Magazine September 2002
of my clients, I'll call her Jennifer, came to my office suffering
from extreme fatigue and complained that everything in life felt
like a challenge, including her typical daily routine. Jennifer
was always getting sick. If something was going around the office,
Jennifer was the first one to catch it and the last one to get rid
of it. Dave, another client, came to see me because he was battling
a cycle of elation and depression in both mood and energy.
too experienced extreme exhaustion and lacked the strength to get
through an average day. A look at both Jennifer’s and Dave’s
diets revealed that their depression, lethargy, and malaise was
most likely related to the foods they consumed regularly.
you know that the foods you eat have a significant effect on both
your mental and emotional state? If you have ever reached for a
cup of coffee to keep you awake or attentive, you have experienced
the food-mood connection firsthand. The foods you consume not only
affect your body physically, but effect how your mind functions
as well. There is a wealth of evidence linking what we eat to how
we feel, yet many people unknowingly choose foods that aggravate
depression, insomnia, fatigue, food cravings, stress, memory-loss,
and prevent mental and emotional wellness (Source: Food & Mood
by Elizabeth Somer).
diets contribute to much of the mood disorders in our country. Mood
disorders affect 19 million Americans and $20 billion is spent annually
on treatment (Source: Healthy Healing by Linda Page). Our food creates
the quality of our blood. When we eat healthy foods, we fuel our
bodies with anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals. When we eat junky
foods, we fill our bodies with chemicals, preservatives, and refined
and artificial ingredients. Because the quality of our blood effects
the functioning of every cell, tissue, and organ, our diets influence
our minds, thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
of us know that what we eat today has an impact on our state of
health down the road. However, many people don’t realize
how immediate the mood-food connection actually works. What you
eat for breakfast will affect your thinking, cravings, and energy
a few hours later. How you feel right now is partially affected
by what you ate a few hours ago. For example, the caffeine in coffee
may increase your capacity for intellectual tasks, however, the
boost that coffee gives is often followed by a huge decline in mood
and energy. Chocolate contains an amphetamine-like substance associated
with pleasure and love, but may leave you feeling mildly depressed
later. A large pasta dinner often leaves you depleted and sleepy
shortly afterwards, and the sweet treats that most Americans consume
ultimately result in fatigue and sadness.
many people have simply grown accustomed to feeling “blah”
and most are unaware that something can be done to change how they
feel. If you are feeling blah, what can you do? Consider whole foods;
unprocessed and pure in nature, these foods are a powerhouse of
goodness for the body. By switching to a more nourishing diet, you
will begin to experience an increase in your mood, energy, mental
clarity and productivity. You will notice a decrease in fatigue,
sadness, forgetfulness and confusion. Your body will start to create
a natural state of order and balance.
Self Healing Cookbook by Kristina Turner, discusses eating to create
a desired emotional state. Here are some tips to start with:
Tense, Angry or Stuck?
MORE crisp, succulent veggies like cabbage, green beans, lettuce,
cucumber, cauliflower, celery, carrots, and snap peas. These vegetables
will help you relax, lighten up, and feel clear. Have them lightly
cooked or in salads.
Super-Sensitive or Too Emotional?
MORE cooked veggies, especially roots (daikon, carrot, turnip, yam),
winter squash (butternut, acorn), and sturdy greens (kale, collards).
These will calm you and get you down to business. They will give
you a firmer grip on life and fuel productive creativity.
Tense, Overheated or Overworked?
LESS salt, meat, eggs, cheese, and hard, baked foods. These foods
are heavy and contracting for your body. They make it hard for your
body to relax.
Fatigued, Spacey or Moody?
LESS sugar, raw foods, cold foods, cold drinks, and alcohol. These
foods are lightening and expansive for your body and too many can
put your head in the clouds.
also suggest you start a food-mood journal. For three days, see
if you can notice how certain foods make you feel. Let me know what
Sarfati is a Nutrition Counselor and Natural Foods Cooking Instructor
in Boulder. Debbie works with clients to create a customized nutrition
plan that will improve diet, enhance wellness, and eliminate health