Nu­tri­tion af­fects how we feel dur­ing the day

The Mercury (Pottstown, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Michilea Pat­ter­son mpat­ter­son@21st-cen­tu­ry­ @MichileaP on Twit­ter For more about Gi­ant Food Stores in­clud­ing their healthy ideas shelf tag pro­gram, visit the web­site gi­ant­food­ For more healthy liv­ing sto­ries in­clud­ing recipes, visi

Valen­tine’s Day may be over but we’re still in the mid­dle of Fe­bru­ary which hap­pens to be Amer­i­can Heart Month.

Heart dis­ease is the lead­ing cause of death for both men and women in the United States. The very se­ri­ous con­di­tion can be pre­vented or man­aged by mak­ing health­ier choices such as choos­ing nutri­tious meals to eat.

Not only does eat­ing healthy help with heart dis­ease but it can also be a mood booster just like eat­ing un­healthy can con­trib­ute to de­pres­sion or the win­ter blues. Cort­ney Schoepe, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian and in-store nu­tri­tion­ist at the Gi­ant Food Store in Haver­ford, shared how and why food af­fects the mood. An­swers have been edited for clar­ity.


Q: How can food af­fect how you feel? A: The old say­ing “we are what we eat” re­ally does ring true for most peo­ple. When they eat well, mean­ing a bal­anced diet rich in fruits and veg­eta­bles, whole grains, and lean pro­tein choices, it tends to help them to feel bet­ter in the long run. Your body feels bet­ter when it’s be­ing fu­eled bet­ter. When we tend to eat things that are rich in high fats like our com­fort foods and com­fort snacks, which we tend to grav­i­tate to­ward in the win­ter months, we kind of feel more slug­gish. The sugar gets stored as fat and fat gets stored as fat so when you in­crease those types of things in your diet then you tend to feel less en­ergy and less driven. There­fore it af­fects your mood to make you a lit­tle bit more down.


Q: What kinds of foods should we be­ing eat­ing in the win­ter­time to give us a boost of en­ergy? A: It’s most im­por­tant to make sure that we’re still in­cor­po­rat­ing our fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles. Even if you don’t have ac­cess to fresh then uti­lize what’s avail­able in the frozen de­part­ment. That’s just as good as fresh in most cases. Still eat the rain­bow ev­ery year. When I teach kids, I al­ways tell them to eat the rain­bow. It re­ally is a good thing for even adults to strive to do es­pe­cially in the win­ter months when maybe their fa­vorite fruits and veg­eta­bles aren’t in sea­son. Eat items that are in sea­son that you haven’t tried be­fore. In the rain­bow of fruits and veg­eta­bles, all of our dif­fer­ent vi­ta­mins and min­er­als come within the dif­fer­ent color groups. If you’re not eat­ing a cer­tain color or many col­ors in the rain­bow, you’re go­ing to be low in some of the nu­tri­ents or vi­ta­mins and min­er­als that you need.

Also we want to make sure that we’re choos­ing whole grains as op­posed to sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates. Things that are sim­ple car­bo­hy­drates are high in sugar. We tend to get a lit­tle quick en­ergy boost af­ter we eat them but then that en­ergy boost drops. What’s known as a sugar high hap­pens then you feel even more slug­gish and more down af­ter you’ve had that lit­tle high you get. It ei­ther makes you search for more sweets or you get in a vi­cious cy­cle of choos­ing poorly. Whereas if we choose whole grains, what hap­pens is that they take a lit­tle longer for us to digest and give our body more last­ing en­ergy. It helps in­crease a more sta­ble en­ergy level which then can af­fect your mood bet­ter.

Fish is a re­ally great lean pro­tein choice es­pe­cially our fatty fish like sal­mon be­cause it has omega 3 fatty acids in them. One of the ben­e­fits of omega 3 fatty acids is it helps to de­crease de­pres­sion in ad­di­tion it pro­vides heart healthy ben­e­fits. Con­sum­ing enough omega 3 fatty acids can lead to less in­flam­ma­tion in our body. In­cor­po­rat­ing fatty fish or fish in gen­eral at least twice a week should be a min­i­mum goal. I like to see peo­ple do it three times a week but I know it’s a stretch for a lot of peo­ple. If peo­ple aren’t fish eaters, they could get their omega 3 fatty acids through flaxseeds or wal­nuts.


Q: How can when we eat af­fect our en­ergy or mood through­out the day? A: A lot of times peo­ple eat too of­ten within the day which makes you more tired be­cause you’re di­gest­ing food more of­ten. Also some­times peo­ple won’t eat enough through­out the day. They will eat in the morn­ing then eat noth­ing at night. Also when peo­ple eat heavy meals in­stead of small, fre­quent meals then you tend to be more slug­gish as well.

So you when you eat and how you feel af­ter you eat can di­rectly af­fect your mood. I think that’s Whole wheat sliced bread is dis­played. A healthy diet in­clud­ing whole grains can lead to a bet­ter mood and less ir­ri­tabil­ity.

why most of us grav­i­tate to­ward your “com­fort foods,” what­ever that may be when feel­ing lousy or sad. So when we eat them then we feel bet­ter. There’s the same connection to how of­ten we eat. If you don’t eat of­ten enough and your body’s not fu­eled right then you can be­come “hangry,” a com­bi­na­tion of hun­gry and an­gry. Peo­ple ac­tu­ally do be­come ir­ri­ta­ble and an­gry when they are hun­gry. If you’re re­ally busy and you’re not in a nor­mal eat­ing pat­tern, then you may not even re­al­ize that’s one of the causes of why you’re so ir­ri­tated all day long. If you get in a more reg­u­lar rou­tine of try­ing to eat ev­ery three or four hours then your body works bet­ter. Our bod­ies like to work like ma­chines. It works bet­ter on a clock­work sched­ule as op­posed to er­ratic be­hav­ior. If you’re able to eat in a reg­u­lar pat­tern then it can con­trib­ute to you feel­ing bet­ter which can make you less ir­ri­ta­ble.


Q: Why is it rec­om­mended that peo­ple eat ev­ery three to four hours for best health and best mood? A: It’s im­por­tant for keep­ing our me­tab­o­lism up. It keeps you blood sugar sta­ble. It keeps your food com­ing in small, fre­quent amounts. When­ever you over­load your body with calo­ries all at one time, you feel slug­gish. When­ever we eat too lit­tle at a time, it can slow your body down. It’s im­por­tant to eat small, fre­quent meals in the day. Ev­ery­body’s amount that they need is dif­fer­ent and that’s where

nu­tri­tion coun­sel­ing is help­ful. In gen­eral, it’s best to have five to six meals in a day for most peo­ple de­pend­ing on how long they’re awake.


Q: How can de­pres­sion lead to se­ri­ous heart con­di­tions if not man­aged? A: We see a link be­cause when we’re de­pressed then we tend to eat more poorly. When we eat poorly, it’s di­rectly im­pact­ing our body’s health. When we’re eat­ing a diet that’s high in fat, specif­i­cally sat­u­rated fat and trans fat, it’s go­ing to di­rectly im­pact blood choles­terol lev­els. It will in­crease your poor choles­terol. If you don’t eat enough healthy fats like the omega 3 fatty acids then your good choles­terol will be low. At the end of day, how you’re feel­ing and what you’re choos­ing to eat can di­rectly im­pact your heart health es­pe­cially with high fat or high sugar. Not only a diet high in fat but a diet high in sim­ple sug­ars can lead to heart dis­ease. It all goes hand in hand. One day of bad eat­ing won’t dra­mat­i­cally im­pact your health be­cause it’s about mod­er­a­tion. But we tend to put our­selves in pat­terns and that’s what you re­ally what to be aware of — mak­ing sure you’re not in an un­healthy rut.

Both healthy and un­healthy food can im­pact how we feel through­out the day “The bot­tom line is to eat a bal­anced healthy diet in­cor­po­rat­ing all five of the food groups. Color is key in the fruits and veg­eta­bles goals es­pe­cially in the win­ter months. It’s also im­por­tant to make sure we are eat­ing of­ten enough to give our bod­ies the chance to func­tion prop­erly.” — Court­ney Schoepe, reg­is­tered di­eti­tian


Q: Do peo­ple tend to choose health­ier eat­ing op­tions when they are in a good mood? A: When they’re in a good mood, I think peo­ple are more will­ing to take the ex­tra step to pre­pare their own foods. When you’re de­pressed you feel so lazy. You don’t feel good about your­self so you don’t want to do any­thing for your­self. When you’re lazy, it’s so much eas­ier to drive through the fast food restau­rant to grab some­thing be­cause it’s quicker and eas­ier. Of course when you feel bet­ter then you’re more in­clined to make bet­ter choices.

“The bot­tom line is to eat a bal­anced healthy diet in­cor­po­rat­ing all five of the food groups. Color is key in the fruits and veg­eta­bles goals es­pe­cially in the win­ter months. It’s also im­por­tant to make sure we are eat­ing of­ten enough to give our bod­ies the chance to func­tion prop­erly,” Schoepe said.


David Ryle hands plates of fresh greens to his smil­ing wife Wendy dur­ing a har­vest din­ner held out in the field at their home. Eat­ing healthy foods such as veg­etable can lead to more pos­i­tive feel­ings.


Stu­dents made a healthy snack out of cel­ery and raisins dur­ing a fam­ily Well­ness Night at Barth El­e­men­tary School in Pottstown. Eat­ing healthy and nutri­tious foods can lead to a more pos­i­tive mood.


Green ap­ples are dis­played. The more col­or­ful fruits and veg­eta­bles a per­son eat then the more nu­tri­ents their body is get­ting. A healthy and nutri­tious diet can lead to a bet­ter mood.


Red pep­pers are dis­played. It’s im­por­tant for both chil­dren and adults to eat the rain­bow when choos­ing fruits and veg­eta­bles.


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