Feeling a little blue? The solution could be in your fridge. A growing field called nutritional psychiatry suggests that what we eat everyday can greatly impact our brain function. Unfortunately, so-called comfort foods (Hello, ice cream!) aren’t the answer to our feelings of woe.
Marlynn Wei, a New York-based psychiatrist and therapist, explains that our brains process what we eat into fuel. So if our diet lacks the nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants it needs to run effectively, we’re stuck with a bad mood. Highly-processed foods (think mac + cheese and sugary desserts — ahem, Whit), which are full of empty calories, can often be the culprit.
Studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, which is high in healthy fats like fish, olive oil and nuts, to lower rates of depression. Rather than self-medicating with sugar and fat in a time of crisis, Wei suggests cooking healthy meals by yourself or with friends in a relaxed setting. But sometimes when the feeling strikes, there isn’t enough time to make a full meal, and Wei says that’s okay too. “Any changes that you decide to make for yourself are best when they feel right for you and are sustainable long-term,” she said. Scroll on for three tips for feeding your brain!
1. Low Glycemic Index Carbohydrates: We’re often moody (aka hangry) when our blood sugar is low. Reach for whole grains and fresh fruits. Their steady release of sugars will keep irritability at bay.
2. Healthy Fats: Naturally-occurring fats in avocados, nuts and olive oil are great sources for Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids. Next time you snack, swap out chips for a handful of crunchy walnuts or almonds.
3. Colorful Vegetables: “Eat the rainbow, without getting Skittles,” says Wei. The color of fruits and vegetables actually indicate healthy phytonutrients, which can help fight off disease. A vibrant plate means you’re eating a range of nutrients.
How do you feed your mind? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
(Top/Feat photo via Don Arnold/Getty)