Most people know that the foods we choose to eat affect our physical health, but overlook the effect they have on our mental health. If you learn how foods affect you, you can be more strategic about what to eat when in order to keep you in a better state of mind. Carbohydrates release the “feel good” hormone serotonin. It is important to keep in mind that simple carbs, such as pasta, white bread, and sweets, will cause only a short surge in energy, followed by a crash. Complex carbs, such as whole grains and vegetables, are better for your mood. Foods high in protein, like meat, fish, eggs, legumes, and dairy products, release dopamine and norepinephrine, which can elevate your mood, energy, and concentration. They also keep you feeling satisfied for longer. Highly processed and deep-fried foods can leave you feeling down. Salmon, oysters, berries, and fermented foods are all shown to be great mood-lifters. Dark chocolate has many mood-boosting compounds, so it may be helpful to swap fried or sugary desserts for dark chocolate. All that being said, it is okay to treat yourself to sweets and fried food on occasion. Just be mindful of when you are doing so. Perhaps you avoid treating yourself in the middle of the workday, and save it for a Friday night when you don’t have much to do besides relax and watch a movie. Also, keep in mind that everyone is different, and it may be a trial-and-error process for you to figure out which foods leave you feeling your best!


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