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Bad Mood Foods: 4 Food Groups That Can Impact Your Emotional Wellbeing

Did you know that the things you eat and drink can greatly effect your mood?

You've no doubt heard the saying, "you are what you eat". 

And interestingly, this not only applies to your physical body, but also how you feel and your emotional and mental wellbeing as well.

Food not only feeds your stomach, it feeds your emotions.  It can either nourish, energise and make you feel good, or it can trigger negative emotions, mood swings and compound poor habits.

Here we highlight 4 big food categories that you should definitely consider avoiding if you're susceptible to mood swings, emotional imbalances or mental health challenges.  In fact, limiting the amount of these you consume is a must even if you simply want to look and feel your best!  

1. Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

You’d be hard-pressed to find a food category that impacts your mood in a bad way more than processed sugar and artificial sweeteners.

Processed sugar and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, are among the most addictive substances on the planet and they're very different to the naturally occurring sugars that you'll find in nature that have not been tampered with.

Whole, fresh seasonal fruits which contain natural unprocessed sugar and frequencies of light, actually nourish, cleanse and energise you, rather than cause chaos in the body and brain.

The biggest problem with processed sugar is two-fold.

First, it is devoid of natural fibre and has virtually no nutrient profile that is beneficial to the body.

And second, it rapidly spikes insulin which causes you to crash and burn, which is terrible for your mood and will eventually create an addiction to sugar because your brain is constantly searching for the next sugar 'hit'.

If you want to greatly reduce anxiety, lethargy and mood swings and take good care of your waste line, it is important to avoid processed sugar and artificial sweeteners at all costs, which are found in a plethora of processed foods and drinks you'll find on your supermarket shelf.

Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh seasonal fruits, raw dates, dried fruit, raw organic honey and organic maple syrup.  All of these natural sweeteners can be incorporated into a healthy diet and even used as ingredients to prepare delightful, nutritious raw treats and desserts. 

2. Processed Food

Processed food encompasses a range of categories which mainly include the following:

  • Packaged processed foods e.g. sweet & savoury snacks, cereals,  condiments & canned foods
  • Processed meats e.g. ham, salami, bacon and corned meats 
  • Factory Farmed Dairy Products e.g. pasteurised, homogenised and flavoured dairy products
  • Frozen and Takeaway Foods e.g. pizzas, pies and burgers
  • Industrial Seed Oils e.g. Canola, Corn, Cottonseed & Soybean oils

The problem with these types of foods is that they're generally loaded with the worst types of fats, sugar, additives and preservatives, all of which are devoid of beneficial nutrients and cause chaos in the body.

Whether it be insulin spikes, gut health imbalances, free-radicals in the body and brain, or basic mal-nourishment, a diet that prioritises processed foods will not only impact your mood but your cardiovascular health as well. 

To minimise processed food in your diet it's important to change your shopping habits and possibly your relationship with food if processed food has become your dietary staple.  Shop at farmer's markets for fresh produce and in the 'outside' aisles at supermarkets which generally display the freshest produce.

Look for inspiration in the form of healthy eating plans, blogs and recipes that can get you on the path to planning your meals with fresh, seasonal produce and healthier eating, which will positively impact your relationship with food and your mood.

3. Refined Flour & Grains 

Refined flour and grains mostly include foods such as:

  • White bread, flour and pasta
  • Packaged Cereals
  • Cakes, cookies and biscuits

The problem with these foods is that they're calorie rich and nutrient poor.  Additionally, they have been stripped of their natural fibres. 

These factors combined can lead to inflammatory responses in the body such as weight gain, chronic fatigue, skin breakouts and even diabetes.  Of course, these responses can also cause anxiety, depression, ongoing irritability and mood swings which can easily spiral out of control.

In addition, refined grains have a similar effect in the body as processed sugar in terms of insulin spikes that can put you on the 'bad diet' merry-go-round.

When it comes to flour and grains, be sure to choose whole grains and whole grain products, that have not been refined, whenever you can.  These include wild rice, organic stone milled flour, rolled oats and wheatgerm to name a few.

Thankfully these days, it's just as easy to find whole unrefined flour and grain products and good supermarkets and health food stores as it is to find the harmful processed versions.  The key is to have your eyes open and to simply choose to put your self care first.

4. Alcohol 

Although some forms of alcohol such as organic, preservative-free wines and naturally brewed beers can be ok (and if even beneficial) to your health in moderation, "hard" alcohol is definitely a category you want to avoid because of the chemical reaction it causes in the body and brain.

Hard alcohol generally refers to spirits, distilled alcohol, cocktails and chemically laced beers and wines.

Alcohol is a sneaky one, because it tricks you into thinking you’re happy and having fun at first while slowing making you feel worse than you would have by abstaining. 

Many of us tend to have a glass of wine or beer with dinner or to celebrate something, but if you’re using it to suppress physical or emotional stress or as a relaxation 'bandaid' at the end of each day, it will create dependency and long term emotional challenges.

Alcohol is a known central nervous system anti-depressant.  In addition, drinking too much alcohol of any kind can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the gut and disrupt sleep patterns - all of which affect your mood!

If you are going to drink alcohol, be sure to be very conscious about the types you choose to drink and only in moderation, so that it doesn't become a crutch, habit or way of dealing with your problems, which can become a downward spiral of depression, regret and frustration.

Try limiting your alcohol intake to 1-2 nights a week with meals and don't binge drink to make up for those days you missed during the week.

It's also good to experiment with “dry months”, from time to time.  When you do this, you'll find you'll wake up fresher, clearer and more alert and you'll also look for other more fun and productive ways to enjoy your spare time. 

The Main Take Away

When it comes to your mood and every day mental health and wellbeing, what you eat is very important.

The foods you eat and drink have a big impact, not only on your physical body over time, but also on how you feel within yourself and your ability to function at your best.

For this reason, you can manage your mood by consciously avoiding the major food categories that will deplete you and cause imbalances in your body.

The main culprits are hard alcohol, refined sugars and grains, processed and packaged food as we've explained in detail here.

When you limit them and replace them with fresh, seasonal and locally sourced produce, your relationship with food will improve, your body and cells will become more nourished, and you'll go a long way to being the brightest, happiest and healthiest version of you.

Tolman Self Care.


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