the ones you want to pursue.
Tip #7: Get in touch with someone
Reconnect with an old friend, call a relative, snuggle up with a loved one and watch a movie, compliment a colleague, joke with the bank teller waiting on you, make a date with your best friend, have a drink with someone special (even if you have to do it online). Pick someone and make the most of your time with them!
Tip #8: Have a goal or treat to look forward to
Set a goal and make it your mission to achieve it. Once you accomplish it, reward yourself. Or, simply treat yourself! Schedule your treat so you have something to look forward to. Build anticipation and, when the time comes, relish in it, guilt-free.
Tip #9: Be part of something bigger
Join a club, cause, campaign, organization, etc. Being part of an organization or support system works to promote a sense of community and purpose.
Tip #10: Explore your inner self
This is high-quality me-time in its purest form. You can do this on your own, or with a life coach or counselor. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few questions you can use until your momentum takes over.
- What was your favorite thing to do when you were a child? Can you do that now?
- If you could do anything you want—no holds barred, no money constraints, no time restrictions, etc.—what would you do today?
- What’s your favorite way to relax? Can you do it right now? What’s stopping you?
- What makes you happy?
- What are your gifts?
- What are your blessings?
- What are you grateful for?
- Will you set aside an hour, just for you?
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This post was originally posted on Recipe Idea Shop February 3, 2021.
Disclaimer: The author is not a health professional or nutritionist. She is offering her research and personal reflections about her health journey and is not providing any type of medical or nutritional advice. This post is for informational purposes only. It is offered as a tool for people to discover their own suspected food allergies, intolerances and sensitivities. Readers are highly encouraged to read, write, and reflect on the ideas presented. Consult your healthcare professional before initiating any dietary or exercise program.