Did you know that around 70% of ‘emotional eating’ comes from negative emotions, such as trauma, stress, anxiety, depression & low self-esteem?

A survey of 9000 adults conducted at the Seattle’s Group Health Cooperative showed that people who are obese are 25% more likely to have mood & anxiety disorders & that people who overeat for these reasons may find themselves caught in a vicious cycle. They overeat because they feel bad & then they feel bad because they overeat.

Our brains are hardwired for rewards & this can cause addiction. People can become addicted to various things from watching too much TV, too much social media & even healthy behaviors like exercise. Sugar & fat trigger similar hormones than drugs & can be more addicted than cocaine. Some people get a more intense feeling after eating fat & sugar than others, more so when they are under stress or dealing with emotional trauma. Interestingly, the survey reported obese people are 25% less likely to abuse other substances, such as alcohol & illegal drugs, than non-obese people. This enforces the likelihood that some people use food to cope.

Try these 5 power foods to help improve your mood whether you are an emotional eater or not, you will feel great & who doesn’t want those happy hormones unleashed…!?

1. Anything green
From spinach, to kale, to microgreens, to herbs, to avocado, to broccoli, these superfoods contain a significant amount of vitamins & is an excellent source of folic acid. These nutrients releases serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ hormone, if you don’t like the taste, add it to your smoothies!

2. Oats
Researcher has proven, that when you stop eating carbohydrates, your brain stops regulating serotonin, however, highly processed carbohydrates (ie white bread) cause rapid changes in your blood sugar levels & can result in mood swings. High fiber carbs like oats stabilize blood sugar & take longer to digest, making you feel fuller for longer.
Alternatives: Carbs in general make people feel good, stick with whole grains for maximum health benefits.

3. Foods with Vitamin D
Getting your daily dose of vitamin D is critical for your mood. Low vitamin D levels are linked to depression & other mood disorders. Get this from getting direct exposure to the sun for 10 – 20 minutes daily.
For dietary sources of vitamin D: Almond milk, oats, fortified tofu, fresh orange juice, wild salmon & canned fish.

4. Bananas
Bananas contain an amino acid called tryptophan. Your body uses tryptophan to produce 5-HTP, the compound that makes serotonin & melatonin, 2 mood and sleep-regulating hormones. Bananas also contain magnesium, which further increases sleepiness, making them a great bedtime or midnight snack.

5. Dark Chocolate
Like spinach, eating chocolate releases serotonin. However, chocolate has an additional benefit. It promotes relaxation through the release of endorphins. Endorphins are “feel good” chemicals also produced after hard, aerobic exercise. Chocolate may improve blood flow to the heart & brain, thus improving concentration, due to the antioxidants it contains. Go for dark chocolate as it contains less sugar and more cacao (another superfood)
Tip: The best way to have a piece of chocolate is to enjoy the experience. Slowly open the wrapper & eat it slowly, savoring the flavor and subsequent mood boost. Mindful eating makes you enjoy food more & it helps with digestion.

Don’t we all want to feel our best? And if food can help with this, why not make a few slight changes to your diet, your body & mind will love you for it!