Have you ever wondered why you crave for sweets and chocolates when you’re feeling bogged and beaten? Why not for a hard-boiled egg? Why do you avoid a heavy lunch to stay awake for that post lunch meeting? Does this mean that certain foods can calm you down or pep you up to boost your mood?
Some people live to eat, so they say. I guess this is true for almost all of us. Don’t you think we all have personal connections with food? You start feeling quite cheerful the moment you think about that sumptuous ‘Barfi’ your Mom made. Or remember how happy you were when you went to your favourite haunt: the ice-cream parlour with your Dad on Sunday afternoon? In-fact eating special foods may conjure up positive feelings and comforting memories so believe the researchers!
According to scientists certain foods possess the power of altering our brain chemistry. Carbohydrates have a soothing affect on you while proteins can perk you up. Want to know how foods can change your moods? Well, keep reading…
Which is this chemical that can keep you relaxed and calm? Well, it’s Serotonin. However, this chemical can also make you sleepy and drowsy. The Serotonin levels do not remain static through out the day and keep fluctuating being at lower ebb in the afternoons and the evenings. Its levels are also lower during the last week of a woman’s menstrual cycle. People complain of SAD (seasonal affective disorder) in winters because of reduced levels of this chemical only. The same goes for ex-smokers and drinkers.
Carbohydrates for a happy mood: Carbohydrates, particularly those that stimulate insulin, increase Serotonin by starting a chemical chain reaction that puts more Tryptophan in the brain. Sweet and starchy foods do that very well. Just think about how relaxed, even sleepy, you feel after freaking out on a chocolate pastry. When you are stressed out you automatically reach out for cookies, chocolates and sweets, don’t you? You do this in a bid to feel better.
But you must be wondering, why don’t all the carbohydrate foods make me feel good? An apple is also sweet but it does not help to evaporate a bad day from your memory like a packet of chips does. Well, there’s an explanation for this. Fruits contain fructose that doesn’t trigger Serotonin boost. The same goes for vegetables also. Though they contain carbohydrates, the carbohydrates are not concentrated enough to put you in a jovial mood.
But aren’t sweets and starches “bad” for you? Scientists contend that reasonable, small amounts can be worked into your diet, while helping you to manage your mood.
Proteins for perking up: Can eating protein perk you up? The answer is a big ‘Yes’. Protein foods provide another amino acid called Tyrosine that allows the manufacture of Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Well, what do these two chemicals do? They sharpen up your reflex action and increase your mental alertness. So want to avoid nodding off during a technical lecture at 2 p.m.? Well, have Chicken for lunch instead of digging your teeth into that ‘Black Forest’ Pastry.
Mood Up Lifters!!!
Get in touch with your mood and make food choices accordingly. There are foods that can calm you, pep you up or can simply brighten up your day. Want a list? Well, read on…
Snacks to Calm You : Select low-protein, low-fat carbohydrate snacks such as crackers with jam, pastries and baked potatoes with tomato sauce.
Foods to Keep You Mentally Alert
Well, besides coffee, select high-protein meals with few starches. These could include cottage cheese, chicken, meat, hard-boiled egg or low fat meat at lunchtime.
Fun Foods to Lift Your Mood
You can freak out on hot chocolates, ice creams and sweet drinks on a really bad day. But take care. Just don’t overdo it. Eat small amounts and appreciate whatever you eat!