Plenty of things can put us in a bad mood. But one culprit we tend to ignore: Bad mood food.
Poor nutrition contributes to our mood in lots of ways:
- Heavy foods can leave us feeling sluggish, like we need a nap
- Not enough food or low blood sugar can leave us “hangry” and irritable
In particular, this is because what we eat affects the neurotransmitters in our brain, which determine how we feel. Good foods, like those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can boost our mood. By the same token, ultra-processed fast foods can lead to depression, greater aggression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses. Blood sugar also affects our mood – high-sugar foods lead to a crash hours later, and those sugar lows can result in headaches and irritability.
10 Bad Mood Foods – & Alternative Replacements
1. Agave nectar
Though agave nectar was proposed as an alternative to high-fructose corn syrup, it’s just as bad for you. The high fructose content increases metabolic syndrome risk, meaning potential obesity, high blood pressure, and other things that’ll leave you feeling crappy. Instead, if you want to sweet something up, use honey.
Alcohol is a depressant, and while an occasional glass of red wine can be good for you, alcohol naturally reduces serotonin, the neurotransmitter that makes you feel good. So limit consumption, or as an alternative, try fermented cold drinks such as kombucha.
3. Added sugars and artificial sweeteners
Sugars, as you know, inevitably result hours later in a crash – which can include feelings of anxiety, irritability, and depression, as well as limit your body’s ability to fight stress. And artificial sweeteners are just as bad – side effects may include headaches, mood disorders, dizziness, and migraines. Instead, try natural sweeteners such as honey or fruits.
4. Margarine and other “butter-like” substances
Butter replacements are often ripe with fats that can increase inflammation. Those fats also compete with omega-3 fatty acids and other things you need. Instead, stick to grass-fed butter or, for cooking, consider ghee, as it cooks better at high heats.
While coffee includes antioxidants and cane prevent cognitive decline, more than a cup a day may enter the caffeine overdose zone. Caffeine impacts and alters hormones and neurotransmitter function, and can leave you feeling jittery. Additionally, a day without coffee can result in withdrawal headaches and worse. Instead, consider green tea (which has less caffeine and more health benefits) or even turmeric tea.
6. Cocktail mixers
In general, pre-made mixers are packed with sugar, and since you’re drinking alcohol at the same time, the sugar crash is compounded by the alcohol depressant. If you’re going to be drinking, do so in moderation, and choose healthier alcohol alternatives, such as red wine or dark beer.
7. Deli meats
Deli meats are frequently packed with fillers, preservatives, sugar, and salt – and may even include antibiotics and other chemicals. You can expect migraines, bloating, mood swings, and worse, if you’re not careful. Instead, read labels carefully or roast and carve your own meats.
8. Egg whites
Eggs are great for you, but when you stick with just the whites, you’re eliminating most of the best parts of the egg, as the yolk is far more nutritious. Instead, eat the whole egg – and make sure they’re good eggs!
9. Non-organic fruits and veggies
While fruits and vegetables are always good, with non-organic produce you get all the pesticides, too, as they likely remain in at least trace amounts. That can cause mental health issues and nutritional deficiencies, as well as other gross things, so when you can, buy organic and at farmers markets. If you have to pick and choose your battles, at least get organic for the foods on the dirty dozen list.
10. Salted nuts and seeds
While nuts and seeds are great for you, the pre-seasoned ones you see in the store are frequently coated in oils and additives, which can cause all sorts of mood swings and headaches. Instead, get raw nuts, and then roast and/or season them yourself at home.
Now you know how to avoid bad mood foods – which means fewer mood swings, headaches, and sugar lows in your future!
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