Alright! We all want to feel GOOD. Certain foods can do this. You might have comfort foods you enjoy such as tomato soup when you are sick or warm apple pie for dessert on a crisp fall evening. Often, foods like these are associated with happy memories. Frequently they are also not the healthiest choices. Pay attention to whether you are eating something because of a connection to comfort, habit, or tradition– and instead of giving it up, try creating a new nutritious version of an old favorite. I can help you do this, as I am always adjusting recipes I find in cookbooks or online to boost their nutritional value. (I’ll post some recipe modifications soon to give you ideas.)
There are also specific foods that can play a role in lifting our moods because of natural compounds such as caffeine, theobromine, or theanine. Many people can relate to craving their cup of coffee in the morning and the clarity and well-being it provides. Tea can have the same effect. And most women would agree that chocolate is well-known and adored for its mood-enhancing properties.
It’s a myth that coffee, tea, and chocolate are foods to avoid. Actually, they are all filled with high levels of antioxidants! In their natural state, that is. Once all that sugar is added they become another story. Try cutting down on the amount of sugar you add to your coffee each morning. Do it little by little and before you know it your taste buds will have adjusted. And by all means, avoid artificial sweeteners. I don’t like black coffee so I add unsweetened soy milk, coconut milk or almond milk to lighten it up.
When buying chocolate bars, look for 70% or higher cocoa content. There are so many to choose from. The one pictured above is actually 88% and it’s pretty bitter, but sometimes I am in the mood for that! Green and Blacks makes a really awesome 70%, Equal Exchange has a few varieties of tasty bars, and I just found a couple of new ones at Whole Foods by Nirvana:
They all still have sugar, but much less than the junky chocolate bars most of us were brought up eating. General rule of thumb: the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar. And because these dark chocolate bars are so rich and flavorful, you don’t need to eat much. Anywhere from one to four squares makes a nice treat. Ok, maybe a third of the bar on some occasions (PMS?), but you surely don’t need to eat more than that at once.
One of my favorite pick-me-ups is to make a cup of green tea and savor a few bites of dark chocolate while sipping it. Let the chocolate melt in your mouth with the tea….and see if you don’t start feeling blissful.
And check this out…
There are so many ways you can improve your mood when feeling down in the dumps. Food is only one means and just a single piece in the puzzle of your life. Journaling, laughing with friends and family, being out in nature, the sunshine, and the fresh air, meditating, organizing/cleaning, playing with pets, and exercise are all mood boosters too. For me, running helps keep me sane. So does maintaining organization around the house. Good nutrition definitely contributes to having energy and a positive mood. Find out what you need to stay balanced and happy. And don’t be afraid to enjoy a little dark chocolate.