By Kristine Lee
Comfort foods in the form of junk foods are like one night stands; easy to derive pleasure from, with little promise of the feeling continuing into the future. And yet, while we know the consequences of unhealthy eating, sometimes doing what’s bad just feels so right. We succumb to emotional eating. We relapse in the company of potato chips, cartons of ice cream or our favourite chocolate saved just for those low moments in life.
But what if feeling good with a little help from food didn’t have to be so bad? Instead of relying on your usual sweeteners and preservatives, feed your emotions with foods that help you function at your best! Here are 8 healthy foods that act as natural anti-depressants and help keep a smile on your face by keeping your energy up and your stress levels down.
1. Greek Yogurt
Get a little angry when you’re hungry? Irritability is often caused by low levels of calcium. The fix: calcium in greek yogurt’s dairy products stimulates feel-good neurotransmitters in your brain and balances your mood. In addition, greek yogurt contains double the protein and half the sugars of plain yogurt. The high amounts of protein also raise mood-boosting neurotransmitters, while fewer sugars help prevent the crash after the initial rush.
Honey is not only healthier than regular sugar, but also contains natural ingredients, kaempferol and quercetin, which help prevent depression particularly by reducing inflammation in the brain. Sweeten up your mood by adding this sweetener in your tea or on toast!
Slice it, scoop it, or add it into a salad. This creamy, luxurious food is high in monounsaturated fats, which help keep receptors in the brain awake and ready to react to mood-boosting serotonin. Avocados also contain folic acids, vitamin C, antioxidants, and healthy fats (all important components in keeping your energy levels up and your stress levels down).
Tomatoes are loved not just for the delicious sauces they create, but for a substance known as lycopene, a fat-soluble phytonutrient that helps protect important brain fat and fights inflammation in the brain that causes depression. Just to be clear: pizza does not fall into the tomato category, as it is NEITHER fruit NOR vegetable.
Suffering from PMS? Eggs are known to be very beneficial in easing discomfort during PMS. High in protein, zinc, vitamin B, and omega-3, eggs not only keep you energized but also keep your stomach satisfied faster and longer - and we all understand the important relationship between a happy stomach and a happy mind. Meanwhile, high amounts of protein and omega 3’s keep your body feeling full and nourished, and enhance your mood by relieving anxiety and depression.
Boost your energy and increase brainpower with almonds! Like greek yogurt, almonds contain natural chemicals that produce mood stabilizing hormones in the form of adrenaline and dopamine. This fibre and magnesium packed nut also helps convert carbs, protein, and fat into energy, keeping you alert and awake throughout the day. To reap the most benefits, avoid roasted or salted almonds, and instead try raw almonds or almond milk for a quick pick-me-up.
7. Green Tea
From promoting weight loss to reducing the risk of cancer, it’s difficult to find a reason to not love green tea. When it comes to de-stressing the soul, this soothing drink is rich in antioxidants linked to relaxation and focus. Next time you find yourself nervous for an exam or doing something for the first time, try calming your nerves with a cup of green tea.
8. Dark Chocolate
When studies say that dark chocolate is nutritionally beneficial for your body and brain, don’t question it. This not so sinful food is high in magnesium, minerals (COCOA!), and has just the right amount of sugar and caffeine to keep you vibrant and energized. Not only that, dark chocolate is known to improve blood-flow to the brain, helping to calm anxiety, improve concentration, and create the beautiful sensation of bliss and euphoria we love so much. Ultimately, the higher the cocoa content, the more mood-boosting compounds you’ll receive! So go ahead, indulge in your daily dark chocolate fix!
Also see: Eat for happiness