If you regularly feel sluggish, depressed, irritable, edgy or just a little off your game, what and when you eat might be to blame. It is no secret that a healthy diet that provides your body with the nutrients it needs leads to better health and more energy, but it is not as widely known that your diet is also tied to your mood.
Here are five ways your food choices may be affecting your mood:
1. Vitamin B Deficiency
B vitamins are often recommended to those who battle depression or unexplained fatigue. This is no surprise, since vitamin B deficiency has been linked to depression, mood disorders, irritability, sleep problems, cognitive impairment and feeling nervous. B vitamins are mostly found in animal products, so if you eat a plant-based diet, you may need to supplement with a vitamin B complex.
2. Irregular Eating Patterns
Folks who skip meals or do not eat regularly may experience significant changes in their blood sugar level, which can lead to irritability, fatigue, mood swings and feeling anxious. Eating regularly and including good carbs in your diet such as whole grains will help stabilize your blood sugar level throughout the day.
3. Iron Deficiency
Many women, and some men, suffer from iron deficiency and its effects, which can include fatigue, depression and difficulty concentrating. While you can increase you iron intake by increasing your consumption of red meat and egg yolks, the healthier way to avoid iron deficiency is by adopting a plant-based diet that includes plenty of beans and leafy greens.
4. Skipping the Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research shows that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can improve mood, enhance memory function and decrease depression. You can easily increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids by including more salmon, chia seeds, ground flaxseeds or walnuts in your diet.
5. Relying on Caffeine
If you rely on caffeine to wake you up in the morning and keep you going throughout the day, you probably have noticed that the increased energy you may get from your morning coffee often comes with feeling anxious or a bit jittery. Many people also experience sluggishness once the stimulant effect wears off. Weaning yourself off of caffeine is probably your best bet, but if you simply cannot imagine starting your day without your java fix, try to reduce your intake to fewer than three cups a day to limit the negative effects.