Foodie Moody Blues

Can food affect your mood? The answer is yes. To know what, why and how, read further.

By Avanika Mote

They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body
They might tickle your taste buds but damage your mood and body

Last year I drove into the Aundh outlet of McDonalds and drove out with a McMeal. It had a soda, a burger and a pack of fries. Just one of those days you don’t want to cook. The day was tiring as I didn’t want to write a thing on technology. All I looked forward to was a ready-to-eat meal and an episode of The Big Bang Theory to make me feel like it’s a great evening. Once in a while it’s okay to indulge in atrocious food habits. Especially on a Thursday evening. I peeled the paper cover off the burger, put a straw inside my Coke and squeezed some ketchup for the fries while searching for Z-Cafe on my TataSky. Multi-tasking comes handy when there’s a burger to look forward to. It’s also a prep to eat all things inside one burger in a bite. It isn’t easy with burgers, with the mayo dripping and the remote in your other hand.

While Sheldon Cooper was doing what he does the best – turning lame into a verb that creates LOLs – the whole burger-and-Big Bang concept was not working out for me. My funny bone would not tickle. I was starting to feel irritated, though the Coke tried its best to calm my throat. When the meal was over, I started to feel worse than before. And then I was just a phone call away from two pints of beer. This was the last ray of sheer optimism to make my evening great. And Google calls it the ‘junk food blues’. You need to understand that it could happen to you too. Since information is power, it is good to know what junk does to your psyche. So, here are the top five foods that can give you the blues.

JUNK FOOD: 51% likely to depress you
According to a 2012 study carried out by Public Health Nutrition, people who consume fast foods like burgers and pizzas are 51% more likely to develop depression than their counterparts who don’t. Foods cooked in hydrogenated oils contain trans fats which is a great recipe for depression. Staying away from hamburgers, fried cheese sticks, fried calamari and French fries is a wiser thing to do than having to take pills later.

ARTIFICIAL SWEETNERS: Makes you crave for carbs
Aspartame is an ingredient in artificial sweeteners and diabetic products. This is bad news for people prone to depression.  Aspartame does the job of blocking the production of neurotransmitter serotonin causing headaches, sudden mood dips and insomnia. In fact, artificial sweeteners make you crave for more carbohydrates and end up making you fat. They also affects your memory.

SOFT DRINKS: Degrades your natural joy
That bottle of Diet Coke you may be sipping on an afternoon shopping spree may give you an instant rush. But have you ever tried to find out how it affects your mood? According to Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, women who consume soft drinks as a regular part of their diet are likely to experience higher rates of depression. Drinks with high fructose content lead to fructose malabsorption. It corresponds to depression because fructose reacts chemically with tryptophan – the amino acid precursor to the ‘happiness chemical’ serotonin. The sugars degrade tryptophan so there’s barely any left to be absorbed into the body. The doorway to common depression is here.

ALCOHOL: The liquid depressant
Sure, they say that the problem with people is that everyone is a few drinks behind. But no matter how alcohol makes your Friday evening ‘perfect’, it is eventually a central nervous system depressant. The central nervous system is responsible for taking information from the five senses, motor function, thinking, reasoning and understanding. It also controls human emotions. Regular or excessive consumption of alcohol slows these processes down. This aggravates the symptoms of depression.    

CAFFEINE: Sleepless in Seattle and everywhere
Now, coffee lovers would find this hard to digest. As much as we’d like to start our day with a fresh brew, even a modest amount of caffeine can cause depression and anxiety. Yes, it’s true that caffeine wakes you up every morning more than your alarms do, but it is also true that it affects your sleep and the ability to stay asleep. Too much caffeine in the system can cause serious sleep disorders. This affects moods, causes agitation and nervousness. Energy drinks contain the amount of caffeine that is there in 14 cans of soda! So, just imagine the damage it causes.

An average burger has 500 calories. It takes about an hour of running to burn it. That’s around 5-6 kilometres if you are not a regular runner.

Include dark cocoa chocolate, nuts and seeds in your diet. They are known to be mood uplifters as they increase the production of serotonin and have several other nutritional benefits too. Omega-3 fatty acids, fish and eggs are also great for reducing the symptoms of depression. Vitamins like B12 found in egg yolk and fish improve neural function. Green tea stimulates alpha brain waves and is known to have a calming effect on your body.

Although these foods can cause mood change, eating a burger once in a while or consuming alcohol and coffee in moderation is alright. If you can balance it well with foods like egg yolk, fish or nuts and seeds, you can enjoy the experience of a coffee without having to feel depressed later. Moderation is the keyword.

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