When you eat breakfast, lunch, or dinner have you ever noticed how you feel after your meal? Or whether your food choices can affect your mood?
Perhaps you should.
A recent study that looked at diet and mood found that what you eat could very much influence your mood.
The researchers gathered information from more than 10,000 Spaniards, who reported their dietary intake on a questionnaire between 1999 and 2005.
They found that those who most closely adhere to their traditional Mediterranean diet have a 30 percent lower risk of developing depression, compared to those who don’t follow the diet. Wow! Can you believe that?
We’ve long known that a Mediterranean diet high in fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, beans, fish and olive oil is good for the heart, and now you have another reason to adopt this diet. You’ll feel better!
How do these foods help?
* Fruits, vegetables, legumes) were independently protective against depression in the study as they contain an abundance of antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory compounds that help protect the endothelium, (the lining of blood vessels) research has shown that a healthy endothelium is associated not only with less heart disease and less depression.
* Olives are said to improve the body’s ability to use serotonin, the brain transmitter that is often found to be low in depression.
* Omega 3-fatty acids found in seafood may improve the function of nerve cells.
All of these benefits from great tasting food, now there’s a reason to try this out.
So, I guess that leads us back to the produce department. And June is a perfect time to get started with your diet change. It’s easy to combine all of these Mediterranean ingredients when you start with produce.
Lets start with breakfast:
Fresh raspberries or strawberries and yogurt are easy and low fat
Sliced pears or peaches on whole grain bread with just a spread of almond butter tastes great and will make your taste buds happy
An omelet with sautéed zucchini, onions, peppers, basil and a sprinkling of feta will make a hearty breakfast that should give you enough protein to keep you going all morning.
A salad of roasted gold and red beets with Arugula, green onions, and drizzled with olive oil is delicious and healthy.
Or perhaps a bowl of cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado and walnuts.
A whole grain tortilla with baked sweet potato used as a spread, sliced steamed broccoli, parmesan, and sliced tomato is hearty and scrumptious.
Plus the complex carbohydrates for the sweet potato will help keep up your energy for the whole afternoon.
Do you need something with a little more protein? Try a little lean chicken or vegetarian burger, chopped and added to a bowl of cucumber slices, crumbled feta, and a bit of chopped red onion. Now we’re talking.
Roasted corn added to some cannelloni beans and plied on top of some grilled tofu or fish.
Or if it’s heating up in your area you could make your meal around carrot sticks, cucumber slices, low fat hummus, or Greek yogurt sprinkled with dill.
Have a bowl of fruit salad in the frig loaded with melons, berries, and nectarines and you could make everyone one happy while sitting together on the porch.
Which leads to probably the most important part of this diet. Besides the healthy ingredients, the Mediterranean diet is about cooking food and sharing it together. So even though you could go out and have any of these things I mentioned at a local bistro, taking the time with each other to prepare food is what makes this most successful.
Invite your partner and/or kids to shop with you. Have fun picking things out.
Make one night a week where you just take time to eat and enjoy others’ company.
Take a cooking class and learn how to cook as a family.
Whatever you do will all make a difference and lead to a healthier happier you.