Elevate Your Self Esteem by Eating Right
"You are what you eat" may be just an old saying, but the truth is that you can be changed emotionally and physically by what you eat on a daily basis. The type of food that you eat can elevate or reduce certain neurotransmitters in your brain that affect mood.
Two important factors linked to mood are serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of happiness, concentration, and social ease. Dopamine helps control the part of the brain that feels a sense of reward after positive behaviors. You can easily incorporate mood boosting foods into your diet that increase both of these elements and put you in a happier place in your everyday life!
Self-esteem and eating are often related. Obviously there are contributing factors like self-talk, trauma, circumstances, and general health, but food does play a part in your self-esteem! If your mood is low because your body is bogged down with unhealthy foods or even just lacking in nutritious, mood boosting foods, it’s hard to feel great about yourself. I’m not just talking about the self-esteem of body image, either. The nutrients in food interact with your brain chemistry and can either support or harm the balance of important neurotransmitters.
Here are some mood boosting foods to keep in mind when you’re trying to improve your attitude:
A banana can help increase levels of both dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Bananas are able to produce serotonin thanks to the amino acid tryptophan that is converted to serotonin in the brain. HealthGuidance also recommends this fruit specifically for dopamine. Ripe bananas are particularly good for increasing levels of dopamine — if you can’t bring yourself to eat a ripe banana with brown spots, include it in a smoothie.
These natural snacks can increase both dopamine and serotonin in your body. Sunflower seeds are particularly good for improving dopamine. Nuts that will increase serotonin include almonds and walnuts. According to Serotune, foods rich in flax seed, or flax seed supplements, are another way to get a boost in dopamine and serotonin.
Iron Rich Foods
Foods that have a natural abundance of iron are a good source of serotonin. Some things that fit on this list include leafy green spinach, kale, broccoli, avocados and grapefruit.
Food that has a lot of calcium will give you a boost of serotonin. Getting calcium doesn’t have to mean drinking a glass of milk. Other food with a healthy dose of calcium include salmon, cheese, yogurt, egg, artichoke, soy, oranges, strawberries, grapes, peanuts, and avocado.
Eating foods that have a lot of antioxidants are another way to get a good dose of dopamine. Foods and vegetables are the best way to get antioxidants. Specifically, red beans, wild blueberries, red kidney beans, pinto beans, cranberries, and blackberries are all high in antioxidants.
While eating the right foods isn’t the only step to getting your emotional health on track, it’s certainly one important component. Specific foods can help your mood, but also consider your diet as a whole. Often what slows down our body or makes it crash directly affects our mood as well. The opposite of mood boosting foods are usually unhealthy fats, artificial sugars, and excess caffeine. I’ve personally experienced benefits by borrowing from the autoimmune diet. You can keep doing research to find something more comprehensive that works for you but even little habits add up, so stop and think about what you’re putting into your grocery cart!
Need some more help finding food that will boost your energy? Check out this helpful article slideshow from WebMD: Energy Foods.
About Jennine Estes, MFT
Think of me as your relationship consultant, I'm your neutral third party that can help you untangle the emotions and help you figure out what's really going on. I am a Marriage and Family Therapist in San Diego, CA. Certified in Emotionally Focused Therapy for Couples. Supervisor. I write relationship and self growth advice for my column Relationships in the Raw. Creator of #BeingLOVEDIs campaign. MFC#47653