April 16, 2012

Foods that Fight Monday Blues. ~ Yang Li

Most of us have had that ‘Monday morning’ feeling, when just getting out of bed feels like climbing Mount Everest.

But don’t worry, help is at hand. With just a few mood-boosting additions to your diet, both your mood and energy levels can stay high all day—even after the weekend bids us a fond farewell.

We all know sugary food equals instant energy. The sugar rush a chocolate bar can give is an undoubtedly easy option in its neat little packet. The only problem is the sudden lull in energy afterwards. If you do decide to give in to your sweet tooth, why not try a block of dark chocolate as a healthier alternative. Chocolates that contains 70% of cocoa and over are not only fantastic mood boosters, they are also rich in anti-aging anti-oxidants.

If you want to increase your mood-lifting dopamine levels a little more naturally, protein rich choices like cheese, eggs and chicken all contain the tryptophan amino acid that triggers the brain to produce the hormone. Dopamine and serotonin are linked with producing natural effects of euphoria and pleasure, perfect to stave away any mild dips in mood.

For a healthy, mood-improving breakfast, a morning fruit salad is perfect to start your day. Fruits like pineapple, watermelon, blueberries and apples all act as an ideal pick-me-up, thanks to their ability to up the dopamine and serotonin in the body.  Adding a few slices of banana not only increases dopamine and serotonin levels, it also provides a fantastic source of potassium.

Low potassium levels have been linked with stress, irritability and tiredness, so any source of potassium will get you feeling calm and ready for anything in no time. Other great sources of potassium can be found in avocados, dried fruit and yet again dark chocolate—cocoa-rich chocolate could almost be up there with fruit in the health stakes, almost.

Getting your eight glasses of water a day may seem like a sure fire way to score nothing but bathroom breaks, but managing at least five not only keeps the skin looking fresh and healthy, it helps to fight feelings of fatigue. Increased tiredness is a common cause of low spirits, but if you’re not a big water fan, why not liven it up a slice of lemon, crushed ice, or try it sparkling. If not, the eight glasses a day rule doesn’t have to strictly refer to just water. Any liquid that provides hydration can count (alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating).

An early morning coffee is a must for many, but you shouldn’t feel too guilty about giving into the caffeine. Coffee may have a bad reputation, but in moderation it’s a good way to kick-start your daily metabolism and energy levels. Just be sure to drink it with a healthy breakfast and try not to resort to its instant boost too often. As with any artificial spike in energy, there is sure to be the subsequent low.

If you’re often at a loss for ideas when it comes to a quick, healthy lunch, adding foods like kidney beans, lentils, butter beans and broad beans to a mixed bean salad will not only go easy on the waistline, it will counteract the sugar rush of any sweet treat you may or may not have sampled earlier. Beans and legumes slow down sugar absorption, bypassing the following lull in energy. As stabilized energy levels equal a ready for anything attitude, they make a perfect Monday afternoon snack. Super-food edamame beans can now be bought in handy ready-to-eat pots if you’re left with no time to prepare.

If you do get the chance to pop out for a lunchtime meal, it may be of interest that spicy foods give almost the same effect as chocolate in improving the mood. Hot chillies contain an ingredient called capsaicin, which is what gives your tongue the burning sensation. The capsaicin fools the brain into thinking the body is in pain, causing it to release its own painkillers and give a sensation of happiness—after the burning has worn off, of course. It’s all natural though, so if you can handle your spicy foods, feel free to indulge.

Have an energetic and happy Monday.


Yang Li, a London PR girl, and she is curious about all the ‘quirky but cool’ things in the world. She manages Chillisauce.co.uk website that features glamorous and leisure life in London. Contact her and share your thoughts with her! Follow her on twitter @Smiley_Yang or contact her by email at [email protected]
Editor: Lorin Arnold

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