2011, the dreaded ‘off year’, involved quite a bit of emotional upheaval for me. when chronic fatigue came along at the end of it all (because every cake needs some icing), my emotional centre decided to shut itself down for a while and i went through a few months of feeling pretty ‘blah’ (there’s just no other way to describe it). i wasn’t necessarily unhappy but i definitely wasn’t happy. being a naturally over-excited, hyperactive, happy person, it was incredibly unsettling and unpleasant to feel so flat and emotionless. so i did a bit (actually, a lot) of research about emotions and moods and discovered a wealth of information about the impact that food has on your body. of course food isn’t the complete key to happiness but you can’t underestimate the power of what you put in your body over what your body puts out for you. it’s surprising how much we overlook the simple fact that food is our fuel, so if you aren’t eating well you can’t expect to feel too well. one part of my new year’s resolution to make 2012 about the good life involves being healthy and fit, so it made sense to have a look at what i was eating. i discovered a list of ‘superfoods‘ that can do the body and soul a world of good and have since been making every effort to work them into my diet. so far i’m feeling absolutely amazing – it was as if i woke up one day and couldn’t feel anything but happy. so i thought i’d pass my list on. there’s a heap of scientific detail about the way these foods work their magic, but i will spare you most of it since we’re all about the bottom line these days. you can do more research if you want to know more. here are 10 of my faves:
1. omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, eggs, etc.) – these are ‘good’ fats that cushion your brain cells and are great for brain function, moods and memory
2. nuts – nuts also provide a great source of essential fats. walnuts have the highest levels (also try ground flaxseeds), which are excellent for improving cell health.
3. leafy greens (swiss chard, spinach, etc.) – swiss chard is packed with magnesium (which combats stress and aids in sleep) and spinach is full of antioxidants (which protect the body from free radicals that drain energy and dampen your mood). spinach also boosts folic acid, a B vitamin strongly linked with preventing depression and reducing fatigue.
4. berries (which i love anyway = win) – blueberries in particular are full of antioxidants that keep your neural pathways running smoothly promoting positive energy. since they get pretty expensive (particularly given how many i eat), try frozen packs – frozen berries with yoghurt are delicious!
5. cherries – these also have a heap of antioxidants but are particularly good for producing melatonin, which helps your sleep function. good sleep is an essential key to good moods.
6. milk products – milk products are rich in vitamin D, which can increase serotonin production and has been linked to reducing depression in some people.
7. wholegrains – low GI carbohydrates are great for regulating blood glucose levels, which help maintain our energy levels as well as our moods.
8. turkey – turkey is full of tryptophan, an amino acid that the body uses to create mood-regulating serotonin and melatonin. pineapple, cottage cheese, or lobster are also good for this.
9. bananas – besides being a potassium powerhouse, eating bananas also adds a hefty amount of tryptophan to our diets.
10. dark chocolate – dark chocolate contains high amounts of antioxidant molecules and can help in boosting your mood. the lindt intense selection is one of my favourites – passionfruit and almond is the flavour of the month!