How are you feeling today? Healthy and strong? Happy? Or tired, overwhelm, and a bit irritated? We all have down days, but what do you do when negative feelings take a hold of you? Have you tried adjusting sleeping patterns and exercising more consistently to try and help with the ups and downs? Those may help, but it’s likely that they didn’t fully adjust your mood.

You may be overlooking one major factor. How and what you eat can have a significant impact on your mood each day.  You may be so busy during the day that you turn to high-sugar foods to “comfort” yourself. I’ve been there! Yet, by turning to high-sugar foods, you can be doing more harm than good.

Adjusting from a cranky mood to a cheerful one is actually more about what you feed your body than anything else. By making wise, healthy food choices, you can expect your mood to improve almost immediately.

Food strategies to heighten your positive feelings:

1. Cut the sugar. Be warned. Sugar is the enemy of stable, positive moods! You’ll almost always get a rush from a sugar binge. Then you can almost always count on the crash that comes when it hits your blood stream!

• Sugar sometimes helps when there are other factors affecting your energy level, but avoid turning to it as your source of energy.

• Remember that sugary foods have other negative effects apart from the crash. Excess sugar is stored in your body and puts you at risk for weight gain, skin reactions, and even diabetes.

2. Increase intake of nutrient-rich foods. While many nutrient-rich foods might not be as “exciting” as sugar, they’re better for you. They help your bodily functions perform optimally and actually elevate your mood.

•Folate, thiamine, and magnesium are believed to heighten your mood. Research has shown that these minerals positively impact those with depression.

•Although you may not be suffering from depression, you can likely expect the minerals to work wonders for your mood over time.

•Choose foods like lentils, leafy greens, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds as great sources of these minerals.

3. Eat smaller, more frequent meals. Try eating several smaller meals throughout the day. It might take more effort to have five meals instead of three, but your results will make your effort worthwhile.

•Larger meals are harder for your body to process. Your metabolism slows down after consumption of a large meal. As a result, you’ll likely feel sluggish.

•Sluggishness doesn’t always lead to a bad mood. But lacking the energy to be productive can result in a negative outcome. That can, in turn, affect your mood!

4. Stay hydrated. You’ve heard lots of stories about water doing wonders for your body, but did you know that lack of enough water also affects your mood? Believe it or not, water may be the key to addressing that lingering bad mood you’ve been in.

• Neglecting to stay hydrated daily can lead to uncomfortable side effects. In most cases, a mildly dehydrated person experiences headaches, fatigue, tension, and anxiety.

• These things definitely affect your mood, and you’ll quickly become the person nobody wants to be around!

• Dehydration also impacts concentration, reasoning, and alertness. It’s very easy to get frustrated with yourself when you’re far from being on the ball.

5. Move yourself! Even though this information is focused on what you eat, movement does also play a part. You don’t have to run a marathon to feel better. Moving in any way can shift your mood. Remember a time when you were feeling down and an upbeat song comes on the radio. You start moving and dancing. You start to feel better. Keep tunes on your iPod or MP3 that make you feel good. If you hit a slump, crank up the tunes, and dance, or just walk around the block (or even the office or your house). It makes a huge difference!

If you weren’t aware of the impact these strategies have on your mood, remember that so many functions of your body are directly connected to what you put into your body! Give your body healthy, whole real foods so it has the best chance to keep you in a positive state of mind!

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