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11 Ways Your Diet Controls Your Mood

Feeling down in the dumps? Your late lunch may be to blame.

Wondering why you've been feeling groggy, deep in the dumps, or unusually energized? Recalling your last meal can actually help you uncover the secrets behind your shifting moods.

Rather than just manipulating the number on your scale, a healthy, balanced diet can also work its magic on your mental state. If your mood can use a makeover, find out how your pantry and fridge may be to blame. And if you're truly convinced fitting into your skinny jeans will help your spirits soar, don't miss our 200 Best Weight Loss Tips.

You'll Feel More Optimistic

Happy woman walking

Between those occasional missed deadlines and relationship woes, we could all use a pair of rose-colored glasses every once in a blue. Luckily, there's an easier way to spot the silver lining: Eat your antioxidants! A study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine discovered that folks with higher levels of the carotenoid antioxidant (found in sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark leafy greens) experienced heightened optimism, which is associated with better physical health.

It Can Cause Depression

Depressed man

Those inexpensive, salty packs of sunflower seeds may be providing you with healthy fats and protein, but picking the wrong bag could turn that smile upside down. "While a great choice when consumed raw or roasted yourself, the processed versions are often coated in a preservative called potassium bromate, which blocks iodine from being absorbed by the thyroid," Kelly Boyer founder and CEO at Paleta tells us in 20 Foods That Put You in a Bad Mood. "When your thyroid can't function properly, you may not be able to either. Psychiatrists often check their patients' thyroid levels when dealing with depression."

It Can Get You… In The Mood

Couple in bed

Just like a silky new nightgown or lacy lingerie, the right foods can send you and your partner straight to the sheets. Foods such as chocolate and oysters are known to get your sex drive up thanks to cocoa's release of mood-boosting serotonin and the shellfish's sex-drive-revving zinc. And pairing the two aphrodisiacs with a glass of red could really heat things up in the bedroom. According to a Journal of Sexual Medicine study, women who imbibed one to two glasses of red wine had heightened sexual desire compared to those who didn't sip.

It Can Lead to Wonky Energy Levels

Tired woman with coffee

We all know that soda is the wrong beverage of choice when you're looking to slim down and improve your overall health, but pop can also dampen your mood. "Soda drinks contain simple sugars that are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream. This causes a rapid rise in energy and then a crash, which affects blood sugar control, energy levels, and mood," celebrity nutritionist and health consultant Mikaela Reuben warns us in 20 Foods That Put You in a Bad Mood.

You'll Be Happier…

Happy couple

Healthy fats such as omega-3s not only help you slim down but also help you perk up. This type of polyunsaturated fat was found to pack in neuroprotective benefits that can help fight off mood disorders such as depression and anxiety, according to a study in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Neuroscience. What's more, B vitamins and zinc are linked to promoting a happier mood. To reap all three mood-brightening nutrients, stock up on eggs, lean beef, low-sugar yogurt, and fatty fish.

…But It Can Also Send You Down in the Dumps

Woman cravings

Simple carbs filled with belt-busting added sugars—think doughnuts, muffins, and white bread—might provide a temporary high, but will ultimately rain on your parade. "The sugars will be released into the bloodstream, allowing an energy boost to take place but ultimately ends in a low point, leaving one to feel fatigued, irritable, and depressed," Reuben shares in 20 Foods That Put You in a Bad Mood.

It Can Nip Anxiety In The Bud

Angry woman

Instead of succumbing to road rage on your way to work, load up on a tryptophan-filled breakfast before you head out. Tryptophan, a natural mood regulator that's present in grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, bananas, and spirulina, can help calm you down and reduce anxiety by increasing production of feel-good serotonin.

It Can Sustain Alertness

Woman working

Rather than relying on your multiple cups of Joe a day, kick the caffeine habit and reach for foods rich in vitamin C and complex carbs. A study in Psychopharmacology found that Vitamin C supplementation helps increase mental vigor and improved cognitive performance. In addition, slow-burning carbs such as sweet potatoes and whole grains help sustain your energy levels, ridding you of that peeving mental fog.

It Can Make You Sleepy

Sleepy woman eating

Next time you find yourself restlessly tossing and turning, pop a few almonds rather than an Ambien. Magnesium (found in the subtly sweet nut along with beans and leafy veggies) was found to improve insomnia and sleep quality, according to a study published in the Journal of Research and Medical Sciences.

You'll Feel Angry

Angry couple

…Or hangry, depending on what you noshed on—or didn't—that day. Drastically cutting calories in hopes of slimming down can cause your dopamine levels to plummet, depriving your brain's pleasure center of feel-good hormones. What's more, choose a salad over a cheeseburger every time, and you'll be doing your mood a disservice. "Research has shown that exerting self-control makes people more likely to behave aggressively toward others and people on diets are known to be irritable and quick to anger," Time reports. Instead of allowing a restrictive diet to hijack your joy, practice mindful eating and indulge in your favorite treats in moderation.

It Can Help You Feel Energized

Middle aged man running

Throwing back espresso shots isn't the only way to keep your energy levels sky-high. According to Harvard Health Medical School, eating small meals frequently, avoiding crash diets, limiting alcohol, and sipping water aplenty can help you maintain lasting energy and prevent fatigue. Looking for more ways to power through your day? Try these 20 Foods As Energizing As Coffee.

April Benshosan
April is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who has a passion for all things health, wellness, and tastebud-related. Read more about April
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