“What food is going to make me happy? I need to feel satisfied.”
I’ve probably asked myself what I want to eat more times than there are ants on the entire planet.
Up until one or two years ago, my immediate response was a flash flood of images made up of fast food restaurants and frozen meals I could make at the press of a button.
I wasn’t thinking about my body as a whole when I felt hungry, I just knew I wanted food.
Did you know that the brain and stomach are intimately connected to each other?
That’s right — the foods we eat directly affect our mood, among other benefits and consequences.
In this article, I’m going to discuss some the benefits of clean eating and all the foods you should eat to enhance your mind, body, and life. A small change in eating habits could produce a huge change in lifestyle habits with a small amount of patience.
Oh, and don’t worry if you follow a specific diet. Whether you’re a vegan, carnivore, or whatever else is in between — there’s something for you on this list.
Why It’s Important To Eat Foods That Make You Happy
As an American, it’s no secret to me that I live in a culture of advertising over education. As a result, anyone you ask knows about major fast food chains — and probably eats there rather often.
When I was younger, we were given nutritional resources such as the food pyramid. At some point in my education, those guidelines and materials slipped away from under me. Not just me, but all of my peers as well.
It’s not that those resources aren’t there anymore. They just aren’t widespread knowledge that gets passed around every classroom in America anymore.
You have to remember — food is so much more than a tool we use to feel full. It powers every system in our body and creates the backbone to every action we perform.
Become A “B” Student
Ever heard of vitamin B? What about folic acid or folate?
Did you know there are NINE different kinds of vitamin B?
Called variants, vitamin B comes in the form of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate, and various forms of cobalamins.
B vitamins appear to aid in preventative action against disorders of the central nervous system, mood disorders, and even dementia.
Yes, you can actually help prevent dementia with the correct food choices.
Think about that next time you’re face-first in a bowl of chili that’s littered with kidney beans.
There is a link between higher intakes of folate and a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms across cultures, too.WebMD
Vitamin D & Omega-3
Beyond your B vitamins, it’s important to get enough Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids.
However, that doesn’t mean you can sit outside in the sun while you’re chomping down on a juicy burger. Omega-3 fatty acids aren’t the same as regular fats.
Researchers have seen positive effects on clinically defined mood swings and the use of Omega-3 fatty acids alongside them.
Aside from leveling out mood swings, omega-3 fatty acids also have a tendency to lower the risk of depressive symptoms.
Speaking of depression, have you ever had difficulties making your way outside when you’re depressed? Sometimes it’s a challenge just to get out of bed.
Luckily you don’t have to get out of bed, because you can literally eat the sun.
Okay, maybe not literally. You can, however, take in vitamin D through the foods you eat.
Researcher Pamela K. Murphy, PhD, at the Medical University of South Carolina says people can help manage their moods by getting at least 1,000 to 2,000 [units] of vitamin D per day.WebMD
While it’s important to continue going outside and soaking up some sun rays from time to time, you can still feel accomplished if you’re eating some “feel good” foods.
Antioxidants And Inflammation
Antioxidants seem so counter-intuitive. As a species that relies entirely on oxygen, why would we want an antioxidant inside of us?
Funny enough, antioxidants are substances that protect every cell in your body from free radical damage. Free radical is just a scientific term that means “empty molecule”. It’s wasted space in your system, causing errors in the way your cells’ events are executed.
Free radicals can be created in numerous ways, like smoking or being exposed to chemicals and radiation. When you consume foods rich in antioxidants, it’s like employing your own army to go clean up a decimated wasteland.
Did you know that free radicals are linked to increased inflammation?
Did you also know that increased inflammation has been linked to an increased risk for mental health disorders?
Inflammatory processes induce changes in brain/body functioning that can contribute to the development of a wide range of psychiatric conditions. Inflammation is an equal opportunity risk factor, with specific disease pathogenesis depending on factors such as when in the life cycle the inflammatory event(s) occur and/or genetic predisposition of individuals.
You know now that vitamin B affects our nervous system, directly correlating with our mood and “system status”. From digestive tract to brain, it’s all linked.
We’ve also covered vitamin D, Omega 3’s, and the importance of antioxidants. Regardless of all the knowledge you’ve just processed, one burning question still remains:
I Want To Feel Happy — What Do I Eat?
If you want a comprehensive guide to eating nutritionally balanced meals that will benefit your mood and your life, check out Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health and The Good Mood Kitchen.
It’s a two-book set that will tell you everything you need to know about kitchen etiquette and its effect on your mood.
Finally, let your eyes rest and your brain relax. There are no more lengthy paragraphs, just foods for thought.
Each of these foods contains something good from the aforementioned list of beneficial food properties.
As you can see, there are plenty of varieties of food to boost your mood and elevate your life. Changing our lives starts with changing our habits, and food is an important one. Next time you want to make a change in your life, start by grabbing a handful of blueberries. Let’s be honest — you’ll be way happier in the long run.