Food Can Affect Your Mood

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Do y’all remember mood rings? They were very popular in the 70’s and 80’s. For those of you who do not know what I am talking about… they are rings with a clear bubble which changed colors, supposedly based on your mood. In reality, they change colors depending on the warmth of your finger.J A warmer finger equaled a positive mood. Purple was the best, but blue and green were ok too. It was fun watching the colors change.

Oh, if only we could just make sure our finger is warm and we would always be very happy. 😀

Actually, we have something better, the Peace of Christ. There is nothing that can take that joy from us unless we let it. God gave us the tools to live the healthiest life. We are mind, body, and spirit interconnected and inseparable. These three aspects must be nourished and strengthened to be at optimum health. Right now, I want to focus on the body and how food affects your mood. Keep in mind that food is one aspect. Our stress level, sleep history, types of social interactions, and movement will also have an impact on our mood.

As a former Diabetes Educator, I helped patients reach healthy glucose levels and they often came off medications for their Type II Diabetes when they made a few dietary changes, increased their movement, and handled stress effectively. I realized that the diabetic diet was indeed very healthy and I started to follow it many years ago.

One aspect to achieving a steady, calm mood is making sure we give our bodies the right fuel in a steady stream throughout the day. It makes sense…if we skip meals, we are more apt to reach for the quick packaged and processed food which is likely high in calories, salt, sugar, unhealthy fat, and chemicals we cannot pronounce. These items should not even be labeled as food. By definition, food is: “Any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink or that plants absorb in order to maintain life and growth.” (Oxford dictionary) The items laden with sugar, salt, trans fat, partially hydrogenated fats, saturated fat are not nutritious nor do they help our life and growth. I realize this sounds extreme, but they should have their own aisle in the grocery store with the poison label alerting customers.

 Also, if we eat at regular times but we are not eating mostly whole foods (food that God created) then we will be impacted negatively. Eating simple carbohydrates without a balance of lean protein and healthy fat at meals/snacks/will cause spikes in our blood sugar and can lead to feeling fatigued, brain fog, headaches, anxious feelings, etc. Unhealthy food/Skipped meals= Unhealthy mood

Besides improving our mood and energy level, eating healthy is going to improve our immune function (something we all could benefit from, especially now) and decrease the likelihood of diseases such as, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes.

I would like you to consider the produce section of your grocery store.

It is stunning! Man cannot create anything that even comes close to God’s beautiful bounty. It reminds me of Functional Medicine Dr. Mark Hyman’s quote, If God made it, eat it. If man made it, leave it.” It is something to think about next time you reach for your food.

Generally speaking, half our plate should be filled with mostly veggies and some fruit, the other half can be a small portion of lean meat, complex carbohydrate, then a very small portion of healthy fat- such avocado, olive oil, nuts, seeds. It is best to eat 3 moderate meals and 2 snacks in between meals.

Allow yourself to have a small treat at special occasions and perhaps 1/week.

Of course, you should check with your doctor for specific nutrition guidelines based on your health history.

The CDC has developed the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists to educate us on which foods we should try to buy organic, and which foods this is not as critical. https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a31916678/dirty-dozen-foods-2020-list/   A picture of men in hazmat suits spraying pesticide on non-organic strawberries was enough to encourage me to purchase organic produce, especially those listed on the Dirty Dozen list.

So, how do you begin and how do you stick with this?

Think about what would motivate you to eat healthier? Perhaps, your doctor has mentioned that your blood glucose, cholesterol, and/or blood pressure are creeping up. You want more energy and you want to feel calm. You want to be there for your children and grandchildren. Now, write it down and include pictures if relevant.

These are all good motivators. Did you ever consider that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;  you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 19-20

We tend to forget that the Holy Spirit- the third person of the Trinity dwells within us. Maybe, it would be helpful if we considered that before we eat. What are the healthiest foods I can provide my body- a temple of the Holy Spirit, so that I can carry out God’s mission for me with the most vigor, joy, and endurance?

Some of our current food choices may be very difficult to give up because studies show that sugary items have an addictive quality. Let’s face it, we are creatures of comfort and habit. Unite this sacrifice with the Cross of Christ and offer it up for the souls in purgatory, those people who need comforting and healing, our country, your family and friends.

Practical tips to achieve your goal of eating more/all whole foods:

1. Do not try to change everything at once- Pick 1 or 2 things and once those have been established, add more. Read your motivation list every day. Include inspiring Bible quotes/Saint quotes.

2. If you do not succeed some days, don’t worry and don’t be hard on yourself, remember that each day is a new beginning. Keep moving forward.

3. Keep unhealthy foods out of the house or at least out of sight.

4. Have positive family and friends join you!

5. Be careful when eating out and traveling

6. Keep healthy snacks (carrot sticks and hummus, few nuts and a little dried fruit, hard- boiled egg and apple slices with you and readily available at home when hunger strikes.

7. When cravings occur, try to have a mug of green tea or peppermint tea which has been shown to help with appetite suppression. Immersing yourself in an activity can also be effective.

8. Most importantly, pray to the Holy Spirit and ask Him to fortify you with the gifts of fortitude, wisdom, and knowledge as well as the fruit of self-control.

This may help you remember…. I love mnemonic devices!

F resh (organic when possible) fuel with 3 healthy meals evenly spaced, 2 snacks in between lunch and dinner, keep nutritious snacks accessible, like carrots and hummus. Food worthy of nourishing a temple of the Holy Spirit. Ask Him for fortitude, wisdom, knowledge, and self-control.

O ne change at a time- Just pick one thing you could eliminate, like potato chips, donuts, soda, or fast food!

O ne day at a time- It’s ok if you miss a day or two, just jump back in the next day, no worries.

D itch the junk- packaged, processed, sugary, salty, fatty foods- high saturated, transfat. Don’t give up.

I promise that eating healthier will make you feel better, strengthen your immunity, and help to prevent many diseases. It is especially effective with consistent movement/exercise. This is just skimming the surface, but I hope you can grab something to help you eat healthier.

You can do it! I am praying for you to have the healthiest, most joyful, and peaceful life in Christ!