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When you’ve had a long day, what is the first thing you tend to grab? No doubt a pint of ice cream or a cheeseburger with fries! That’s because we associate these sorts of food items with comfort. Unfortunately, the very foods we turn to when we’re sad, lonely, depressed, or stressed are the very foods that can prolong or worsen that mood.

“The foods we eat not only affect our mood, but our sleep patterns and our energy levels. And that can impact us throughout the entire day.”

Psychologist Susan Albers, PsyD

How Food Affects Your Mood

When we eat foods that are highly processed or full of sugar, it boosts dopamine in our body, making us feel good…temporarily. Eventually, we crash though, and that pick-me-up lets us down really hard, resulting in even more depression, anxiety, and moodiness. In this way, we become addicted to sugar, because we must continue consuming it in order to maintain that “sugar high.” The American Heart Association says it’s a vicious cycle:

“A cheat meal every now and then can be okay, but if you use food to battle the blues, you’re going to lose the war. Research shows that foods full of fat and sugar only increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety, and that means you’ll only want more sugary junk to fight the new bad mood. This cycle is a feedback loop.”

So, when we’re cranky or stressed, which foods should we avoid? Unfortunately, they’re the same ones we tend to gravitate towards. Cakes, cookies, donuts, ice cream, French fries, chips—these all boost our mood in the moment but are bound to result in a crash later and lead to long-term emotional and mental health problems.

The good news is healthy food can positively affect your mood too! In fact, there are certain foods that release dopamine in the brain the same way those sugar-filled ones do, but without the crash and addictive consequences. Who knew that changing your eating habits could have such a powerful impact on your mental health?

Foods That Boost Your Mood

So what are some mood-boosting foods we can keep stocked and on-hand to eat when our mood tanks? Here are some foods you can eat that can give your brain a healthy boost of dopamine.

Chocolate – Surprised by the first food on our list? Dark chocolate, in moderation, is actually incredibly good for you (three cheers for antioxidants!) and is a great alternative to, say, a pint of ice cream.

Fish – If you’re experiencing a season of depression or irritability, you might be low in Omega-3! Take a proactive approach by incorporating more fish into your diet. Fish is filled with Omega-3 fatty acids, which can keep those bad moods at bay.

Fruit – Have a banana, be happy! Seriously, make sure you always have fruit on hand so that when you’re feeling mopey, you can munch on an apple or orange instead of chowing down on a bag of chips. Your brain, heart, and body will thank you.

Vegetables – Unfortunately, veggies have this stigma attached to them. Doesn’t just the word “vegetables” put you in a bad mood? But maybe you can find a way to snack on them that you like. Remember, veggies don’t have to be a side dish to a meal. For example, baby tomatoes with ranch dressing or some guacamole with multigrain chips are two fun snack options where vegetables are the hero.

While eating these healthy alternatives can give your mood a boost, be sure to consult a mental health professional if depression and anxiety are the norm for you. In this case, a diet change may not be entirely effective, and you don’t want to delay getting the help you need.

Whether you’re trying to shed some pounds or you’re simply trying to eat more wholesome foods, switching up which sauce and salad dressings keep on hand can help you reach your health goals. Let’s look at some alternatives to the sugary, preservative-filled go-to’s most people typically buy.

1.   Homemade Ranch

sauces

Go to your fridge, grab whatever ranch dressing you have on hand, and read the ingredients. Wondering what disodium guanylate and natamycin are? It’s pretty normal for salad dressings to contain ingredients that aren’t good for you like genetically modified ingredients, preservatives, artificial colorings and flavorings, etc. Homemade ranch is far superior to anything you can buy at the store, and it’s so easy to make (not to mention delicious) that it’s a wonder more people don’t make this swap in their diet! Here’s a recipe for ranch from healthline.com that you can make at home with ingredients you probably have on hand already.

Greek Yogurt Ranch

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (285 grams) plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.5 grams) garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.2 grams) onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (0.5 grams) dried dill
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • dash of salt
  • fresh chives, chopped (optional)

Directions

  1. Stir together the Greek yogurt, garlic powder, onion powder, and dried dill.
  2. Add a dash of cayenne pepper and salt.
  3. Garnish with fresh chives before serving (optional).

2.   Avocado Lime Dressing

If you are looking for dressings that that are better for your diet, try avocado-based ones. Avocados are good for your heart, eyes, and bones. This is because they contain critical vitamins including C, E, K, and B6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium, potassium. They also provide lutein, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. Avocados are also rich in healthy fats, which curb snacking and keep your blood sugar levels stable. Check out this avocado lime dressing recipe, courtesy of thespruceeats.com.

Avocado Lime Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon minced shallot, or garlic
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 medium avocado, or 1/2 large
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Fine sea salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Gather the ingredients.
  2. Place the minced shallot (or garlic) in a large salad bowl and add the lime juice.
  3. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, cutting into the avocado until you hit the pit, and cut around, not going through the pit. Twist the 2 halves to pop the avocado apart. Scoop out the flesh from one side into a large salad bowl. If it’s a large avocado, tightly wrap up with other half, with the pit still in it, and reserve it for another use. If it’s a small or medium avocado, remove the pit from the second half and scoop that flesh into the bowl, too.
  4. Using a fork, mash the avocado until as smooth as possible.
  5. Whisk in the oil to create a shiny, thick and creamy dressing.
  6. Stir in the ground cumin. Add salt to taste (don’t hold back here, avocado shines best when properly seasoned).
  7. Serve the dressing with your favorite salad.

3.   Healthier BBQ sauces

When it comes to BBQ sauces, you can either go the homemade route or simply buy a healthier bottled BBQ sauce. Nutritionists say to look for low sodium and low sugar options. Three of the healthiest BBQ sauces, according to my-best.net, are Stubb’s “Original Legendary Bar-B-Q Sauce”, Bone Doctors’s “Carolina Bold Barbecue Sauce”, and Thicker Style Sauce’s “A Thick, Low-Sugar Barbecue Sauce.”

As you can see, healthy doesn’t necessarily mean boring. There are plenty of delicious ways to dress up your salad, tacos, or grilled BBQ dishes with homemade dressings and better-for-you sauces!

Fad diet companies will tell you that eating certain supplements or consuming green tea, hot peppers, and ginger boosts your metabolism. But these empty claims are, more often than not, just money-making schemes. If you really want to boost your metabolism, you should eat foods rich in fiber, try to keep your blood sugar steady, and drink more water. Here’s why.

Foods Rich in Fiber Boost Your Metabolism

Fiber fills you up, so it makes sense that the more you fill up on healthy, fiber-rich foods, the less tempted you’ll be to consume sugary, empty-calorie foods. Additionally, fiber helps move food along through your 6-foot long colon, aiding metabolism. “It takes a lot of energy to push fiber all the way through,” says Dian Griesel, Ph.D., author of TurboCharged: Accelerate your Fat Burning Metabolism, Get Lean Fast and Leave Diet and Exercise Rules in the Dust. “The more your body’s working naturally for you, the more your metabolism’s staying high.”

Foods that Keep Your Blood Sugar Steady Aid Metabolic Health

Keeping your metabolism stable is an important aspect of metabolic health. If chips or sugary granola bars have become your go-to snack, you may be causing your blood sugar to spike and dip throughout the day. This is terrible for your metabolism!

If you want to keep your blood sugar steady, nutritionists recommend reaching for a well-rounded snack of carbs, fat, and protein (yup, all three). Some examples of snacks that keep your blood sugar steady include:

  • Apple slices with nut butter and popcorn
  • Cheese cubes with almonds and dried cranberries
  • Granola with greek yogurt and berries

Mark MacDonald, certified personal trainer and the author of Body Confidence explains, “If your blood sugar surges, your body stores the excess sugar as fat. If it dips, your body thinks it’s in starvation mode and burns muscle. And the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolism.” Avoiding surges and dips in your blood sugar is key to keeping your metabolism stable.

Water Boosts Your Metabolism

Last but not least, if you want to give your metabolism a boost, try upping your water intake. Studies show that staying hydrated helps your body burn calories and gives even your resting metabolism a boost. There are countless benefits to drinking water beyond boosting your metabolism, though, and it’s a well-known fact that staying hydrated is critical to good health, whether you’re trying to give your metabolism a boost or not.

Being mindful of what you’re putting into your body is a great starting point for a healthy metabolism.

A limited income might make it difficult to afford to eat healthily, even if you have a good understanding of eating a balanced diet. The fact is that supply chain concerns are placing pressure on food production, resulting in the rising cost of staple healthy foods globally.

For this reason, the ability of breadwinners to provide healthy meals for their families is becoming a challenge. This has been the case, especially since the COVID 19 pandemic, with more people having to work from home. However, there are a variety of reasonably priced foods that are both nutritious and simple to include in your daily diet.

Beans

Beans have plenty of nutritional value, regardless of whether they are canned or dried. They’re high in protein and minerals like iron and zinc and are easily affordable. However, canned beans contain a lot of salt, hence the need to rinse them properly before eating.

While dry beans are less expensive than canned beans, the latter option is still more cost-effective. You also save time and energy costs by preparing dried beans.

Eggs

Eggs are not only nutritious but are also pocket-friendly, with a dozen averaging $2. They are rich in proteins and antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory qualities.

Moreover, the antioxidant properties help fight free radicals that we inhale or consume daily. Eggs are also rich sources of choline, which is a vitamin that has been linked to improved brain function. Including eggs in your diet daily is simple. Even better, they are delicious and pair well with practically any meal.

Grains

Whole grains, such as brown rice and oat, are simple to cook and are way cheaper than processed cereals. They are also rich in nutrients like B-vitamins and minerals, including iron, phosphorous and magnesium.

Green Leafy Vegetables Like Spinach

Healthy Foods

Spinach is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and it’s always reasonably priced, costing roughly $2 for a bag of nine ounces (255 grams) in most supermarkets.

One of the vitamins available in spinach is vitamin K, which helps in reducing incidences of heart disease and cancer. Additionally, this vitamin promotes bone health. Other nutrients and minerals include vitamin A, C, folate, and manganese, which support the immune system.

Bananas

Bananas are affordable fruits with high nutritional value. They are rich in vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese, which are very beneficial for the body. They are also good sources of fiber, which may help with digestion and weight reduction.

Potatoes

Potatoes are a must-have in every home. Their versatility and low price make them an excellent choice, especially if you have a tight budget. In terms of nutritional value, potatoes contain potassium, a crucial mineral in many bodily processes, including body fluid balance and muscular contractions.

Canned Tuna

Canned tuna is an excellent option for people wishing to get the nutritional benefits of fish while on a budget limitation. Tuna is a fantastic source of protein, and omega-3 fatty acids, which help in brain growth and development. Mixing canned tuna with pasta is a great way to make a quick and filling meal.

Dried lentils

A cup of lentils has a considerable quantity of minerals, including folate, iron, copper, and manganese. They also have a high protein and fiber content, contributing to effective weight control. Cooking with lentils can result in delicious vegetarian burgers, soups, and stews.

Quinoa

Quinoa is easily affordable as it costs as low as $3 a pound, which is a great deal, considering it’s nutrient-dense. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the necessary amino acids. It’s simple to make, and you can eat it on its own or with salads and other foods.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are good sources of beta-carotene, a type of vitamin A. One sweet potato provides over 369% of the daily nutrient requirement. As a result, it is one of the most potent sources of the vitamin. Moreover, they are easy to prepare and can pair with any meal, helping you save time and money.

If you don’t have time to prepare the ingredients listed above, a meal prep service may be the affordable solution you are looking for!

Exercise, in moderation, is important for diabetics. This is because it helps them control their weight, lower bad cholesterol, boost the body’s sensitivity to insulin, and strengthen the muscles and bones, all while reducing anxiety to improve general health. To make sure that you don’t develop hypoglycemia after a workout session, use the three tips below.

Test Your Sugar and Eat Healthy Meals or Snacks

This is an important tip as it will give you a clear picture of what to change, if anything. If your levels are between 100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL, you’re generally going to be okay. If the level falls below 100 mg/dL, you need to first have a snack, especially if you’re planning on having a workout that will last two or more hours. In this case, don’t start your session until the reading gets to 100 mg/dL.

If the levels are higher than 250 mg/dL, check if there are ketones in your urine. If there are any, it means that your body is burning fat rather than sugar for fuel. Don’t exercise if you have ketones, as this could cause your blood sugar to spike and give you serious issues. If you intend to exercise for more than two hours, check your levels once after every hour during the workout. Whenever the levels fall, stop and eat a nutritious snack to ensure that your blood sugar stays within the right levels.

Talk to Your Doctor

Diabetics

Another important tip you should follow is to talk to your doctor. Let them know what your intentions are and listen to their advice. If they tell you that it’s not the right time for you to start exercising or that you need to take it slow, listen to them. They know what’s best and are well aware of the risks that you may be putting yourself in with different exercise degrees and techniques. Your doctor will be able to let you know if you need to adjust your medicines, insulin, or meals, and help you to prepare your body for the workout. They will also tell you what time of day will be best for you to exercise.

Go With a Friend

Finally, try to find an exercise partner with whom you can go to your workouts. It’s best to go with someone who knows that you have diabetes, and also knows what to do in case your blood sugar goes too low. The workout will be a lot more fun and productive for both of you, and you will know that your safety is assured, at least to some degree. Don’t forget to carry a card that says you have diabetes or wear a medical identification tag. These extra measures will make it easy for you to get help from the public in case anything gets out of hand.

With these three tips, you’re ready to start working out in a safe way. A good, healthy meal can make a big difference to your blood sugar levels when you’re working out, as evidenced in the first tip.

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Blood pressure is the amount of force exerted by blood on the walls of the vessels in the body. This happens as the heart pumps blood to various body organs. When this pressure is too high, it is called hypertension or high blood pressure and can result from several factors. Failure to attend to it promptly and appropriately may result in serious health issues like heart diseases, stroke, and even death.

Usually, doctors prescribe blood pressure-lowering medications, such as angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. However, changing one’s way of life, especially eating habits, may help control the pressure levels. This involves eating a well-balanced, heart-healthy meal, including reducing sodium intake.

What Foods Can You Eat?

Individuals with high blood pressure must eat food containing minerals such as potassium, magnesium, and calcium. These minerals may regulate blood pressure and lower it by up to 11 mm Hg. This approach is recommended by the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).

Why Does Your Meal Need to Be Rich in Greens?

Blood Pressure

Too much sodium in the body results in excessive fluid retention. As a result, your blood volume hikes up while increasing the pressure on the arteries. However, potassium intake helps correct this issue, and the mineral can be found in greens and leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and kale.

Ensure you take them in large quantities as the potassium aids in the removal of sodium from your body through your urine. Consequently, your blood vessel walls relax, lowering blood pressure.

How Can You Further Reduce Sodium Intake?

The best way to achieve this goal is to reduce the intake of meals containing sodium. As a general rule, sodium intake should be kept to no more than 2,300 mg per day. However, less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day is preferable for individuals with high blood pressure.

Eliminate Consumption of Processed Foods

Most natural foods have a recommended amount of sodium. However, the majority of processed meals have very high amounts that may be detrimental to the health of a person suffering from hypertension. These foods include canned meat, sausages, and ham, among others.

Read Labels Before Purchasing

This will help you know the ingredients used to make the food you are about to purchase. Try to find low-sodium substitutes instead of buying high-sodium foods.

Avoid Adding Salt to Your Food

A single teaspoon of salt has 2,300 milligrams of sodium. Instead of salt, opt for natural herbs and spices to enhance the taste of your meal.

Why Is Calcium Intake Important in Regulating High Blood Pressure?

Calcium consumption lowers blood pressure in two ways. First, a recommended amount of calcium in the blood tightens and relaxes the blood vessels, also known as vasoconstriction. It also raises the vascular volume via the renin-angiotensin-aldosterone system. Some of the calcium-rich meals that you can take include:

  • Yogurt
  • Milk
  • Green vegetables
  • Almond

What Should Your Diet Look Like When Battling Hypertension?

The DASH diet has some dietary objectives that you should incorporate into your daily diet. Below are the recommended guidelines that will effectively lower your blood pressure levels.

  • Take vegetables and fruits daily.
  • Include grains in your meals regularly, preferably cereals such as green grams.
  • Incorporate nuts and legumes into your diet on a weekly basis.
  • Minimize intake of high-fat dairy products. Only take milk and cheese two or three times a day.
  • Take proteins, including lean meat and fish.

Alternatively, you can order readily prepared meals from service providers like Fit Five Meals, who help you save time by delivering meals with nutritional value at your doorstep.

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