We’ve all heard of comfort foods, but have you heard of happy foods? Comfort foods are associated with a sense of nostalgia or hold sentimental value, are often high in calories, fat or sugar, and provide contentment or joy when eaten. Happy foods, on the other hand, might not give you that instant gratification, but they do help stabilize your mood and keep you feeling happy for longer.
Matthew Fourman, MD, FACS, FASMBS, a bariatric surgeon with ProMedica Physicians, shares types of foods that can boost your mood and food to stay away from to avoid a slump.
“Focus on foods that have a low glycemic index. These types of foods have a minimal effect on your blood sugar, which will keep you from feeling lethargic after eating and will help stabilize your mood,” Dr. Fourman shares. Examples of low glycemic index foods include:
- Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey and fish.
- Fruits such as apples, strawberries and pears.
- Vegetables, especially those that are green and leafy.
- Whole grains, nuts and beans.
On the other hand, foods with a high glycemic index will cause your blood sugar to spike, negatively impacting your mood once the blood sugar spike drops off. Foods that have a high glycemic index include:
- Processed foods.
- White bread, pasta and potatoes.
- Fast food and fried foods.
- Foods and drinks high in sugar.
These foods often lead to a crash a few hours after consuming them. They also don’t leave you feeling satisfied for nearly as long as foods with a lower glycemic index.
“Think about what happens to your mood when you feel very hungry. You feel irritable, you feel stressed out, and you certainly don’t feel happy. To keep this feeling of agitation away and keep hunger at bay, focus on consuming the foods that keep you satisfied for longer,” Dr. Fourman explains. “Foods that keep you satisfied for longer have a low glycemic index and are high in fiber and lean protein.”
Rather than turning to comfort foods in times of stress or unhappiness, focus on fueling your body with foods that will keep you going at your best and improve your mood in the long run. “Food should not be a source of comfort regardless of whether it is ‘healthy’ or not,” shares Dr. Fourman.
Identifying new outlets to help you release your stress, such as exercise or meditation, will help you move forward instead of keeping you in the same stress cycle.
Dr. Fourman is a board-certified general surgeon who has performed over 2,000 bariatric surgical procedures during the past 10 years of practice. View Dr. Fourman’s profile and learn more about bariatric surgery on ProMedica’s website.