Being a mum is hard work and we all get times when it all can get a bit much and you either feel flat out exhausted or in a bad mood, especially when we are running on little sleep and are trying to lose weight and trying to lose stomach fat.
But there are certain foods that can help us with mood and energy and the wonderful Kathleen Alleaume (who is an experienced nutritionist and part of the Dietician Association) who created the nutritional part of our 28 Day Breastfeeding Friendly Diet & Exercise Plan has written an article for Lose Baby Weight on the best foods to boost mood, energy and pregnancy weight loss.

Top Foods For Mood & Energy

Hands up if you could use an energy burst to get through the day? As a busy mum (me included), I’m sure they’re times when you experience dips in your energy through the day and/or feel exhausted by the time you hit the sack. Sound familiar?
There’s no doubting that what we eat and drink affects how we feel – mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. After all, who hasn’t been stressed or upset and wanted nothing other than bowl of ice-cream with caramel sauce to calm down?
But here’s the irony: not only does mood affect how we eat, but what we eat can have a huge impact on how we feel, such as when we beat ourselves up for eating not just one scoop of ice-cream, but almost the entire tub. Can you picture the vicious circle at work here? Allow me to explain a little further.
The key to understanding the connection between the food we eat and our mood lies in understanding a little about how the brain functions. Simply put, your brain houses millions of neurotransmitters (chemicals that transmit messages between nerves). Though there are several chemicals involved, most of the relationship between food and mood centres on serotonin: a chemical responsible for feeling calm and relaxed.

The 3pm Slump

When serotonin levels are low you feel cranky, irritable, tired or even depressed. Predictable slumps in serotonin occur around 3 p.m, which may explain the need for an afternoon nana nap (Yes, I know, hardly likely when you have kids, especially under the age of two), yet instead we reach for the next best therapeutic agent we can find to remedy our fowl mood – the biscuit tin. Here’s why?
Serotonin is formed in the brain from the amino acid tryptophan after we eat carbohydrates – hence the reason why we crave starchy or sugary snacks. Chocolate muffin anyone? A solution that seems like a perfectly natural response at the time compared to banging your head against the wall. I hear you.
Whilst eating too many serotonin-boosting foods might give you instant gratification, the effects, however are short lived leading to a worsening of mood shortly after a high, to then trigger more sugar cravings, mood swings and eventual weight gain.
To prevent this from happening, carbohydrates that are nutrient- and fibre-rich (aka low GI carbs) are much preferable – which is why The Healthy Mummy Smoothie is so great as it is low GI, high protein, high fibre, packed full of nutrients and tasty – you can see my review of the smoothie here. Low GI carbs do not cause a drastic surge in blood sugar followed by a sharp crash, but rather keep blood sugar on a more even keel over time, giving that sustained release of energy to help leave you feeling upbeat and productive for hours after eating, not to mention a balanced mood.

What Foods To Eat

Smart carbohydrate choices include whole grain breads, crackers, most fruits without added sugar, lentils, peas, beans, brown rice, oats, healthy mummy smoothies and low-fat dairy products (yoghurt, cheese).
What’s more, to help slow the absorption of carbohydrate in the blood – hence result in a more steady and consistent serotonin production, you’ll also want to include protein-rich foods with meals and snacks (whenever possible). Smart protein choices include lean red meat, seafood, tofu, eggs and low-fat dairy, fortified, legumes, nuts and seeds.
So if you do experience negative mood patterns, try the following simple practices to help manage blood sugars, optimise energy levels, as well as assist in maintaining adequate levels of serotonin, which results in an enhanced mood and an improved sense of well-being:

  • Limit sugary desserts, confectionary, soft drinks, cakes, and chocolate to only occasional treats.
  • Remember to eat low GI carbohydrates along with protein-containing foods at every meal and snacks.
  • Eat regular meals – ideally every 3 or 4 hours.

Sample breakfast:
Natural muesli with yoghurt and fruit
or Soy and linseed bread with poached egg or peanut butter
or a Lose Baby Weight smoothie
Chicken or tuna and salad on wholegrain wrap
Chickpeas and roasted vegetables with cous cous
Or a Lose Baby Weight Smoothie
Lean steak with steamed mixed veg
Stir-fried chicken with Asian greens and basmati rice.
Wholegrain crackers with cottage cheese an tomatoes
Fruit with low fat yoghurt or trail mix

Here are my top 5 reasons why I recommend The Healthy Mummy Smoothie

1) It’s loaded with fibre. And we all know that one of the most effective ways to manage our weight is to control hunger. So make fibre your friend! Fibre alone contains no kilojoules, and it provides the bulk to your diet that gives you the satisfaction of chewing, plus the feeling of a full stomach. Not only is fibre filling, it also aids digestive health, and helps to relieve bloating (a big plus!).
2) Low GI. Likewise with fibre, low GI foods digest more slowly and stay in your stomach longer. This keeps hunger at bay. As a result, you may eat less and consume fewer kilojoules making it easier to control weight. In addition, low GI foods do not spike your blood sugar levels, making it easier for the body to burn fat.
3) Fabulous fats. The smoothie contains a blend of flaxseed and pumpkin seeds, both of which are rich in ‘good’ fats. Flaxseeds, in particular are high in ‘essential’ fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids. They are called ‘essential’ because they can’t be produced by the body- so must be obtain through food.
4) Low in ‘added sugar’. Unlike many other meal replacements, the Healthy Mummy Smoothie is low in added sugar. Its sweetness comes from fruit sugar and inulin (a type of prebiotics that can help stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut to restore digestive balance).
5) Finally, it satisfying and delicious! I personally adore the chocolate flavour. Every time I drink it, it certainly feels like a treat, without the guilt.
Kathleen Alleaume is a Nutritionist and Exercise Physiologist, and the Author of What’s Eating You? To see more articles from Kathleen click here

If you are ready to lose weight then the Lose Baby Weight plans offer a healthy and safe exercise and diet routine. 

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