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The Link Between Your Food and Your Mood

by Susie Michelle Cortright |
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Breakfast
Eating a good breakfast helps concentration, particularly in the morning when you may need it most. Without it, you're more likely to make that second pot of coffee by mid-morning. Instead, keep your blood-sugar on an even keel all day with complex carbohydrates: fresh fruit, a bagel, whole-grain cereal, skim milk.

Many of us are more energized in the morning, so starting off with complex carbohydrates doesn't seem to slow us down as much as they might later in the day. Complex carbohydrates also provide the brain and muscles with a steady flow of the energy they need.

"Contrary to today's popular high-protein, low-carb diets, carbohydrate-rich foods such as grains, are the best sources of B-vitamins," Hudnall says. "It's the B vitamins that are primary in the metabolic production of energy."

Mid-morning snack
A mid-morning snack can prevent you from overeating at lunch. If you're craving carbs, which many of us do at this time of day, choose whole-grain bread, cereal, or fruit. Or try some low fat yogurt or cottage cheese. A bit of protein is true brain food—it may help you concentrate.

Lunch
At lunch, go light. Since a hefty helping of carbs can increase the amount of serotonin in the brain and cause that sleepy feeling, focus on low fat protein. Protein can actually raise energy levels by increasing brain chemicals called catecholamines. Try a lunch of low-fat cheese, fish, lean meat, poultry, or tofu.

Mid-afternoon Snack
Choose something that will keep you satisfied until dinner. A little fat is okay, and it gives those carbs and proteins some staying power.

Dinner
The agenda for the evening can dictate what you'll eat for dinner. Need to stay on overdrive for back-to-school night? Choose low-fat proteins. If you're in for a relax mode, indulge a little. And don't forget the bigger picture.

"What zaps energy," Hudnall says, "is when people get too focused on food and eating and that takes their attention away from what's important in their lives. A healthy lifestyle that meets our needs on all bases—physical, mental, and spiritual—is what will keep us energized."

Before Bed
Before turning in, carbs can supply seratonin to help you fall asleep. But go easy...too much food can reduce the quality of your sleep.

Exercise is important.
With all this meal planning. Don't forget to exercise. A daily workout boosts your mood like nothing else Before a workout, carbs are fastest to digest and pack quick energy. Add protein for staying power, but stay away from fats. They can make you cramp.

Susie Michelle is a freelance writer and full-time mom with a diverse background in fashion modeling, broadcast journalism and public relations. She is also the editor of Momscape.com; Reprinted with permission.
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