New Data Emerges on Food and Mood
By 2020, 50% of Americans are projected to meet diagnostic criteria for diabetes or pre-diabetes. Having diabetes doubles the odds of also having depression. The exact cause for this is unknown but there are certainly some overlapping biological processes such as: inflammation, sleep disturbance, physical inactivity, and poor diet.
In an age of immediate gratification and an abundance of foods high in sugar and salt, we are pressed more than ever to make deliberate and conscious choices about our health. This is true for food and just about every other aspect of our lives. For instance, we can do a daily scroll on social media or actually use the phone function and have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone.
In every moment of modern life we are faced with choices to eschew the readily available, like processed foods, and opt for the healthy choice. The more we have access to easy things, the more we have to think about what we really want for ourselves.
IDEAS TO BE MORE DELIBERATE ABOUT FOODS TO BOOST MOOD
Below are some ideas to try out. As a Mysore yoga practitioner, I agree with its philosophy that there is no one right diet for all people; just as there is no one way to do anything for all people. I believe we are here (alive on the planet) to figure ourselves out, and this includes what our bodies are asking for. You may need a period of time to detox in order to clear habituated cravings from your system but in time, you'll start to hear what your body is really asking for. I certainly experienced this myself. And, I had a lot of bad eating habits before. To get started, try any or all of the below:
1. Split your main dish with a friend. My friend from Japan calls American food "Big Food." Wherever she happens to dine in America, she is overwhelmed by one thing: the size of our portions. When you go out to eat, invite a friend. Have a heart-to-heart and split a main dish.
2. Dump sugar entirely, or as much as possible. This was one of the first things I did that made a remarkable difference in my body and energy level. I used to put a ton of sugar in my coffee every morning. I tapered this down and then finally stopped using sugar completely. From there, I was more cautious about the kinds of foods I eat that already contain sugar, like a banana has 100 - 150 calories from sugar. For awhile I went into the weeds on sugar calories but I don't any more, nor do I think it is necessary to keep a count (unless you enjoy that). Just be conscious that sugar is everywhere! Take a peak on the labels and by all means, if you can, leave it out of your coffee!
3. Avoid inflammatory foods like white starches and gluten. I know this can be really off-putting for people who find gluten-free talk to be nothing but an annoying fad, but there really is data behind grains causing inflammation and inflammation contributing to physical and psychiatric conditions. Eating the same foods for most of the week and having one day cheat day has been shown to actually help with weight loss. So don't despair. There's no need to completely eliminate croissants or the like. I enjoy a pastry or two every week.
4. Give intermittent fasting or window fasting a try. There is a great deal of research as well as hype on this topic. From personal experience, I have found that eating two meals between 11 and 6 (this is called window fasting) has been ideal for me. I do still have coffee in the morning around 6am which frankly helps me make it to yoga on an empty stomach. For all the changes I've made coffee is a non-negotiable. I can't imagine life without it. ;) If I'm hungry outside of the window period, I will take care of myself and have a plant-based or bone broth protein shake.
5. Replace one meal with a salad every day. In addition to being more mindful about portion sizes, replacing a meal (preferably dinner) with a salad will help you get more nutrients and fiber into your diet. A salad a day can also help reduce your overall daily caloric intake. There are a lot of ways to make salads taste more exciting than they may sound to you right now. Adding delicious things like avocado, nuts, fruit, goat cheese, legumes, sunflower seeds, etc. can make you fall in love with salads.