While every day, we are faced with situations that can trigger an instant bad mood, such as being late to work or a long line at the local coffee shop, what many people do not know, is that a bad diet can actually contribute to a poor mood too.
But How Exactly Does a Bad Diet Cause A Bad Mood?
Consider this, after a large meal, let's say Thanksgiving dinner for instance, how to do you feel? Are you wide awake and ready to take on the day, or are you ready to lay on the couch and sleep it off? Or consider how you feel after a long day at work, when you barely had two minutes to take a chance to grab a quick snack.
The hunger pangs are hitting you like a ton of bricks and you are snappy and impatient. What we consume has a huge effect on how we react, how we feel, and how our bodies handle situations. A good diet could be the trick to a good mood overall.
Did you know that the foods we eat actually effects the neurotransmitters that our brains produce? These neurotransmitters are chemicals in our brains that control who we are feeling. For example, many might know that dopamine makes us more easily focused, whereas serotonin helps us relax and unwind.
The foods we consume actually act as a foundation for these neurotransmitters. Our brains take the nutrients found in these foods and creates the neurotransmitters based on what we have consumed, which ultimately lead to our moods and how they change.
However, a poor diet can actually have harmful effects on the neurotransmitters, therefore causing mood swings. A poor diet consistently, can lead to bad days that seem to never end. Fast foods that are overly processed can cause anxiety, depression, aggression and many other mental illnesses, whereas goods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, for example salmon and avocado, can actually put us in a naturally good mood.
Another thing that contributes to our moods in our blood sugar levels. Foods and drinks that are high in sugar, such as soda, energy drinks, and candy, while they may make you feel better for a short period of time, that sugar high as many know it as, wears off quickly, causing our blood sugar levels to crash, which can lead to irritability and headaches.
Top Ten Foods to Avoid and Their Healthier Alternatives
We all know that fast food, processed foods, and sugary foods and drinks are bad for us, but what many do not know, is some foods that we thought were okay for us, are actually adding to our bad moods.
Now we are explore the top ten bad mood foods and find their healthier alternatives. If you feel a little blue, and these foods are part of your regular diet, maybe it is time to give them up and see if that small change is enough to solve your moodiness once and for all!
1.) Alcoholic Beverages
For many, alcohol is a large part of our everyday lives. Some people drink a cold beer after a long day at work as a way to relax, others go out every weekend with the guys just to get away for a while.
However, if you have found yourself in a slump, maybe it's time to take a look at your drinking habits. Now, we all know that red wine is actually pretty good for us, as it actually as a few health benefits, what a lot of people don't realize, is drinking too often can definitely affect your mood.
When you are out drinking, you may feel like you are in a great mood, your brain however, feels differently. Alcohol actually releases hormones in your brain that make you feel anxiety and stressed.
You know that alcohol is a depressant, therefore it also leads to the release of serotonin, which is the hormone that is commonly known as the “feel good” hormone. With this affecting the nervous system, it is no surprise that it tends to put a person in a bad mood.
But what would be a healthier alternative? Why not limit yourself to only a glass or two of red wine a week, or even better yet, cut alcohol out completely.
You can choose a fermented cold drink that it full of probiotics instead! Kombucha and kvass are both great options if you are aiming to cut alcohol out completely.
2.) Cocktail Mixers
Now, while making your own drinks in the comfort of your own home may be a lot cheaper and seem better for you, especially since you know exactly what is going into your drink, when you use the pre-made cocktail mixers, such as those made for margaritas or strawberry dacaris, you may be doing more harm to yourself than good.
What you may not realize is those mixers that say all you need to do is add alcohol and ice, are loaded with sugars. So are the fruit juices and sodas that you use to mix with your whiskey or rum.
Similar to the rush you feel from caffeinated drinks and sodas in general, which will make you feel energized and more alert temporarily, you will crash just as hard, if not harder thanks to the added alcohol. And when you do come down from the sugar high, you'll feel tired, crabby and just generally down.
What's even scarier, is since you're adding alcohol, many people will just pour another drink to get another boost of the feel good feelings.
Since drinking is enjoyable in moderation, why not aim for a healthier option, such as red wine, or even sparkling wine? Why not try out a dark beer if you are a beer fan, or go for vodka with soda water and some lime juice.
All of those contain far less sugar and in turn, you will avoid the dreaded sugar crash!
3.) Salted Seeds and Nuts
While nuts and seeds are a fan favorite, especially since not only are they vegetarian, but they are also full of good vitamins and nutrients, such as omega-3s and iron, especially if you're not a fish fan, the ones you buy in the store that are salted and roasted, probably aren't your best choice.
The nuts that you buy at the store that are soaked in oils and come with a load of salt are not only unhealthy, but they are also full of genetically modified organisms as ingredients.
They are also loaded with additives and preservatives, all of which should be avoided in general. With all the added sodium from all that salt, aside from being bad for your health, they can also lead to your moodiness and headaches as well.
For a healthier option, try buying your seeds and nuts in their natural, raw form. You can then take them home and season them, roast them, cook them however you'd like, then add them to your favorite trail mix or grab a handful for a quick snack.
By roasting, baking, or otherwise cooking them at home, you are leaving all the bad stuff out, making them a great pick me up food!
4.) Coffee and Other Caffeinated Drinks
Now, this one is tricky. Coffee in itself is actually good for us in moderation. Not only does it make us feel better when we wake up in the morning and give us a boost of caffeine, it is also a great source of antioxidants and helps to prevent cognitive decline. However, most of us drink way more coffee than we should be.
Do you find yourself drinking a full pot (or two… or three) by yourself each day, then notice that you are still in a crabby mood? Or are you like some people and down a few cups of coffee then turn to energy drinks for your mid day boost? Odds are, you are actually overdosing on caffeine, or coming very close to it. This is actually a very dangerous practice.
Caffeine has an effect on the functions of the neurotransmitters, how our nerves send our signals, and impact our hormones. These three things combined are a perfect combination for a bad mood. Not only that, but caffeine raises your heart rate and can cause your anxiety and jitters.
The worst part, is because caffeine is actually considered a drug, even one day without your coffee can actually lead to withdrawal symptoms, including sluggishness, headaches, depression and excessive tiredness.
Green tear is an excellent alternative to your morning coffee. Many teas work as amazing substitutes that not only make you feel better, but also have countless health benefits depending on which type of tea you choose. And you can even drink it iced when it's warm out! Much like you would your favorite iced coffee drink!
5.) Margarine and Any Other Butter Substitutes
When you walk into any supermarket, odds are you find yourself face to face with an endless supply of different margarine's and butter substitutes. This is largely because people have told us that butter is bad for so many years. Did you know that in order to protect your health and make you feel better, it's best to avoid any and all butter-like items altogether.
These butter substitutes are normally made with fats, and that is not good for you! These fats can lead to inflammation and contain insanely high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. This work against the omega-3 fatty acids that we need as they are natural mood boosters.
That's why your mood tanks and your insulin levels spike when you consume them. Sometimes substitutes are not such a great idea after all! For a mood boosting alternative, choose an all natural, naturally fed butter. However, if you use these substitutes for cooking, why not try ghee? Ghee is a great alternative!
6.) Artificial Sweeteners and Added Sugars
Just because it's sweet to the taste, doesn't mean it is any good for you! Sugars and artificial sweeteners are not only addictive, they are also huge mood killers. While you will get the sugar high, you'll also get the awful crash that follows. This causes depression, anger, frustration and anxiety. Sugars also make it harder for a person to handle stress, which in turn, makes it almost impossible to relax.
Keep in mind, that we're talking about added sugars, not naturally occurring sugars. However, be aware that even foods that are marketed as healthy, such a yogurt and granola, all contain added sugars as well. And artificial sweeteners are no better.
And they can be found just about everywhere. Chewing gum, toothpaste, everywhere! And you are probably already aware of the side effects, such as dizziness, mood swings, migraines and more!
There are plenty of natural sweeteners out there for you to try out. Stevia, coconut sugar, raw honey and blackstrap molasses are just a few examples you could try. You can experiment and change it up until you find a combination that fits your preferences. But in the end, these natural sweeteners are way better for you, both on a physical and mental level.
7.) Egg Whites
While it used to be believed that egg whites were the healthiest part of the egg, in reality, by taking out the yolk, you are actually taking out the part of the eff that can help put you in a good mood.
Eggs are a natural, healthy food overall, but all of those nutrients can be found in the yolk, not the whites. The yolk contains B vitamins, choline and protein, all of which help put you in a great mood, without all the additives, preservatives and sugar found in other foods.
However, of all the items on our list, this is the easiest to find a healthy alternative for. Eat the whole egg instead of just the whites! Just make sure your eggs are from happy chickens who are free-range – they produce better eggs!
8.) Deli Meats
I bet you didn’t think that deli meats were all that bad for your mood, huh? Naturally, you would want to avoid processed meats, such as bologna and hot dogs, but turkey, ham, and chicken? If you are buying prepackaged deli meats, read the label. Most prepackaged deli meats are full of preservatives, sugar, salt and fillers.
This leads to mood swings, migraines, bloating and more! Yikes! That is a recipe for a bad mood right there! Not to mention, unless you are buying organic meat, odds are you're getting antibiotics in your deli meat as well.
The best alternative here would be to buy your own meats raw, such as a chicken, turkey or ham, and cook it yourself. That way you are avoiding all the fillers and other harmful additives. Believe it or not, you'll be in a better mood because of it, not to mention it's cheaper that way too! Talk about mood booster!
9.) Agave Nectar
With high-fructose corn syrup being sworn as one of the worst things in the world (Do not get me wrong, it is bad for you), agave nectar has become a popular alternative. Not only is it sweet, it comes from a plant and is low on the glycemic scale. That being said, it is far from good for you, despite how “good” it sounds.
When the agave nectar is overly processed in order to make it to the stores, it's nutritional value tanks horribly. Its main component is fructose, which is the most dangerous sugar out there, since it isn't metabolized by the blood, instead it's metabolized by the liver. Agave nectar is actually more harmful for you that high-fructose corn syrup, isn't that something?
This effects your mood because with such a high amount of fructose, you are at risk of metabolic syndrome, which includes obesity, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure. Talk about major downer.
If you want a healthier way to sweeten your favorite foods, as we've mentioned before, raw honey is an awesome choice. Not only will it add some sweetness to your favorite foods, but it is good for you too!
10.) Non-Organic Vegetables and Fruits
Now, in today's world, a lot of us do not think twice about where our fruits or vegetables come from. But maybe we should. While it is always good to eat more fruits and vegetables, if you are not eating organically grown vegetables and fruits, you are probably being exposed to a healthy dose of neurotoxins in the process.
Not only that, but considering many commercial farmers spray their crops with pesticides, it's a safe bet that you are getting a bit of that with your fruits and vegetables too. The scary part is research has shown that these chemicals are responsible for having a negative impact on our mental health. And that is not all, they can also cause nutritional deficiencies. Yikes.
Not only that, but genetically modified vegetables and fruits, think about the out of season produce you're buying for example, can also contain bacteria that can upset your stomach's natural, good bacteria. Due to the strong connection between the gut and the brain, this should not come as a surprise that if your gut isn't working properly, your mood is going to suffer.
A great alternative is to buy organic whenever the opportunity arises. Not only that, but you can visit your local farmers market, where you will not only be supporting local farmers, but you will also be ensuring that you are getting fresh, in season produce.
The foods you eat have a huge impact on your mood. Certain foods have been found to affect the chemicals, hormones and balance in your brain and blood sugar levels. This affects our moods, either for the worst or for the better, depending on what foods you are consuming. For many people, your frequent headaches, mood swings and sugar crashes can all be caused by what you choose to eat.
A bad diet can definitely put you in a bad mood. By avoiding alcohol, added sugars, and overly processed foods, you can definitely not only improve your overall health, but your mental health as well! Think back to what you ate for breakfast. How did you feel afterwards? Use that as a starting point if you are trying to get out of your rut and believe your diet is to blame.
Keep a food diary. Who knows, maybe you'll not only cure your rut, but create a healthier, happier diet that benefits you all the way around! Do not be afraid to try new foods either – you never know, that healthy alternative might turn into your new favorite food!