A quick Internet search revealed there is a great deal of information available on the food-mood connection. A distillation of key and recurring items follows.
Omegas and fats in general are sorely lacking in today's low fat foods. Additionally, it seems like we are encouraged to steer clear of fish these days due to mercury toxicity, thus conveniently missing the opportunity to add this nutrient rich source of omegas into our diets. There are amazing plants sources though, such as flax, chia seeds and walnuts. Try adding a few walnuts to your minimally processed oatmeal for breakfast. Chia seeds soaked overnight in almond milk with a touch of raw honey and vanilla extract makes a delicious, nutritious pudding. Try it with layers of fresh fruit for a visually appealing parfait.
Refined sugar is another culprit in the food-mood connection. At this time of year, we have the temptations of over consumption of high sugar goodies at every office party. While carbohydrates are essential for the formation of serotonin, the feel good brain chemical, too much sugar and simple carbohydrates can crowd out other important, nutrient rich foods needed for good physical and mental health. Keep fresh fruits and veggies on hand, be sure to include them in your daily diet and enjoy special treats in moderation. Surprise your coworkers with a healthful dessert like raspberry-cashew 'cheesecake'!
Ensure you are getting adequate protein. Eggs, lean meats, poultry, and fish are good sources. There are a host of vegetarian options too. Nuts, seeds, legumes, and grains all contain protein, as do vegetables.
Coffee drinks, laden with sugar and really-bad-for-you trans fats (read the label; if it contains any partially hydrogenated oil, it means trans fat) temporarily boost energy to cram more into each day and get last minute preparations for the holidays accomplished. When consumed with regularity, these delicious drinks ultimately rob us of the energy and vitality we need to thrive over the holidays and beyond.
A moderate amount of caffeine is OK for most people, but keep in mind it affects your body's biochemistry including serotonin (mood neurotransmitter) and cortisol (stress hormone). Everyone's system responds to caffeine uniquely and your personal response may change over time due to a variety of reasons. Caffeine may simulate a chronic stress state and lead to symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as insomnia and anxiety.
If you think that caffeine is adversely affecting your health, then it probably is. If you think you can't possibly make through a day, much less the holidays without caffeine, then it definitely is and you would benefit from extreme self care! (Testify!)
There are some great coffee substitutes out there. Roasted chicory root is inexpensive (until someone figures out this secret) and easy to prepare. Really tastes like coffee (I like mine black and strong). Chicory satisfies the bitter taste that is lacking in the SAD (standard American diet) and is a great liver detoxifier. There are coffee-free blends that might be pleasing to your taste buds, each with nutritional value and no caffeine. Try Teeccino© or Dandy Blend©; both are delightful if you like a sweeter taste without added sugar.
In addition to a quick diet check, review your activity and sleep patterns. Poor sleep contributes to anxiety, irritability, moods swings, and lowers your immunity. Early to bed, early to rise will do wonders for emotional flexibility and stability. Include at least a few minutes of time in nature daily; walking in a park by a lake or forest whenever possible is pivotal in enhancing mood.
Finally, a health coach can work with you in assessing your current state, help you identify diet and lifestyle goals, and support you on your path to wellness and optimal health. If you (or someone you know is seriously depressed), get a medical evaluation from a health care provider immediately. Then, talk to your provider about the effects of diet and lifestyle on your individual symptoms.