Sugar and Mood Swings

Over the last several years, mental health has become an increasingly hot topic, but especially in 2020. It is amazing to me how many people I have heard  mention that they now are suffering from depression and anxiety who never have before, and understandably so. In my house, as with a lot of you, homeschooling has become the norm, working from home has been taken to a new level, and the pressure to stay well while still needing to carry on with necessary tasks is at the forefront of most conversations I have. All of this has created and continues to create a type of stress we have never experienced. These stressors are ones that we can’t control, however, we can control our response and do all we can to avoid additional and unnecessary stress. 

Mental health awareness in ourselves and others is critically important. Fortunately, the conversation surrounding mental health has improved, and people are more comfortable reaching out for help now than ever before. While there is no replacement for professional help when needed, the foods we consume do affect our moods. 

Nutritional psychiatry is a relatively new field of study and is one that fascinates me. While there is still a lot of progress to be made in the field, it should come as no surprise to us that the foods that we eat affect our mood and the way we feel overall. A lot of factors affect our mental health, but it is imperative that we address the areas of our lives that we can control to help us be as mentally healthy as possible, such as the foods we consume. Kathryn Ely, owner of states, “Research tells us that blood sugar highs and lows affect mood. Irritability and worry are symptoms of the common mood disorders depression and anxiety. But they are also symptoms one can experience with poor glycemic regulation. So an individual having blood sugar regulation issues could be mistakenly diagnosed with a mood disorder when the solution to the symptoms could be a shift in diet.”  When anxiety and depression are an issue, oftentimes a person will engage in emotional eating, and high sugar foods seem to be a go-to. This food choice can easily compound the existing mood disorder and makes it harder to get under control. 

2021 has arrived, and one action I would encourage you to take this year is to  reduce the refined sugar foods in your diet. If you are having a sweet craving, try a piece of fruit or an item sweetened with a little honey rather than reaching for a candy bar or doughnut.  More than likely, the craving will be satisfied with the fruit, and you will not only have filled your body with natural sugars rather than refined ones, but also with nutrients rather than empty calories. Additionally, you will probably see fewer mood swings and an overall improvement in how you feel. 

There is no doubt that we are all hoping our lives will resume to some sort of normal soon. What else are you hoping for in the new year? For me, it is a desire to grow spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Some of the ways I plan on doing this are through gratitude journaling, mindful eating, regular exercising, reducing stress, and nuturing the positive relationships in my life. All of these areas have an impact on our overall well-being and living our best life! We’re on this journey together…. let’s do it!