A delightfully toasted sesame seed bagel. Crispy, crunchy potato chips. An effervescent fountain of sweet soda. These all sound like comforting foods that can wrap you in a sensation of coziness. However, while they may taste so good, these foods are not always so good for you or your mood.
If a bad day at the office has you ripping open a bag of potato chips and plopping on the couch with an ice cold soda, you may want to rethink that strategy. These seven foods can destroy your mood, taking you from good to bad – or even bad to worse.
1. Potato chips
Potato chips are a household staple in America. They are the side to every sandwich and the perfect chip to dip for football parties and barbeques. However, this party food can take your happiness quotient down a notch or two.
Potato chips are potatoes fried in oils rich in omega-6 fatty acids that can block mood-enhancing omega-3 fatty acids. If you really want that crunch, try substituting almonds, which have been shown to deliver a calming sensation.
It’s no secret that soda is bad for you, but if you run to this beverage for comfort, you may experience a little less than happiness. The initial sugar rush will give you a quick “high,” but soon after, your mood will plummet as your blood sugar levels come crashing down.
If you crave that soda sensation, try flavored carbonated water or add a squeeze of your favorite citrus fruit to a glass of club soda.
Margarines are made of inflammation-promoting, industrial fats that are harmful. Much like fried potato chips, the high levels of omega-6 fatty acids could tamper with your mood and healthy insulin levels.
Natural is always a better choice than fake when it comes to healthy eating. If you must use butter, use the real thing, but in very moderate portions. Choosing healthy oils, like olive or coconut oil, are even better. Not only are they natural, you get a healthy dose of monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3s.
4. Agave nectar
In recent years there has been a lot of hype surrounding agave nectar as a better choice for sweetening coffee, teas and generally replacing alternative sweeteners and sugar – because it is all-natural. Unfortunately, just like honey, it is loaded with concentrated levels of fructose. It may be all-natural, but too much can lead to insulin resistance, excess weight gain and mood instability. Excess sugar consumption, in all its forms, can cause peaks and valleys in blood sugar levels, which directly affect your mood.
For a brief era, bagels gained a reputation for being a healthy food. Many people still believe this misconception and start their morning with a plump bagel smothered in cream cheese or butter. With or without the spreads, bagels are not a healthy choice and will virtually guarantee an energy crash long before lunch time.
Bagels are a stealthy source of refined carbohydrates, and even the average 4-ounce whole wheat bagel racks up nearly 400 calories without butter or cream cheese. For a powerful, mood-boosting breakfast, choose half a whole-wheat English muffin with egg, which will deliver fiber, B vitamins and zinc.
Packaged, salted peanuts commonly served in bars, at parties and during baseball games are high in sodium and contain processed food additives, including monosodium glutamate (MSG) – an artificial flavoring linked to migraines, weakness, burning sensations, wheezing and difficulty breathing in some individuals. Symptoms like these can definitely cost you a good mood. Instead of peanuts, make a mix of nuts that are rich in antioxidants, nutritious minerals and omega-3s, such as walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts.
7. Sweet potato casserole
Much like bagels, sweet potatoes have earned that “health food” reputation. A plain baked sweet potato in appropriate portions is a better choice than a white russet potato. However, the sweet potato’s role in marshmallow casseroles and candied homemade dishes is very, very bad for your health and your mood. All that sugary sweetness can make your blood sugar levels soar, raise your blood pressure and increase your risk of depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
A better choice for stable blood sugar levels is vegetables, like carrots, radishes and cucumbers – complex carbohydrates with fiber and rich in a wide variety of vitamins and minerals.
There is a running theme among the foods that wreck your mood – unstable blood sugar levels and the build-up of toxins in your body. To keep your health and your mood in check, choose all-natural, whole foods rich in fiber and with little or no sugar content – and remember, portion size matters too.
Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation's largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of "The Sex Drive Solution for Women." Learn more about her programs at www.jenlandamd.com.