Mood and Food

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris


Can what you eat significantly affect your mood?

Yes, according to a recent survey conducted by members of the London-based Food and Mood Project. After surveying 200 people suffering from a variety of mental health problems during a one-year period, nutritional therapist Amanda Geary found that more than one-third of the participants experienced significant improvements when they ate or avoided particular foods. Participants who suffered from anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings had the greatest improvements in mood, after incorporating more “supporters” (foods that help sustain good moods) and eliminating identified “stressors” (foods that drag down moods) from their diets. Those struggling with depression reported the second-highest shift in behavior when eating similar diets. According to the report, mood supporters include fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, oil-rich fish, and high protein foods- all of which keep blood sugar levels steady. Geary also discovered that eating regularly and not skipping breakfast, as well as drinking more water, had a beneficial effect on moods. Food stressors, on the other hand, include alcohol and chocolate, and for about 80 percent of study participants, sugar and caffeine have the worst effect on blood sugar levels and thus foster foul moods and anxiety.

In my research as well as my own personal experience, I have found that foods high in Omega 3s, Vitamin D and B-vitamins to be the most significant in improving my energy and moods, especially depression. These 3 also happen to be nutrients that most people are lacking. In fact, 80% of the population tested are low in Omega 3s. Here are some ways to increase your nutrition and improve your mood:


Eat Feel-Good Foods

Avocados, beans, green leafy vegetables: Create energy and relieve depression-High in healthy fats and Omega 3s.

Bananas: Calm the mind (eat in moderation as they are high glycemic)

Berries: Help avoid depression- by eating anti-oxidant rich berries which also happen to be low glycemic, you will satisfy your sweet cravings without spiking your blood sugar which can cause mood swings and depression. Berries are a perfect summer snack and are portable- great to have for breakfast or in a smoothie

Broccoli, sweet potatoes, oranges, peaches: Clear the mind- They contain minerals such as iron, manganese and potassium, which counter anemia. Anemia (common among young women) causes weariness, affecting physical as well as the mental health.

Green Smoothies: Balance blood sugar and energy levels. Blend some mineral rich spinach with some low glycemic berries. The folic acid in spinach helps ward off depression too.

Mushrooms exposed to UV light: According to Dr. Oz, purchasing mushrooms which have been left under a UV light helps the mushrooms to be Vitamin D rich (100% RDA). Vitamin D helps ward off stress and depression, and help to regulate neurotransmitters in the brain such as serotonin, melatonin and dopamine. These all have a profound impact on mood. Always cook mushrooms before eating. I suggest cooking in coconut oil.

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pinto beans and blue-green algaes): Prevent the blues and feed the brain.

Salmon: High in Omega 3s-Reduces mood swings and depression, calming

Water: Boost energy, hydrating

Whole grains, herbal teas: Ward off stress

Foods to avoid:  High glycemic foods such as white sugar, agave, white flour, white potatoes, processed foods such as  breakfast cereals and white rice can create insulin spikes which can cause depression and mood swings. So if you are craving sweets, it’s best to sweeten with stevia or go for low glycemic fruits such as berries, apples and grapefruits sprinkled with some Omega 3 rich ground flax or chia seeds.

Experiencing emotions is a normal part of life, however your moods may be tied to something you just ate! So the next time you feel a doom or gloom coming on, before reaching for an over the counter or prescription drug, take inventory of what you ate (or didn’t eat)  in the past few hours (a food diary is helpful) and try adding or eliminating some of the foods  I mentioned to your diet. Simply choosing the right foods can have a major impact on your mood and your overall health and well-being.

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at Find her at, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .

Understanding Sugar Cravings and What to Do About Them

Please enjoy today’s article from Elaina Love, author of three recipe books and founder of Pure Joy Planet and Pure Joy Academy as the guest columnist every Friday in the Journey Back to Self Blog. ~ Chris

Understanding Sugar Cravings and What to Do About Them

Sugar and simple carbohydrate cravings are a real problem for many of us. Not only does sugar (in the form of processed flours, white potatoes, sugars, high fructose corn syrup, agave and even healthy sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey and dates) diminish our health, they can cause a host of emotional problems as well such as irritability and depression.

What are some reasons we crave sugars or sweet foods?

One main reason can be low adrenal function. Years of abusing our bodies through less than optimal food choices, lack of exercise, continual low-grade stress and overeating can cause our adrenals (a hormone gland that sits right above the kidneys) to continually secrete epinephrine (also known as adrenaline). This continuous reliance on our adrenals to provide us with energy and good feelings cause another form of abuse when the adrenaline is running low. We are so addicted to having and using energy during the day that we will sometimes drink caffeine and eat stimulating foods such as too much chocolate to force our adrenals to secrete even more “juice” than they would normally secrete. Sugar and caffeine both give us a temporary adrenaline hit or high followed by a sugar crash.

What can we do?

If you’ve ever tried to quit an unhealthy habit, you know that it can be a difficult road of cravings and deprivation. If this describes you, don’t feel badly, it is a normal part of our existence to want to feel good. When we get the dopamine hits (also known as the Pleasure Trap) it causes us to keep revisiting those unhealthy habits no matter how bad we know they are for us. Will Power alone is not enough; you need to support your body with the nutrients it is lacking. The first thing you can do right away is to start taking an adaptogen daily. An adaptogen is a botanically based hormone regulator. They help us to adapt to stressful environmental and physical factors. Adaptogens are a saving grace as they can help us to regulate energy by either helping us sleep better or to help us perform better in day-to-day tasks.

I take 3 Quantum Adrenal Complex capsules every morning to help balance and regulate my hormone levels. You can find many adaptogens in teas as well such as licorice, schisandra berries, Siberian ginseng, rhodiola rosea, ashwaganda, medicinal mushrooms such as Reishi, Chaga, Cordycepts, and more.

12 tips to minimize sugar and caffeine cravings:

  1. Avoid places you will be tempted (such as malls, the snack isle of grocery stores and shopping when you are tired or hungry). Most important: don’t bring those energy robbing foods back to your house.
  2. Relieve your stress by taking action on a project or make a phone call you have been avoiding.
  3. Daily yoga and meditation have a huge impact on relieving stress and increasing pleasure sensations. I have been using a new app on my iphone called Mediator. It times me and does little chimes to keep my mind from wandering.
  4. Eat foods that mimic the foods you are cravings such as a raw-vegan zucchini pasta with pesto sauce instead of the white flour and dairy-laden version.
  5. How about making a vegan, low glycemic pie and keeping it in your freezer to have ready when you are in the middle of a snack attack?
  6. Sauerkraut is full of natural probiotics and dampens the cravings for sweets. I mix it with an avocado for a hearty snack.
  7. Probiotic foods such as coconut kefir (see image right) or coconut yogurt (watch my youtube video):
    Coconut Yogurt by Elaina Love of Pure Joy Planet
  8. Make a sugar free lemonade with purified water, lemon juice and zero glycemic stevia
  9. Drink a green juice (celery, kale, cucumber, lemon) even if it doesn’t sound good in the moment.
  10. Eat coconut yogurt with low glycemic raspberries (frozen or fresh)*
  11. Make a list of your health goals and get that out before going for food. Write down everything you eat, the pleasure factor of eating forbidden foods will decrease knowing that you will later be accountable for it on paper.
  12. Fast forward in your mind to one hour later… will you be happy about what you are choosing now?

Over time, as you practice discipline, being accountable, substitution and supporting your adrenals, you may find that you will get more pleasure and feel stronger by not eating sugars and simple carbohydrates. Your pancreas and your body will reward you with more sustainable energy, youthfulness and less fine lines on your face. You deserve your birth right of Pure Joy!

To your inner and outer beauty!
Elaina Love

Bringing Pure Joy and Gourmet Bliss to the Planet,
Elaina Love

Chris Sopa is founder and owner of Chris Sopa International, Inc. You can learn more about her at Find her at, Twitter @ChrisSopa, LinkedIn, and .