You don’t need to be a food scientist to know the relationship between food and our feelings. If you’re in doubt, recall how you consoled yourself after your last bad day or breakup. Amirite?
And I know you’re with me, especially after the great response and positive feedback I got from the post Snacking My Way to a Better Mood. I decided to post more of nutritionist Michelle Vodrazka’s tips. She’s an Ottawa-based nutrition coach, sports nutritionist, yoga instructor and personal trainer, and spoke at the “Food & Mood: The Gut-Brain Connection” session at the canfitpro world fitness expo in Toronto. She’s already told us that not only should we use food to console us with those feelings of indulging in ourselves, but to eat healthy foods to set us up in a good mood.
Here Vodrazka offers good mood foods to fix some not-so-good situations.
The Sitch – Foggy Brain, also known as the 3 p.m. blahs
There are days when I just can’t focus. I’ll stare at a blank computer screen, thinking about everything except for the article I’m supposed to be writing. I just guilt myself into thinking I’m lazy that day, but after what Vodrazka tells me, I’m seeing these foggy days in a new light. Rather than call me out on my lack of motivation, she says it could be food additives and dyes (“[These] can cause hyperactivity in children and inability to focus.”), too much sugar or processed carbs, lack of protein (“Which contain the building blocks for dopamine which you need for good focus and attention.”) and reacting to food intolerances or allergies. She says that gluten can be the cause of brain fog for some.
Food Fix: Instead of reaching for pasta (thinking it would provide me with energy after lunch), Vodrazka says to have berries and/or broccoli. Berries, including strawberries, as you know, are packed with antioxidants, which are important for a functioning brain. As for the green stuff: broccoli contains the B vitamin folate, magnesium and vitamin C to help me focus. It makes sense, as I won’t be dealing with the energy rollercoaster that I would normally get with my penne lunch.
The Sitch – Irritable, annoyed, and what else do you want from me?!
Sometimes I get cramps. Sometimes I get cravings. Sometimes I’m tired. But I always get irritable. Since I’ve discovered Pink Pad, I’m now much more aware of when to expect that last PMS symptom, and I no longer feel like I’m surrounded by incompetent people. It’s me. I know because when I feel on edge, I notice that in a day or two I’ve got two pink dots on my calendar. Also, Vodrazka calls me out on not eating enough magnesium and fibre, and too much sodium as for what’s making me cranky.
Food Fix: Instead of feeling testy (and caving into those PMS cravings for sugar and salt), she suggests I eat some calcium-, fibre-, magnesium-rich foods that are low in sodium like yogurt and almonds. These will help to stabilize my blood sugar levels, help relax muscles (ahem, relieve abdominal cramps), reduce water retention and balance hormones. And that will help with being cranky.
The Sitch – No energy or just not feeling like myself
I don’t drink coffee on the reg. I find it makes me jittery and hyper (which I imagine annoys me as it would those around me). So I try to stay away from the stuff. But if I do have a Starbucks in my hand, you’ll know that I’ve had an episode of insomnia or a night of restlessness (up all night worrying about something I couldn’t care less about the next day). But Vodrazka says to fix the problem, not the symptom.
Food Fix: Eggs are a power food. They’re high in zinc (boosts immune health), rich in B vitamins (we need those for energy metabolism) and iron (low in this nutrient and you’ll just feel rundown). And, drink water! You might think it counterintuitive to get energy from a zero-calorie drink, but she says I (meaning “we”) need to drink a minimum of two to three litres of water a day. It “helps with proper detoxification, elimination, nutrient delivery to cells.