I'll admit it - I've been called an emotional eater. There's something about food that has always been comforting to me, which of course does not work in my favor when I'm feeling less than sunny. Although emotional eating can be detrimental to your health, there are some foods that actually have the power to improve your mood. Now, put DOWN that pint of Ben & Jerry's - it's only going to give you a stomachache - and read on for some blues-busting snacks.
When things in your life get nutty, your stress may cause you to head for the pantry and reach for a bag of whatever. Instead, choose nuts. Walnuts, flaxseed and chia seed all have high levels of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that has been linked to high spirits.
When you just feel fishy
Something's just not right, but you're not sure what's up? Quell this fishy feeling with fish itself! Another great source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish like salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines have been shown to help the neurotransmitters in your brain that regulate mood. Plus, I really don't know how you could feel UNhappy while eating salmon. I just don't.
A chocolatey cheer-up
Yes, it's true - chocolate has magical healing powers. Okay, maybe they're not exactly magical, but this delicious down-in-the-dumps go-to has some serious power, stemming largely from its theobromine and phenylethyamine, the mood-boosting compounds it contains. Just make sure you make it dark chocolate, which tends to have less fat and sugar than other varieties. Any sort of refined sugar snack can just create crazy sugar highs (and lows).
Power up with protein
You know that protein is good for your muscles and energy levels, but it can help you sustain a good mood longer, too. This is because it helps slow the absorption of the carbs you eat in your blood, which keeps you feeling upbeat even hours after eating. Plus, it can raise levels of those neurotransmitters, too. Greek yogurt is a good choice, since it has twice the protein of normal yogurt, It might just give you that smooth, creamy ice cream texture you were craving, too!
Don't be SAD, get milk!
If your blues are related to the changing weather outside, you're not alone. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a real type of depression that can be summed up as "winter blues." However, vitamin D has been found to help, and other studies have shown that people who are vitamin 'D-ficient' are more likely to be down. A great source of this sunny vitamin? Milk of course! You get the added bonus of strong bones thanks to this classic beverage's combo on vitamin D and calcium.
Keep in mind that eating throughout the day can also stave off bad moods (especially if you're like me and get cranky when hungry). But the proof is in the pudding (er - Greek yogurt?). Eating consistently (read: not constantly) provides your body and brain with a steady source of fuel and prevents your blood sugar - and mood - from dropping or spiking.