I don’t know about you, but after all the hype and fun of Christmas and then the glorious feeling of two weeks of annual leave, by the time mid January hits it feels like you ran into a brick wall and fell face down into the mundane business of normal life.
One of my many goals for 2019 is to reduce the amount sugar I am consuming, and so my usual good mood food of chocolate is no longer my go-to. That is a good thing as all the fun sugary stuff is great at increasing serotonin and dopamine levels, which provides a positive lift, but it only lasts for a very short time and the crash back down can usually leave you feeling worse.
Fortunately there are some great foods that can be included in your daily diet that will help to improve your mood and they are good for you at the same time.
Thankfully chocolate is not off the list forever. A small amount of good quality dark chocolate can not only ease stress but boost your mood at the same time. Chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa is high in antioxidants and is loaded with tryptophan that triggers the release of endorphins. I don’t like dark chocolate anywhere near as much as I like milk chocolate, but this handy as just a couple of squares lets me feel like I have had a treat, but the whole block won’t have magically disappeared by the next day.
I can’t stomach sardines or tuna, but I don’t need an excuse to eat smoked salmon or a flash fried salmon steak. If you have never tried Huon Salmon, do yourself the biggest favour and try some soon. It is totally delicious and so good for you as its full of omega-3 fatty acid that helps the cell membranes of the brain and in turn boosts its ability to correctly send the right electrical messages and produce more serotonin. Eggs, linseeds and walnuts can help in the same way if you don’t like salmon.
A bowl of oats will help keep your blood sugar levels steady and will reduce the emotional roller coaster ride we often find ourselves on. Thanks to their soluble fibre they help to keep you feeling full well into the day and their amino acids will help create dopamine, vital for felling good.
When making burgers or meatloaf, use oats instead of breadcrumbs to help them hold together. You won’t even notice the difference but it will make them that little bit healthier.
Natural yoghurt, especially of the Greek variety is full of probiotics which can improve your gut health. There has been a lot of research done on healthy guts and how they can have a very positive affect on your happiness.
Make sure choice of yoghurt is not laden with added sugar as this strips away all the benefits of probiotics. If you find the taste a little tarte add some berries or banana slices to make it a little more palatable.
Speaking of bananas, those sunny coloured fruits that look like a smile will help put one on your face. Bananas help to increase your serotonin levels and will also deliver a good dose of potassium which can reduce blood pressure and decrease fluid retention.
They are the perfect on-the-go snack as they come in their own protective wrap and are great blended in a smoothie to add a rich and creamy taste.
LEAN RED MEAT
If you are craving a nice juicy steak…….then have one. You will add a big dose of B12 and folate to your body that are important part of serotonin production, but also very supportive to your nervous system.
Add a selection of steamed fresh greens and you have a low carb, high protein meal that will also provide an energy boost thanks to the iron content.
Feeling happy is an inside job and with these great food additions and less dependence on sugar is great way to help improve your long-term health.
What is your go to ‘happy’ food?
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