WASHINGTON, DC – (July 2, 2009) – Looking for a way to improve your mood? Surprisingly, the answer may lie in what is on your plate. According to the American Dietetic Association (ADA), what we eat can have an impact on how we feel. Likewise, how we feel can influence our food choices, encouraging a cycle of mood swings. But there is a way around this – eating for a good mood is entirely possible and it just so happens to be healthy.

“Most of the time people don’t consider what they had to eat that day when they are feeling down, but it really has a big impact,” explains Enzo Febbraro, the co-owner and executive chef of D’Acqua Ristorante, located in Washington, D.C. “Our food choices are not only powerful in terms of caring for our bodies, but they also help regulate our blood sugar levels and keep our moods in check.”

Foods can have many effects on our bodies, including everything from calming, to pepping, and even making one feel a bit on the depressed side. Some foods such as candy may help someone feel better in the short term, but actually cause the person to “crash” shortly thereafter. Making wise food decisions, especially when you are feeling stressed out or having an afternoon snack attack, can make a big difference in how you feel the rest of the day.

To help achieve a good mood from your food, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Reaching for complex carbohydrates when you are stressed or want to snack will help boost serotonin levels and give you a nutritional edge, according to the ADA.
  • Foods that help keep you on the path to good mood include fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, brown rice, and lentils.
  • Reduce or limit the amount of refined and processed foods you consume, which includes crackers, bagels, white breads and pastas, white rice, soda, fruit juice, and candy. Such foods will not help keep your blood sugar level regulated, which can lead to unfavorable changes in your mood.
  • Try to include some form of protein with each meal or snack, which will keep you feeling better for longer. Ideal choices include low-fat yogurt, fish (salmon, mackerel, and sardines), seafood, tofu, and eggs.
  • Getting enough omega-3’s in your diet can help keep you in the right frame of mind as well. You can get them through walnuts, fish, and ground flaxseed.
  • Other nutrients that help improve mood include folate and vitamin B12. You can get those through whole grain cereals, wheat germ, broccoli, lentils, and oatmeal, as well as shellfish and fortified soy milk and tofu. 
  • Getting enough vitamin D is also important when it comes to mood. You can get it by getting 15 minutes of sunlight each day. For those that do not live in sunny areas, they should take a supplement or vitamin each day.
  • Reduce the amount of caffeine you consume, especially as it gets closer to bed time. Caffeine can have a big impact on one’s mood and prevent you from getting adequate sleep.
  • Always include a good multivitamin to help ensure you are getting any nutrients you may be missing out on in your diet.
  • Beyond diet, getting enough exercise, access to sunlight and relaxation, can also help keep you feeling good mentally.

“Spend a week tracking how you feel an hour after each meal and you will be surprised to see the impact that food has on your mood,” adds Febbraro. “If you want to stay in a positive frame of mind, start with what you are eating each day.”

About D’Acqua Ristorante

D’Acqua Ristorante, owned by Chefs Enzo Febbraro and Francesco Ricchi, is located at 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW in Washington D.C. The restaurant, which features a coastal Italian menu with a seafood emphasis, was opened by the two highly acclaimed chefs in 2006, and has quickly earned great reviews. Enzo, a native of Naples, Italy, has traveled throughout Europe, preparing dishes at high-end restaurants and hotels. Francesco, a Florentine native, has worked for a number of award-winning establishments, and has also hosted President George W. Bush. The restaurant is a popular political dining establishment that is frequented by the Washington elite, including senators, members of congress, and White House staff. To learn more about D’Acqua Ristorante, visit the Web site at www.dacquadc.com.