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Food And Your Mood

The foods we eat affect our waistlines - for better or for worse.

But did you know you know that eating that piece of cake or pie can make you tired or depressed and that eating carrots and celery sticks can fill you with energy and vitality.

Samantha Heller, a dietician and clinical nutritionist at New York University Medical Center, visits The Early Show to offer the skinny on how food can affect your mood.

Bodies are like chemistry sets, she says. Everything you put in your body has a chemical effect, which is why food can affect your mood. It gets broken down into elements that can raise your blood sugar or drop it rapidly.

Heller says, "That banana you're eating, we forget about it but the chemicals in the banana affect us, good or ill. There are chemicals like caffeine that affect the neurotransmitters and affect whether we feel good or bad or energetic or tired."

A big dose of caffeine might make you feel better in the short term - but that's not a healthy way to energize yourself. She explains you can become jittery and dependent on that caffeine.

And beware of white grains and sugars as well. Heller says, "The problem with white grains like white bread, white pasta, white highly sugared cereals is right after you eat it, it spikes up your blood sugar. Then your body compensates by pulling your blood sugar down. A lot of us have to have that bagel or pastry and midmorning we get tanked and tired and fatigued and are running off to get more coffee. That becomes a cycle. What we want to do is fill our body with healthy fuel to keep that blood sugar, keep that energy level as consistent throughout the day as possible."

As you eat healthier and your body does not have to deal with fighting the bad things eat, Heller notes, it is able to run more efficiently and you feel happier. If it doesn't have to keep controlling your blood sugar by producing insulin, it is not working as hard.

Here is a list of foods to add to your diet and foods to avoid:

Mood Supporters

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Swimming fish
  • Nuts
  • Beans
  • Non-fat dairy products
  • Egg whites
  • Whole grains

    Bad Foods

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • White flour

    As for comfort food, Heller says if you need it, maybe you're feeling stress. The issue with comfort food is it tastes good immediately and distracts you from your mood. On occasion, it's OK to do that, but you can't do that every day.

    But you can eat healthy comfort food. For macaroni and cheese, you can make it with whole grain pasta and non-fat cheese. It will make you feel good - and it won't have the effect of raising your blood sugar the way regular macaroni and cheese would.

    As for chocolate, bitter chocolate has some healthy components. But there's really not enough of that in chocolate to make a real difference. You need to get healthy fats in your diet. And never lose weight too fast, Heller says.

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