It’s quite easy for busy healthcare professionals (especially those working overnight shifts) to grab something quick and convenient, and not so healthy. However, some of these quick bites can not only make you a little cranky, they can leave you feeling downright depressed.
Here’s a look at some bad mood foods and the simple swaps you can make to lift your spirits and your health.
Your morning bagel (or any other white grain). Carbohydrates fuel the production of serotonin, your brain's main feel-good neurotransmitter, which activates receptors that help control your mood and appetite. Of course, not all carbs are created equal. Unhealthy white grains like bagels, white pasta and white bread can cause a quick spike and then dip in blood sugar. The result? You’ll feel lethargic and cranky 30 to 45 minutes after loading up on refined carbs.
Feel-good swap. Replace refined grains with whole-grains like whole-grain cereal, rice and oatmeal. Whole grains are digested more slowly than refined grains, which will help keep your blood sugar—and mood—stable.
Your daily soda(s). Soda consumption has decreased over the past decade, but Americans still love their bubbly drinks—it’s estimated that the average American drinks around 44 gallons of soda a year! Sodas are not only filled with empty calories, but they are loaded with sugar. Some research has found that the ingredients in soda can confuse the appetite-regulating hormones in the digestive tract. After the initial sugar rush of guzzling a soda, your mood may plummet and your appetite may skyrocket.
Feel-good swap: If carbonation is what you crave, try seltzer water with a slice of lemon or splash of 100% fruit juice.
Your French fry or fried food habit. No doubt about it, fried foods taste good. Ok, they usally taste great. But with a frightening amount of bad fats, high sodium and refined carbs, fried foods can wreak havoc on your mind and body. You can probably recall the feeling you get after inhaling a fast food value meal—bloated, tired and almost sick.
Feel-good swap: Fat isn’t your enemy—the key is eating the right type of fat. Healthy fats that contain omega-3s are known to support brain-cell function and positive moods. Walnuts and fish, especially salmon and sardines, are prime sources. Low-fat milk that's fortified with DHA is also a good choice for healthy fats.
“Junk food drags you down.”