Mood Foods

Love those days when you wake up on top of the world only to turn around and want to strangle your coworker by noon? Our moods are labile - subject to change, often for reasons unknown, and mysteriously volatile at the most inopportune times! In his book The Abs Diet for Women, author David Zinczenko says that one of the tricks for battling out of a bad mood is by using food - nature's delicious medicine. Here are his mood boosting food tips as well as a few of our recipes featuring good mood foods.

Woman Eating Popcorn

Foods for when you are blue

When unshakable weepiness takes you over, Zinczenko recommends steering clear of the sugar jolt from your chocolate stash and, instead, opting for foods with a little more of a lasting effect. "Go for a low-fat, low-protein, high-carbohydrate snack: Think toasted whole-wheat English muffin with a dollop of blueberry all-fruit preserves (or better, fresh blueberries)," he suggests.

The reason is because when high-carb foods aren't bogged down by protein or fat, the amino acid tryptophan can flood your brain and morph into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and curbs food cravings.

Here are some blue mood foods:
Air-popped popcorn
Plain oatmeal with a little milk and honey
Bagel with banana slices and agave nectar

Foods for when you are depressed

More severe than being a little weepy, depression can be eased with omega-3s, found in fatty fish like salmon, herring and tuna. According to Zinczenko, if you are concerned about mercury, stick to omega-3-rich wild Pacific salmon, shrimp, summer flounder, farmed catfish, croaker, haddock, and mid-Atlantic blue crab.

Mood foods to dash depression:
Omega-3 rich recipes with tuna
Roasted salmon and other recipes high in healthy fats

Foods for when you're feeling dull

Zinczenko says, "Here's the perfect place for your cup of joe (minus the whipped cream and flavors that sound like they belong in a bakery)." Why?

Within a half-hour of drinking a cup of coffee, your nervous system gets revved and you feel alert and better able to concentrate. However, don't get into the habit of relying on a caffeine boost. Zinczenko recommends that you limit yourself to no more than three (5-ounce) cups of coffee a day.

For your coffee pleasure:
Tips for buying an espresso machine
Is your coffee triple certified?
Coffee recipes: Cooking sweet and savory dishes with coffee

Foods for when you're irritable

There is no denying that when you get tired, you also get crabby. Zinczenko chalks up daytime sleepiness with not getting enough quality sleep at night. Since a heavy evening meal can interfere with your sound slumber, he suggests keeping your dinner under 500 calories and incorporate more foods that contain the mineral copper (which can promote better rest if you aren't getting enough dietary copper). Examples of copper-rich foods are chicken, bananas and avocadoes.

Copper-rich recipes to help you sleep:
Stuffed chicken breasts
Banana pudding, banana bread and bananas foster

Year-round recipes for avocados

Foods for when you're beyond tired

Having one of those days when doing your normal daily activities is much too much? Probably nothing to worry about – get more sleep. However, Zinczenko warns that if this is an on-going feeling, see a doctor because you may have an iron deficiency or anemia.

Anemia is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world and it is particularly common among women of childbearing age. According to Zinczenko, an iron deficiency is caused from a lack of iron in the diet – or a lack of absorption of iron in the diet. "As good as beans, grains, and vegetables are for you, the form of iron they provide is weak and hard to absorb," he explains. Animal protein has more iron as well as more bioavailable form. Zinczenko recommends eating shrimp, lean beef, skin-free dark chicken or turkey meat, or fish.

More on iron:
Are you getting enough iron?
Grilled skirt steak with avocado corn salsa
Cheap chicken thigh recipes

The next time you feel your bright mood swinging low, consider a healthy nibble of good mood food.


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