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The Food and Mood Connection

By Amita Gadre Kelkar

A typical rushed Monday morning: You get up late, skip breakfast, rush to work, down 2-3 cups of coffee, have a late lunch, gulp chips or biscuits with more coffee, get home totally drained and in a mood that could make anyone feel weary of you.

A happy energetic Monday morning: Get up early, exercise, have a balanced and tasty breakfast, a cup of coffee at work, snack on some nuts, have a healthy lunch, snack on a fruit and have some tea, cook up a yummy but tasty dinner and sleep on time with the satisfaction of a day well spent.

You already know what an ideal day should be like. But how many of us manage to stick to it? What can be done to boost energy and mood through the day so that one isn’t at the crabbiest best or completely exhausted at the end of the day? Try these tips:

  • Smart carbs at breakfast. Clichéd as it might may sound, a hearty breakfast of whole grains, a lean protein (eggs), some good fats and fresh produce has been proven time and again to do wonders to your energy levels. No point avoiding carbohydrates, as whole grains and cereal products contain tryptophan, which produces a good-mood chemical (serotonin) in the body. So tuck into that poha, muesli, whole grain toast or paratha.

  • The Omega-3 factor. What is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids? Fish. Walnuts and flaxseeds are also good vegetarian sources of the same. In fact, one teaspoon of flaxseeds consumed per day goes a long way in keeping you and your body happy. If your diet consists of all three – fish, walnuts and flaxseeds, you are well protected against depression.

  • A Dose of Vitamin D. There are two ways of getting Vitamin D. Get out in the sun, preferably early in the morning (to avoid UV ray damage to your skin). Your body produces vitamin D from the sunlight that it is exposed to through your skin. Or else, consume more seafood (salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines), egg yolks, milk products fortified with Vitamin D or fortified breakfast cereals. Vitamin D is known to affect serotonin levels in the body.

  • Nuts about you. Cashew, Almond and hazelnut are good sources of proteins and magnesium. Magnesium plays a key role in energy management from the sugar that we consume every day. If you are low on magnesium, you will feel low and lethargic.

  • Don’t Miss Folic Acid and Vitamin B 12. Vitamin B 12 is the new Omega-3, these days. Almost every other person is diagnosed with a B-12 deficiency and ends up taking supplements or injections. Why? Because our diet is seriously deficient in green leafy vegetables, dairy products and lean meat. Another resultant deficiency is that of folic acid (found in fresh produce, whole grains and dairy products). Heard of the Mediterranean diet and its benefits? It is replete with B complex vitamins and B-12.

  • Get a Caffeine High. Drinking a cup of tea is a worldwide practice to rejuvenate oneself. The caffeine that one gets from tea (much less than that in coffee) helps lift the mood. The flavonoids also have other protective health benefits. Have a cuppa!

  • Water, water everywhere? This might seem simple but is often the most difficult components to manage, especially when you are rushing to meet a deadline or running after a toddler. An easy way to monitor your daily water intake is to keep two separate one litre bottles for yourself. Once you finish those, you know you are halfway done. For the other half, eat as much fresh fruit as you can and drink up unsweetened naturally sweet drinks like coconut water, fresh juices or even chhaas or nimbu paani.

Apart from foods, one can’t skip exercise. Even a regular 20 minutes every day will keep you energised through the day. It will also help you to regulate your body weight as studies show that people who steadily lose weight over time feel more energetic than crash dieters. These seven may not be secrets, but are a must to keep you in high spirits at the beginning and end of every day!

Amita Gadre Kelkar is a nutritionist, foodie, blogger and mum. Apart from planning diets, she loves to experiment with healthier food options. www.healthyfeasts.wordpress.comMain photo courtesy: ////

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