Friday, March 11, 2016

Good Mood Food


I admitted this on Twitter a few days ago: Pessimism scares me.

I don't like the idea of pessimism, an ingrained behavior and belief that things will always go wrong, the worst will always happen, and that things will not get better.

If I had to rank depression versus pessimism, I think I'd pick depression, because I think there are ways to handle depression. I'm not sure how to handle pessimism. (This is an uninformed opinion that I'm just putting out here. I'm willing to hear opposing viewpoints and discuss them.)

 think I do get depressed, actually, but I think I would describe myself as an occasionally depressed optimist. Even when I'm having my low periods where I'm not productive and carrying that weight of anxiety and there are holes in my energy buckets, I still remember the times where I feel well and whole and happy. I look forward to those times and I know I will feel better. This is just my particular situation. A friend once suggested I might be described as having hypomania, and it could be true, but I'm not particularly worried about figuring out if I fit that label.

I would be worried if I were ever labelled a pessimist.

But I do get down.

Sometimes when I'm wallowing in those low spots, I look for the right food to eat. So I sat down and did a little googling for "good mood food." I love the way that sounds. And this result from From Prevention magazine online about food and mood freaked me out!
When high-carbohydrate food isn't bogged down by the presence of protein or fat, they allow an amino acid called tryptophan to flood your brain, where it morphs into serotonin, a neurotransmitter that boosts mood and curbs food cravings (such as your chocolate yearnings). As a bonus, it helps you tolerate pain and can even help you sleep like a baby. And all that happens in just half an hour.
You could also have a piece of whole wheat bread with some honey or a bowl of air-popped popcorn, suggests Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Food & Mood. But skip the protein foods such as cheese, chicken, or turkey. "They suppress serotonin," she says, "because all the other amino acids in them compete with tryptophan, so it can't get into your brain." If you really need chocolate, avoid the usually creamy, fatty kind (sorry), and drizzle fat-free chocolate syrup over cut-up fruit or an English muffin for a do-it-yourself pain au chocolat.
Did you read what I read? (No, not the part where 'food' is singular but then the writer uses the plural pronoun 'they' later in the sentence and it reads so awkwardly.) The part "whole wheat bread with honey!" YUM! I could pass on the popcorn. Chocolate syrup on fruit sounds good, too!! YUM!! (but fat-free chocolate syrup does not sound good.)

Most of the time, exercise is enough to boost my mood. Also, productive work on a fun piece of writing can boost my mood, too.

This article has a lot of interesting tips. I learned that SAD sufferers can benefit from high-carb diets, which frankly, is how my diet rolls during the winter. I usually have no trouble eating a high protein, high vegetable content diet during the summer but in the winter I turn into this carb monster. I used to feel guilty about it, but I think I'm going to let that go.

I should also try to eat more fish, like shrimp, sardines and salmon. Apparently that helps when people are feeling dull and listless, too!

The hard part about eating all of this food is getting the energy to dig it out of my fridge and pantry and actually cook it. It's so much easier when I'm feeling this blah to just microwave a Hot Pocket.