Does your diet affect your mood? Do you feel lethargic if you’ve had a big sandwich or ravenous after a simple green salad? Are you drawn to morning Dunkin Donuts and coffee or an afternoon M&M cookie to perk up?
The body processes foods in ways that affect our energy, brainpower, and mood differently. Eat too much bread and/or refined carbs and we fall asleep in that afternoon meeting. If we eat too much sugar, it is hard to focus. The roller coaster of blood sugar highs and lows coupled with caffeine can significantly impact your mood and make you irritable—not a good demeanor for the office or home! Fortunately, there is a solution. Your focus at work can improve, you can see increased engagement and better endurance to help you muscle through the day. It’s all related to your diet and with one nutrient incorporated wisely - fat.
Fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat can increase happiness, keep you satiated longer, regulate hormones, improve metabolism, and boost your immune system. “Good fats”, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, depression, dementia and arthritis. Foods rich in Omega 3s include, salmon, avocado, walnuts and olive oil, to name a few. No longer is guacamole an indulgence or walnuts on your salad a splurge. Doses of saturated fat can also be beneficial – those from quality full fat dairy, grass-fed meats, eggs, organ meats and coconuts. This does NOT include trans-fat, those from processed foods and refined oils (canola, palm oils). Those packaged cookies, crackers, cakes and even jarred sauces. It’s time to become educated about fat!
Check out five benefits not commonly known that supports incorporating “healthy” and moderate doses of saturated fat into EVERY meal, yes EVERY meal.
- Satiation. How many times are you hungry a couple hours after you eat? Have you noticed when it was? Does it often happen at 11am and 3pm—a few hours after breakfast or lunch? Do you find that you go for that quick energy fix of a sugary trail mix or baked chips in an effort to be “healthy”? The next time you feel that way, evaluate if you’ve had any “fat” in your breakfast or lunch. Cravings decrease when fat and fiber are eaten in a meal. Fiber keeps the blood sugar level and fat keeps you satiated - feeling complete. With more fat and fiber in your diet, you’ll have the energy to make it through your day without caving in for that Starbucks Frappaccino and to muscle through that two-hour afternoon meeting.
- YUM factor. Fat tastes good on the tongue. Some love it. Some hate it. Some yearn for it. Just be wary of the fat, sugar combination. Having a healthy, tasty item can help you curve your cravings and ensure you won’t overindulge later.
- Fat soluble vitamins require it. Vitamins A, D, E, and K require fat for absorption in the body. Taking a Vitamin D supplement and eating more greens for Vitamin K is pointless unless you incorporate some fat into your diet to help to absorb them.
- Vitality and Motivation: Because fat has more calories, it provides more energy. Yes, your body will turn too many UN-USED calories into fat. Not all calories are created equal and your body will use the calories it needs for building muscle, regulating hormones and replenishing energy. Knowing this and given a choice, which of the following will provide you with long-lasting energy: pretzels, handful of walnuts with full fat cheese or a Dunkin Donut?
- Brain power. Your brain consists of 60% fat. It’s necessary for cognitive development and cellular function and it serves as a mood enhancer – serotonin. Phrases such as “fat and happy” didn’t originate from nothing. Eat your fat to improve your mood. For that next afternoon meeting or weekend party, try supplying some sliced avocados, nuts, dark chocolate versus bagels and chips. Or try some hummus and guacamole dip with veggies or lentil/quinoa-based chips.
- Skin Health. Every notice how your skin complexion and tone can change with not only stress and smoking, but with what you eat and drink? Overly sugary diets increases those wrinkles and those with too little fat lead to gaunt features and less supple skin. Fight aging with diet! Skin health is reliant on elasticity and hormone regulation. Eating high quality, healthy fats with omega 3s, biotin and more can can reduce blemishes, spots and the signs of aging.
I am not saying go hog wild on those fats – just don’t fear them. It’s not about an easy, one fix answer. It’s about an intelligent combination of all the parts your body needs. Spread some grass-fed butter or sliced avocados on your Ezekiel bread (einkorn toast) or homemade tea bread. A full fat yogurt cup is plenty with some nuts and seeds. Even try smoked salmon or dark chocolate with nuts as an afternoon or mid-morning snack. Or try these avocado brownies for a decadent, but low-sugar, vegan and gluten free snack.
Do you think fat could improve your mood? Happiness doesn’t mean bribing your employees, your family, or yourself with Dunkin Donuts. It means providing yourself the space and the support to indulge. Happy employees are less cranky, more motivated and better engaged. Happy families are less argumentative, more cooperative and involved. What could be more important than that?