An Eye on Your Health – Mood Matters!

Ice CreamHave you ever had those days where you just feel worn down?  Are there times where you don’t have the energy to do anything?  Do you often just want to plop down on your favorite chair with a pint of ice cream?  Most people have–and usually end up with an empty container in the end!  If this is you–fear not!  You are certainly not alone.  There may be a biological reason that you’re not registering how much of your fatty treat you’ve eaten!

A recent scientific study found a significant link between people’s sensitivity to how fat tastes and their mood.  Simply put, the fact that you’re feeling down may mean that you have lower sensitivity to high-fat foods.  This means that you may be able to pack  away more of those fatty treats without feeling any worse for wear–and that you may, without even thinking about it, end up eating more than you normally would!  The study also found that people in a poor mood had a very hard time telling low-fat and high-fat foods apart, while people in a neutral mood had a much easier time!

To compound the issue, another recent study (among many) shows a significantOlive Oil link between an increased risk of depression and a high-fat diet.   Specifically, having a diet high in trans-fats and saturated fats (those fats that are solid–like butter) was strongly linked to a greater risk of depression.  Unsaturated fats (such as olive oil) were shown to have the opposite effect–a lower risk of depression.

See the viscous cycle that could develop there?  Being stuck in a bad mood means you could overeat on high-fat foods–increasing your risk for depression–possibly leading to more overeating of high-fat foods!  So what’s the solution here?

Know your facts!

Fresh FruitArmed with this knowledge, you can break the cycle!  Aim to stick to those low-fat and more nutritious choices when you’re feeling those “curl-up-on-the-couch blues.”  Try some fresh vegetables, such as carrot sticks, sliced bell peppers, or cucumbers.  Or, for something more sweet, try some Greek yogurt with fresh fruit!  In doing so, you might just be helping yourself get out of your funk!

 

 

Resources

  1. Oral Perceptions of Fat and Taste Stimuli Are Modulated by Affect and Mood Induction
  2. Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Depression: The SUN Project
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Enjoy your food–but eat less!

So it’s funny what the birth of your child will do to your free time!  It’s been just a few months since I’ve posted and I’ve got a ton of stuff to talk about!  My next post was going to be on portion sizes and portion control, so while I’m working on that, I’ll give you a related teaser.  I saw the following poster on http://www.choosemyplate.gov, and I thought it fit very well my next post.  Click on the poster below to see a readable version of it.

Top Ten Tip Sheet

The SuperTracker and Food-A-Pedia are some tools created by the USDA to help you understand more about what you’re eating and what’s in it.  The names above link to the specific pages.

Of those ten tips, I’d like to talk about three in particular:

#3 – Use a smaller plate

Smaller Plates!How many of us were taught to “clean your plate”, because there were starving children out there that would appreciate your dinner? Sadly, the idea of “cleaning your plate” can turn out to be a very unhealthy one.  Instead, we should eat until we’re satisfied, and not eat anything else.  However, if you have trouble doing that–trick yourself!  Using a smaller plate or bowl for your meal will still give you the satisfaction of cleaning your plate, while not leading you to eat more than you need!  For an interesting read on how the size of the container your food is in can affect how much you eat, read this article about a study done at Cornell University–where people ate more popcorn when given larger containers, even when they didn’t realize it or want to.

#4 – If you eat out, choose healthier options

Many of us eat out on a weekly basis–if not more.  I’m no exception!  When we do eat out, however, it’s nearly impossible to control how food is being prepared.  Thus, be prepared beforehand!  Many restaurants have nutritional information listed on their websites, and in many states, menus are required to have nutritional information.  Take a peek at this information before you go, if you can, and determine a healthier option beforehand.  Not only will that stop you from staring at the menu with the server staring down at you impatiently…but you also won’t be tempted by something that you really don’t want to (or shouldn’t) have.

#10 – Make treats “treats,” not everyday foods

FruitWe all need treats once in a while.  Maybe you’ve had a stressful day and want to unwind with some ice cream.  Maybe you have a sweet tooth that’s feared throughout the state!  Recall back to my first post – The Mighty Calorie! – that just 250 extra calories a day can lead to 24 more pounds a year.  Take a look at your treat–I bet you it’s at least 250 calories, if not more.  So make treats exactly that–treats.  If you eat treats daily, try cutting them down to 3 times a week.  If you’re really craving something, replace those other times with more healthy options–a piece of your favorite fruit, for example.

As always, feel free to respond in the comments, talk to me over on my Facebook page, or tweet me through Twitter.  Enjoy!