Eating healthy often seems like a chore. We view it in terms of what we CAN’T do. We can’t eat donuts. Can’t eat chocolate. Can’t eat a juicy Big Mac. When we think in terms of “can’t,” it’s easy to get a little rebellious–we are human after all. Plus, we have to think about what motivates us to eat healthily. Is it an upcoming wedding? Bikini season? Or for the benefit of your family? While many of us struggle to stay motivated when it comes to eating healthy, there’s more than the physical benefits to keep you on track. Yes, we’re talking about psychological benefits. Eating healthy is proven to put people in a better mood, along with a host of other positives. So, let’s dig into just some of the reasons why eating healthy makes your mood better!
Reason #1: Boosts Brain Function
It’s easy to forget that your brain needs food too. Literally, it needs carbs to function! When you choose the right carbs, your brain gets quite the boost. Now, it does matter where you get your carbs. Processed foods, like white bread and white pasta, are usually loaded with sugar. Whole grains, rice, granola, and unprocessed oats are the perfect balance of fuel and nutrition for your brain.
Even fruits and vegetables, which are usually high in carbohydrates, are great brain boosters. Leafy greens are rich in magnesium, which increases blood flow to the brain. Oranges contain high levels of flavonoids, which are related to improved memory and cognition.
Reason #2: Relieves Stress
How often do we turn to food as a stress reliever? It’s easy to seek comfort in food and eat to help you cope with emotions. A bad day at work, kids acting up, and just life, in general, put major stress on our minds and bodies. Instead of filling up on junk that will only make you feel worse, why not reach for something that relieves stress?
Tea is a great alternative to soda, and its soothing effects combat a number of ailments–from cramps to restlessness. Black, green, white, and red teas are full of antioxidants that help rid your body of toxins. Looking for something with more substance? Beans and lentils are high in magnesium, a mineral that helps provide relaxation and calm.
Turning to healthier options like tea when you’re stressed will only help decrease what your body and mind are dealing with. Instead of eating something that will only stress your body more, eating healthy will help put your mind and body at ease.
Reason #3: Combats Depression
Whether you eat when you’re depressed or starve yourself, neither is healthy. Your body needs fuel to keep that metabolism running. If you overeat, your body will just store those extra calories as fat. Eating the right foods can help with depression and improve your overall mood. Asparagus is incredibly high in folate, and studies have shown people with low folate in their bodies are more prone to depression.
Now, eating asparagus isn’t a cure-all for depression, but incorporating healthy foods like it into your diet, can help put you into a better mood.
Reason #4: Alleviates Pain
Most people deal with some form of pain. Knee pain, neck pain, back pain… all things we have to suffer through. Pain can put anyone in a bad mood. A sudden twinge in your neck can have you in a poor mood for days if it’s not taken care of. Inflammation is a large cause of pain for most, but there’s more to wellness than RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation).
Turmeric and ginger are easy and flavorful additions to your diet that can help mitigate pain and reduce inflammation, even in patients with arthritis. Another powerhouse food for pain is salmon. Not only is salmon rich in omega 3 fatty acids that support healthy brain function, but those same omega 3 fatty acids are also loaded with anti-inflammatory agents that can relieve joint pain, promoting a more active lifestyle.
Reason #5: Encourages A Healthy Lifestyle
You are what you eat, and food has the power to dictate a lot of things in our lives. This is perhaps the best benefit of a healthy diet: a healthy and balanced lifestyle. If you’re eating well and clean, chances are, that a healthy relationship with food will translate to other areas of your life. A good diet can help get (and keep) you on a healthy exercise track and give you more confidence. Plus, eating healthy doesn’t have to take forever. There are plenty of portable blender that help you make meals faster.
Food is fickle, and sometimes we struggle. But knowing the positives of eating healthy will help keep you on track. So, whether you’re just starting your journey or are a seasoned pro, learning the benefits of eating healthy can help you improve your lifestyle and overall mood.
Bio: Katie Tejada is a writer, editor, and former HR professional. She enjoys writing about events, travel, decorating trends, and innovations for the home, but also covers developments in HR, business communication, recruiting, real estate, finance, law, and investing.