How many kids does it take to change a light bulb? Three. One to say, “But I never turn it on!”, and two to say, “But I did it last time!”
As wonderful as it has been to have all the Hansen girls under one roof for the holidays, it has also been, at times, very trying. Arguments over bathroom time, what to watch on TV and whose turn it is to walk the dog have occurred almost daily.
That got me to thinking. What is different about the holidays that can make family members more disagreeable than other times during the year? While they wrestled over the TV remote, I grabbed my laptop, locked myself in the bedroom and started to research. There were tons of articles about holiday stress, but one that really grabbed my attention was a Fox Health article that dealt with foods that can actually affect your mood. According to the article, many of the foods we consider comfort foods are less than comforting when it comes to keeping us in a good mood. Let’s look at several of our favorites and what we can substitute to make sure we minimize the grumpiness.
— Potato chips: Potato chips are fried in oils that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. This type of fat can actually block our body from using omega-3 fatty acids that actually help elevate mood. Instead of grabbing chips with your next turkey sandwich, try substituting almonds. Almonds are rich in zinc and vitamin B12, which are great for boosting your mood.
— Soda: It is no big secret that soda is not good for you. The sugar and the caffeine rush you get are short-lived, causing a big-time crash when your blood sugar drops. Low blood sugar makes you tired and cranky. A better substitute is a flavored carbonated water or some fresh fruit squeezed into some club soda.
— Margarine: Advertisers tells us that margarine is much better for us than real butter. That is not really the case. Margarine is made of man-made fats rather than those that come from nature and contains the omega-6’s that affect your mood as well as insulin levels. Natural is always a better choice. If you need to use butter, do so in moderation or use olive oil, which is high in the happiness enhancing omega-3’s
— Bagels: Bagels used to have a reputation as a healthy food. Runners in particular gobbled up bagels before and after a race. Many people still believe this misconception and start their morning with a bagel smothered in cream cheese or butter. With or without the spreads, bagels are not a healthy choice and will virtually guarantee an energy crash long before lunch time. For a powerful, mood-boosting breakfast, choose half of a whole-wheat English muffin with egg, which will deliver fiber, B vitamins and zinc.
— Sweet potato casserole: I was sad to see this holiday favorite on the bad list, but it makes sense. While sweet potatoes are a healthy alternative to a white potato, sweet potatoes covered in marshmallows, pecans and brown sugar is more like a high carbohydrate dessert. Once again, any food that makes our blood sugar too high too fast will make us less than happy afterwards. Next holiday season serve some baked or mashed sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon instead.
While this is just a short list of bad mood foods, there is a common theme among them. Any food that causes unstable blood sugar levels, blocks the good fats, contains chemical additives and does not contain mood improving vitamins and minerals should be avoided. Your best bet is to eat healthy fruits and vegetables and leave the processed food on the shelves.
Kathy Hansen has over 20 years of experience in the health and fitness field and plans to hide all chips, bagels and margarine at least until the twins go back to school. She can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.