“I need a quick pick-me-up,” said Beth Cartwright. “But by the time I pick my daughter up, go to the store for groceries, and arrived back home, I notice I am shaky, depressed and feel overwhelmed.”
Beth says she has every reason to be happy, with a wonderful husband, family and home, but has “underneath type sadness that just overtakes me every evening.”
With further discussion, Beth mentioned she has the same ritual every afternoon, usually stops by the same fast food restaurant for a 32 oz. cherry limeade drink on her way to pick up her daughter from elementary school.
Bingo! There is no wonder Beth feels this way. After looking at the nutritional value of her drink, we were shocked to find out she was drinking the equivalent of 22 teaspoons of sugar in each cup.
The 32 oz. drink has 340 calories, 91 grams of carbohydrates and 88 grams of sugar. There is no dietary fiber, protein, Vitamin A in it. It does have 10% of the recommended daily requirement for Vitamin C though.
Beth, like many Americans was suffering from depression, sluggishness and general despair because of her ritual.
“A week later of no soft drinks and I felt like myself again,” Beth observed. “I had a tough few days, even a headache, but now I have more energy and can’t even believe I was actually addicted to those (drinks).”
The old adage, you are what you eat, has much wisdom. A powerful key to happiness begins with basic nutrition strategies:
•Eat often and don’t skip meals. Eat every four to five hours to ensure your body has a continuous source of fuel and to keep your blood sugar levels steady. This stabilizes your mood. It’s important to talk with your doctor if you feel like your blood sugar might be dipping frequently. By all means, do not bypass the most important meal of the day.
•Don’t skip meals. Though it may be tempting to rush out the door without breakfast, Psychology Today reports that starting the day without fuel–or bypassing any meal–is a mistake. If you keep yourself from getting too hungry, you may be able to avoid a bad mood.
•Know what to avoid. Before you can eat mood-boosting foods, it’s important to know which foods to leave off (or limit) on your shopping list. The biggest bad-mood culprits are refined carbohydrates, like sugar. The simple sugars that are in junk foods like candy and soda–as well as in everyday foods like fruit juice, syrup, and jams–can cause your blood sugar to go up and down like a roller coaster. Refined white starches such as white rice, white bread, and crackers can have the same effect. Blood sugar spikes and drops can leave you with a short-lived burst of energy followed by a tired, cranky feeling. For best mood results, you should also avoid alcohol, since it’s a depressant and can disturb your sleep.
What to Eat
Here are some of the best foods to eat to stay healthy and happy:
•Protein. Adding protein to your meals can help slow the absorption of carbohydrates in your blood, which may improve your mood for several hours after eating. Eggs, poultry, seafood, tofu, and low-fat yogurt are all smart protein choices.
•Vitamins. There are a few specific vitamins that research has suggested can be helpful for mood. Research reported by NBC News shows that vitamin D may help relieve mood disorders, such as seasonal affective disorder. Studies have also suggested that the vitamins folate and B12 may help ease depression. To get your daily dose of vitamin D, try low-fat milk, egg yolks, and soymilk. Many doctors also recommend adding a multivitamin that contains vitamin D. Broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, and oranges are high in folate, while cottage cheese, lean beef, and salmon can provide vitamin B12.
•Fiber. Foods that contain soluble fiber–such as brown rice, barley, pears, and peas–can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream, decreasing mood swings.