The Mood Food Connection

In cold Maine weather it can be hard to keep a positive outlook. In addition to getting your vitamin D, it’s important to look at the role food plays in keeping you feeling happy and healthy. Read on for lots of helpful tips and strategies!

Why food is important to mood-
There’s a connection between digestive diseases like heartburn, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic constipation and our mood. These diseases can prevent us from absorbing the nutritional building blocks the body uses to regulate mood.
● Carbohydrates are needed for immediate energy and serotonin production
● Fats are needed for healthy gut, brain function, and hormones.
● Proteins are needed to make all of our neurotransmitters

How to keep the brain happy-
The brain likes steady stream of energy in the form of glucose or blood sugar. It doesn’t appreciate ups and downs. Here are a few tips to keep it well-fed and less stressed.
● With energy crash the body panics and makes adrenaline, which worsens anxiety.
● If you eat carbs alone, energy won’t last.
● Fats and proteins digest slower and provide lasting energy.

When to eat-
Stress is a major cause of digestive problems. Therefore, always include stress management when treating the gut.
● Relax while eating – stress turns off digestive mechanisms
● Three meals per day, some may need snacks.

What to eat liberally-
Buy the best quality food you can afford, eat a whole (as opposed to processed) foods diet, as local and organic as possible. This well-balanced diet makes it easier to maintain a healthy weight.
● Proteins- meat, dairy, eggs, nuts, seeds (not too many nuts.)
● Fats- meat, dairy, eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil.
● Carbs- whole grains, beans, fruits and veggies

What to eat in moderation or avoid-
Let’s not make it harder for the body to fight stress and feel good. Avoid these common culprits that worsen mood.
● Caffeine- makes anxiety worse
● Sugar/highly processed foods- digest fast, absorbed fast, then cause sugar crash. Highly processed foods have less nutrients and deplete metabolism.
● Alcohol- acts as depressant, ok for some in moderation, but disturbs sleep and worsens mood problems.

How to eat-
Here are a few things we know makes eating more pleasurable and nourishing.
● Create meal rituals- set the table, gather family or friends if possible, slow down and enjoy the experience of the meal
● “A+” for presentation- make food look appetizing on the plate
● Drinking with meals – no ice, not a lot of fluids at meal because can dilute stomach acid
● Eat with the season – get local ingredients fresh with most nutritional value

For more information on how your digestion may be influenced by your meals, contact Dr. Kotzur directly, or follow her on Facebook

About the Author

Dr. Sarah Kotzur, ND

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