Top 10 to Help You Get Out of a ‘Low’ Mood Swing
Within the brain, chemicals help
transmit messages from one nerve cell to another. There are two such
substances, known as endorphins, that seem to affect our moods;
serotonin and norepinephrine. The body makes these particular
endorphins from the
food we eat
and therefore we can, to a certain extent, raise the level of these
substances in the brain by eating specific foods. Scientifically,
food has been shown to have a significant effect on raising the mood
only if the level of serotonin or norepinephrine is low before you
eat. It is not a question of the more you eat the happier you become
ad infinitum, but more a question of helping to reverse a negative
feeling that has been induced by a low serotonin or norepinephrine
THE SUGAR ‘HIGH’
The main source of these endorphins is
carbohydrate-rich foods. This is why some women seem to feel
happier after they have eaten sweets, cakes, biscuits or chocolate.
They would get the same effect from honey, jam, soft drinks, sugary
white rice and pasta.
The problem with eating these foods to
pick you up is that sugary foods are very rapidly absorbed into the
blood. The sudden influx of sugar causes a serotonin rush, but
unfortunately a secondary effect is a rapid production of insulin.
Insulin is a hormone that breaks down sugar so the body can absorb
it. If there is a sudden rise in the sugar level in the blood the
insulin quickly breaks it down, leading to drop in both sugar and
endorphin levels. This leaves you feeling even lower than you were
Some women seem to be particularly
sensitive to this effect and experience extreme reactions. The
swings in endorphins make them agitated, moody and aggressive. These
women should therefore avoid very sugary foods. Some even have to
avoid all sugar-containing foods, but this is an extreme precaution.
For the majority of women, you either
have a meal as soon as possible after you eat the sugary food or
choose to get your sugar/endorphin ‘fix’ from a more slowly absorbed
carbohydrate. Good examples include a whole meal biscuit or a piece
of wholegrain bread, with or without a topping of fresh fruit or
low-sugar fruit spread. Having a little fibre intertwined with the
sugar in these foods helps to lift a low, but not too fast. You are
therefore much more likely to stay happy for longer.
Serotonin and norepinephrine are not
only made by sugary and starchy foods, they are also made from
tryptophan and L-phenylalanine, amino acids present in certain
foods. It has been suggested that people with low intakes of
these amino acids are more likely to feel down, or even suicidal.
However, this finding is not that easy to act upon. Even if you
increase your consumption of the relevant
foods, your brain can only use a certain amount of the amino
acids. Make sure that you are having a healthy, varied,
balanced diet, to avoid exposing your body to a lack of
serotonin or norepinephine.
ACTION PLAN TO HELP YOU GET OUT OF
A ‘LOW’ MOOD SWING
well and choose your favorite foods
Low time is not always the best time
to start a
weight-reducing program. Have a deliberately indulgent day and
then see how you feel tomorrow. However, some women would feel
happier if they lost a little
cleansed their bodies of ‘junk’. If this applies to you, use
Whether you are aiming to
detoxify or simply turn over a healthy new leaf, your primary goal
is to enjoy your food. Never punish yourself for indulgences.
Try to make sure
that your meals are nutritious
Look at food as an empowering tool and
eat a well
balanced diet, including plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits,
wholegrain cereal foods, some lean meat, fish, chicken and dairy
products. A delicious and healthy eating pattern will help you both
physiologically and psychologically.
Don't worry if
you feel you need a short burst of "happiness"
An occasional sweet, cake, chocolate
or piece of lovely fresh
bread won’t hurt; a helping of a delicious
pudding such as sherry trifle, treacle tart, chocolate pudding or
ice cream can really cheer you up. However, remember that very
sugary food will give you a mood crash if you don’t follow them with
Better still; eat something that is both sweet and high in fibre.
Fruit-fresh, dried or oat biscuits are good mood boosters.
Keep your meals
Luckily, some of the most comforting
foods are the simplest to prepare, such as soups, bangers and mash
(but make them good-quality sausages and luxurious creamy or buttery
mashed potatoes); omelettes, tomatoes and cheese on toast (try
walnut, olive or onion bread). But don’t feel guilty if you choose a
meal. It’s much better to have something easy and hassle- free
than to slave over the stove and end up feeling tired and
Cut down on
protein during dinner.
Unless you're planning a late night,
consider a comforting dinner with carbohydrates, such as pasta,
potatoes, grains or rice, as the main focus and protein on the side.
This type of meal may help you relax and get ready for bedtime. Make
sure to get adequate amounts of
your other meals, however. Keep in mind that eating too much at
night may cause your gastrointestinal system to work overtime,
making it more difficult for you to get a good night's rest.
For those of you who exercise
regularly, 64 to 90 ounces of water are often recommended per day.
Of course, this may vary depending on your health status, size,
activity level, dietary patterns and environment. (Being in heated
and air-conditioned environments can dehydrate you more than you
think. You may also need more water if you're at a high altitude or
in a dry environment, such as a desert.) Researchers have found that
healthy adults who are sedentary do not need as much water on a
daily basis as people who exercise regularly, however. Keep in mind
that certain beverages, such as caffeinated drinks, may cause some
fluid loss by increasing urination.
Make eating a
Try to include a variety of fresh,
colorful and tasty ingredients in your meals. Explore food markets
and look at
magazines and cookery books for inspiration. Eating out
with a friend in a relaxed restaurant or in the fresh air in a
beautiful spot can also help lift your mood.
Enjoy a little
A glass or two of delicious wine, a
long, cool gin and tonic, a good whisky or brandy may be just what
you fancy, so go ahead. You must watch that you don’t consume too
much alcohol, however, as the problems don’t go away. They’ll still
be around in the morning, along with a hangover. Try not to get into
the habit of turning to alcohol as the only thing to promote
relaxation or happiness. Don’t cut yourself off from all of life’s
other enjoyable experience: music,
books, plays, films. There is no need to feel guilty about having a
tipple, though, and in addition, alcohol can help to give you an
appetite, which could help if you are feeling too low to be bothered
Avoid a large
amounts of coffee and tea
One really good cup of tea or coffee
may be just what you need, but that doesn’t mean that two or three
cups will be better. The caffeine in these drinks can cause some
people to become agitated or even cause a headache. Caffeine also
increases the excretion of
minerals from the body, which doesn’t help in times of
and feeling low.
Exercise can help you to feel happier
as it causes your body to produce endorphins such as serotonin. It
can also act as a step to help you out of the situation that is
making you feel down. Bringing you into contact with other people
can help on occasions. You may feel a further benefit of exercise if
you’re worried about excess weight gain, which may happen if you are
taking anti-depressants . Exercising gives you an opportunity to
burn up some
and can distract you from comfort over-eating. In a situation
when you feel hopeless and helpless, exercise can be an empowering
Non-fat dairy products
Dated 26 November 2011