NEW YEAR spells new bellies, bums and bulges. Bringing with them fresh diet plans, for millions of us. However, if boosting your mood – as well as maximising weight loss – is your goal, make these tweaks to your diet. My 2018 goal is to feel better as well as slimmer.
With what is supposedly the most depressing day of the year, ‘blue Monday’, occurring on 15th January, some preparatory tweaks to your diet to boost your mood are surely worthwhile. Here are some easy tweaks to your diet to brighten up January.
Balance blood sugar
Swap white bread and chocolate for protein-rich beans and pulses, fibre-packed wholegrains and essential fat-rich oily fish.
White refined carbohydrates and sugary foods are absorbed quickly into the blood stream. This may cause an initial ‘high’ or surge of energy, but it soon wears off. A blood sugar ‘high’ is often followed by a blood sugar ‘crash’, leaving us feeling tired and low.
To balance blood sugar, include protein, fibre and healthy fats into each meal and snack. All three components help to slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream.
Don’t skip meals
Missing out on meals will not only hinder your weight loss efforts by putting your body into ‘starvation’ mode, but it won’t make you feel good either.
Ensure that you eat at least three meals a day.
Skipping meals can lead to low blood sugar, causing low mood, anxiety, irritability and fatigue.
Don’t skimp on omega 3 fats
With 60 per cent of the brain made up of fat, it is important to consume enough of it.
Most of the fats in the brain are similar to essential fats called Omega 3s, found in eggs, oily fish and seeds such as chia.
Additionally, eating enough of these ‘good’ fats – found in salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines anchovies and seeds -could help stave off dementia.
Don’t fear carbs
While many weight loss diets advise culling carbs, they are actually crucial for your mood – just eat the right type.
Instead of white bread and white pasta, eat wholegrain bread, wholegrain pasta, brown rice, oats, white or sweet potato with the skin, quinoa, buckwheat, beans, lentils, chickpeas, vegetables and fruit.
Top up on vitamin B6
A lack of B6 could be a reason if you’re feeling down.
Low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with symptoms of depression as well as PMS and mood swings.
Marmite, more beans, nuts, legumes, eggs, meats, fish, whole grains, bananas, and fortified breads and cereals are the best.
Do ‘Dry January’
Whilst in moderation it is absolutely fine, we have to remember that alcohol has a depressant effect on the brain that can result in rapid worsening of our mood.
Don’t overdo the caffeine
Going back to work makes it tempting to fuel up on coffee, but doing so could make you feel more anxious.
If you notice that caffeine makes you feel jittery or anxious it may be time to cut back. Although caffeine is fine in moderation, people’s sensitivity to the stuff can vary greatly.
Get more vitamin D
The winter months can leave you low in the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and this can have an effect on how you feel.
As well as taking a supplement, you can top up by eating more oily fish and egg yolks too. Get outside for at least 20 minutes a day.
Overall, the key is to lower your calories to under 1000 a day, as well as frequently trying to burn at least 500. Do this for four weeks and I can almost guarantee that you’ll drop a size or two.