Health experts say food can be mood-changer

By: Jenny You Email
By: Jenny You Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – You are what you eat. From beating the blues to defeating the grumpies, food can have direct impact on your state of mind.

That’s what people at Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospitals’ Metabolic Syndrome Series on Food & Mood discussion learned about.

“We get in the habit of going to our fix foods, our craving foods. It sort of starts to create these deep neuro-pathways that make us more addicted to that dopamine reaction. So the more we eat it the more we crave it,” said Kim Landry-Ayres, nutritionist and trainer with Mission Accomplished, Kim Landry-Ayres.

She said sugar is the culprit.

“Cake, ice cream, I pick on Ben and Jerry’s all the time,” said Landry.

But it’s true. Eating that piece of chocolate cake or that bucket of ice cream will make you happy, temporarily.

“In particular, the high sugar foods affect the chemicals in the brain that kind of make us happy, excited, and mentally alert. Over time when we constantly go for that fix and giving into it, the fatty sugary foods, it affects the rest of the organs in the body that kind of makes us feel drained and sluggish and not motivated to go exercise,” said Landry.

That means simple changes in your diet can help.

Some good mood foods include fatty fish like salmon and sardines that contain Omega-3 fats and Vitamin D or get energy from green tea and antioxidants like berries.

But if you’re looking at solely food to boost your mood, you may want to try another option.

“Exercise, laughter, taking a nap, getting a good night’s sleep, listening to soothing music, having the opportunity to laugh should trigger the chemical in the brain so they don’t go on an awful binge,” she said.

Robin Shih who was at the discussion said she is inspired to exercise more.

"Just to be more active in anyway rather than looking to sugar and caffeine and alcohol as a mood booster or as a way to reduce stress," said Shih.

Rhonda Seibel said she realizes reading labels is important because of additives in food.

"I'm going to try to get more sleep. I had a doctor tell me the other day I need more sleep and try to stick to more of a diet Less sugar they said," added Seibel.

And although broccoli doesn’t look as fun as Ben and Jerry’s, in the long run vegetables will do much more for a person’s body and brain in the long-run, she said.

Landry also said moderation is key, so you can have some of that dark chocolate which helps with mental alertness but also pair it with strawberries which is full of nutrients and fiber.

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