The Recurring Relationship: Your Food and Your Mood

Have you ever had something happen and your reaction is to reach for something to eat? Sluggish? Sad? Cranky? Depressed? Bored? Fatigued?
Did you raid the pantry? Or visit the vending machine? Or the local coffee shop? Did you reach for a candy bar, an energy drink, crackers, some fruit, or a bag of chips? Known as emotional eating, these are moods that can affect your food choices.

Your brain and your stomach are in constant communication; but that shouldn’t come as any surprise. Your brain regulates everything going on in your body all the time. Your brain needs energy to keep everything going, which means your brain keeps talking to your stomach. What, when, and how often you eat can both chemically and physiologically alter your brain and can profoundly alter both your emotional and physical well-being, in the short- and long-term.

Whenever there is an imbalance in your body, your brain will send signals to your stomach to correct the imbalance with cravings for the nutrients in certain foods.

Sometimes, however, your body is searching for short-term solutions that is associated with emotional eating. As your emotional relationship with food can be a very complex one, certain meals or foods, through sight, smell, and taste, can evoke certain memories, which in turn influence your emotional response. This can be related to many mood disorders like depression as well as more serious health concerns, such as diabetes and thyroid imbalances. The relationship among mood disorders, brain function, and particularly diets filled with processed foods have long been studied by physicians, nutritionists, and weight management specialists.
If your moods can influence your food choices, then the opposite is also possible. Your food choices can affect your mood. Yes, that afternoon break for coffee alleviated your sluggishness. You also knew that you would need a nap after eating that Thanksgiving turkey.
Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. - Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine
Taking care of your mood with food can be as simple as consciously introducing some basic nutrition approaches into your lifestyle, which can have positive, long-term impact on your overall health.
  1. Identify foods that make you feel worse such as those with artificial food ingredients. Slowly eliminate those foods from your diet and replace them with healthier choices.
  2. Examine your daily eating schedule. Make adjustments so that you get the right foods exactly when your body needs them. This may be a simple as adding a healthy mid-morning snack because your work schedule requires you to take a later lunch; or ensuring that you eat a light breakfast before you leave in the morning. 
  3. Incorporate balanced food choices that maximize positive moods according to your specific nutritional requirements. Mood boosters include proteins, vitamins, and fiber. Think dark chocolate, coffee, bananas, eggs, leafy greens. 

These changes will help your body, and specifically your stomach, produce more serotonin, which your brain will use to mediate mood and regulate your sleep and appetite.

Improving your mood by making smart food choices is one of the best decisions to make for your health and well-being.

Contact your local Metabolic Medical Center to implement the best weight management program for your emotional needs.

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