A spoonful of happiness: a guide to happy foods
Transitioning from the carefree summer to a full semester on campus can be a bit of a bumpy ride in the beginning. Trying to go cold turkey from eating pizza and burritos over the summer to the “green” diet can cause stress on your body as well as your mind. You might even be feeling a little blue. However, one thing is certain: You can control your fate — or at least your food intake.
Dr. Drew Ramsey, author of “The Happiness Diet,” explains that “the smallest choices each day can make a real difference in improving mental and emotional well-being, stabilizing moods and improving focus.” Foods you choose to eat will actually have an impact on your mood!
Some of us know this routine from good ol’ fashioned chick flicks: A crying girl sits alone on the couch, comforting herself with a gallon of ice cream. And sure, everyone has their choice of comfort food, but do you have your choice of happy food? If not, have no fear: A list is here.
An assortment of items found by Dr. Ramsey as well as other researchers and professionals have shown that “happy foods,” or foods that enhance one’s mood for the better, are not what most would think. Let’s start with the basics.
Water: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! We have heard this since the dawn of time: Water is essential in keeping our bodies hydrated and functioning. However, did you know that a lack of fluid in the body can cause severe mood swings, as well as a weakening of body movements?
Here’s a sweet tip: Take your weight, and divide it by two. That is the amount of water in ounces you should be drinking daily. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, you should aim to drink 70 ounces of water. This fact was brought to you by WebMD.
Eggs: your daily protein that enjoys making a presence on the breakfast plate. However, eggs not only provide a tasty meal, they also produce natural serotonin in the body. When people have low levels of serotonin, they can suffer from depression, insomnia and fatigue.
Almonds: Nature’s gift to your snack pack. Not only do these little guys pack the protein, they also contain magnesium, which is essential to a healthy brain and reduces the likelihood of depression. That’s nuts!
Flaxseed: According to Dr. Ramsey, the standard American diet has left us with very little opportunity to incorporate Omega-3’s. These are essential fatty acids that are essential in elevating the mood as well as getting fatty acids! Flaxseed is not just for the birds. Sprinkle a scoop over your yogurt or toss some into a smoothie!
Dark Chocolate: Maybe the romcoms are on to something. Dark chocolate contains mood-altering compounds like theobromine and phenylethylamine (huge words right?!). Not to worry, those are good things! A Swiss study found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones as well as anxiety levels. However, this doesn’t mean eating candy bars or jumbo Hershey’s bars will be justified in the name of anti-anxiety! The study proved that eating about an ounce of dark chocolate (not milk chocolate) a day for two weeks reduced the stress hormone. Meaning, you can get away with eating about six dark Hershey Kisses a day, in the name of stress relief.
Of course, practicing a balanced diet is always a smart thing. Fill your plate with a majority of vegetables, then meats and lastly complex carbohydrates.
Now that you have the tools to control your mood through food, take a fork and dig in!
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