To help people with mental health issues and their families and all of us for that matter, cope with and rise above challenges, HelpPRO brings you this Jan/Feb series of practical tips and suggestions from certified WRAP and NAMI instructor, Cheryl Johnson. Cheryl “connects the dots” between lifestyle choices we control and our ability to live a ‘normal’ life. Explore your options below and these next few weeks with the HelpPRO Blog and Cheryl.
It’s no secret food affects your mood. Skip a meal and you feel sluggish and may get a headache. But can food actually make you more positive and upbeat? There is growing evidence certain foods can improve your mood. Food is not a cure or a substitute for medication for diagnosed mood disorders, but it can serve as another tool to keep your perspective bright. Here are some simple suggestions, but if you do research on your own, there is a wealth of information on foods to improve your mood.
Carbs – those evil carbs that make you gain weight and are not healthy. Not necessarily. Good carbs contribute to serotonin production, the calming, feel good brain chemical that can help alleviate depression. (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids – fish, flaxseed and walnuts are rich in Omega-3 and also help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Fish is a good mood food! Personally I like walnuts, but moderation is important. Walnuts can contribute to weight gain, another factor that may contribute to a sour mood. (http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/how-food-affects-your-moods)
Vitamin D – Plenty of sunshine can improve mood. Get outside, enjoy the sun and eat food rich in vitamin D. But keep in mind that without K vitamins – vitamin D has limited effect on mood. (http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/12/16/vitamin-k2.aspx)
Chocolate and Caffeine – The milk chocolate many of us love only has minimal impact on mood. The best chocolate for mood is more than 50% cocoa and the higher the better. Cocoa rich chocolate is an acquired taste so give it a chance and enjoy the added benefit of a calmer and more relaxed mood. (http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/04/27/chocolate-and-mood-disorders/) And what about caffeine? Moderation is best. Caffeine may affect sleep and lack of sleep can affect mood, but a cup or two of coffee will not hurt and may help perk you up and focus to get your work done contributing to a good mood….
Take time to learn more at the links provided (or any others) or talk to your doctor and nutritionist.
Focus on good mood food!
Cheryl Johnson is a certified NAMI and WRAP instructor and regularly teaches courses that provide families and individuals who face mental health challenges information to help them lead full and satisfying lives. To get more information on Cheryl’s work or programs you can be in touch with Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org.