The key is to stabilize your blood sugars and level out your mood.
Eat every 4 to 5 hours. Eating consistently throughout the day gives your brain and body an even flow of fuel to do their jobs. This helps to prevent fluctuations in your blood sugar levels so that you can avoid the afternoon blahs.
Avoid Sugar Swings. Concentrated sources of sugar like soda, candy, fruit juice, jam and syrup can create big spikes and consequent dips in your blood sugar levels, leaving you cranky and tired. Even foods like white bread, crackers, bagels and rice can do the same thing because they are metabolized into sugar very quickly.
Choose to eat high-quality carbohydrates like veggies, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, brown and wild rice, and oatmeal instead. You'll feel full for longer and you won't experience the sugar (and thus mood) swings.
Add Soluble Fibre. Foods rich in soluble fibre slow down the absorption of sugar into your blood stream and thus reduce your sugar swings. Foods like oats, brown rice, barley, apples, pears, strawberries, oranges, sweet potatoes (I love sweet potatoes!), carrots, peas, and beans are great choices.
Eat Protein With Every Meal And Snack. Adding protein to your meals will slow the absorption of carbs into the blood. This will help leave you feeling upbeat and productive for hours after eating (Amen to that!). Smart protein choices include poultry, seafood and fish, veal, pork tenderloin, tofu, eggs and low-fat yogurt.
Foods That Make You Feel Better
There are three kinds of nutrients that help improve your mood.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in your brain at higher levels than any other part of the body, so it makes sense to give your brain more of what it needs to function properly. Don't starve your brain! Research has found that omega-3 fats are important in mood lifting and alleviating depression.
Foods rich in omega-3 fats include oily fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, ground flaxseeds, canola oil, walnuts and omega-3 fortified eggs.
Folic acid and B12
These two B vitamins are important for mood. Studies have shown that low blood levels of these vitamins are sometimes related to depression. This may be because these vitamins are used by the body to create seratonin, which is one of the key neurotransmitters in the brain that normalize mood.
Foods rich in folate include fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, black-eyed peas, soybeans, oatmeal, mustard greens, beets, broccoli, sunflower seeds, wheat germ and oranges.
Foods rich in vitamin B12 include shellfish like clams, oysters, and crab, wild salmon, fortified whole-grain breakfast cereal, lean beef, cottage cheese, lowfat yogurt, milk and eggs.
Vitamin D is important for relieving mood disorders because it increases serotonin, the mood stabilizing neurotransmitter. Vitamin D is also important for helping reduce the effects of seasonal affective disorder, better known as the winter blues.
Foods rich in vitamin D: fish with bones, fat free and lowfat milk, fortified soy milk, and egg yolks. Milk also contains the amino acid tryptophan which is important for producing serotonin, and calcium which is known to calm nerves when feedling stressed or anxious.
(Your skin also makes vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so a brisk walk outside can also help your mood. )
Drink Lots of Water. Dying in the desert is a sucky feeling. Don't put your body throught that. Drink lots of water throughout the day so that your body can do it's job properly.
Food To Eat More Of
To sum it up, when you're stressed and depressed, eat more vegetables, fruit, and oil-rich fish. Also drink lots of water! Eight-eight percent of the people who tried this reported fewer mood swings, fewer panic attacks and anxiety, or less depression. These are pretty good statistics for such easy things to eat more of. Nuts, like brazil nuts, are also good for your mood.
Foods To Avoid
Some foods are notorious for stressing you out. These include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and chocolate. Try to keep these to a minimum.
Coffee. One cup of coffee can pick you up in the morning, but more and your mood is at risk.
Chocolate. If you're going to have chocolate, choose dark. You'll get the polyphenols which improve cognitive function, but less sugar which is ideal.
Alcohol. Alcohol is bad for your mood because it is a depressant. It shoots excess sugar into your blood stream to give you an initial high, but then your blood sugar drops dramatically creating feelings of anxiety, hopelessness or sadness.
In small quantities, alcohol can have calming, sedative effects. One glass of red wine with dinner, for example, can be soothing after a hard day at work. The problem with using alcohol to help you sleep is that you'll wake up rapidly once the alcohol converts to sugar in the body. This sleep disruption can contribute to feeling tired, anxious, and depressed.
Other Things To Fix Your Mood? Exercise. Go for that walk that you so desperately need and get some fresh air and sunlight. You'll feel much better afterwards. Working out in the gym is great too because your body will create more feel-good chemicals in your brain so you'll be more alert and happy.