Happy Diwali everyone! Today is a perfect day to talk about foods that make us feel happy. It’s a day of sharing, giving and spreading happiness. Isn’t it! But if one is feeling blue inside, one cannot really revel in this fantastic festival the right way. Can one? So the first aim should be to make ‘self’ happy and then spread the joy.
The answer apparently lies in your refrigerator. No, you don’t need to gorge on fattening, sugar-loaded snacks to get that feel-good…I have shortlisted 5 smart foods that are sure to lift your spirits and let you enjoy Diwali the way it should be – Happily!
1. Go Bananas
The reason why bananas rank as a feel-good food is due to the high levels of tryptophan and tyrosine it contains. They’re both precursors to “happy” neurotransmitters – serotonin and dopamine! Plus, it’s rich in potassium – a mineral vital for nerve functions, and also contains natural sugars that are quickly released into the bloodstream, making one feel energetic. Bananas have the right kinds of carbohydrates that release instant energy into the body, just when you need it (that’s why you see top-level athletes munching on bananas during competitions).
Get the power: Add a few slices to cold cereal; make a smoothie with yoghurt or milk; reach for it in the late afternoon for a quick perk-me-up; add to a fruit salad; or try a peanut butter and banana sandwich drizzled with honey.
2. Bite into an apple
An apple is an incredible mood-boosting food. That’s because this fruit derives almost all of its natural sweetness from fructose, a simple sugar that’s broken down slowly, especially when combined with the fruit’s hefty dose of fibre. This keeps blood sugar levels stable and your mood buoyant. So an apple a day not only keeps your friendly GP away, but also the psychiatrist!
Get the power: Have one every evening as a snack; add it to salads and cereals; and when looking for an alternative to sweet desserts, try sliced apples and cheese.
3. Munch on Figs
An excellent source of potassium and fibre, figs are a good source of Vitamin B6 as well, which is responsible for producing mood-boosting serotonin. And if you’re on the (oral contraceptive) Pill, go on a fig overdrive, since the Pill depletes B6 levels in the body. Fresh figs are not that easily available in our country (except hill stations), but dried figs are in abundance, so snack on these. You also get a lot of calcium from figs, which translates into strong bones, so no aches and pains when doing festive shopping or Diwali party hopping too.
Get the power: Add figs to oats and porridges, homemade muffins, cakes and salads; eat dried figs as a healthy energy snack; stew dried figs in fruit juice; spread fig butter on toast, rice cakes, or crackers (make this by boiling dried figs in fruit juice until soft, then blend in a processor until smooth).
4. Sip Tea
As you sip it, you can feel the calm descend…that’s because tea leaves contain the amino acid theamine that’s full of mind-relaxing properties. And if you make the cup green or herbal (sage, cinnamon, cardamom), you get medicinal advantages as well: easy digestion, relieved throat, improved blood circulation.
Get the power: Drinking herbal tea is a healthy addiction; drink 2-3 cups a day.
5. Score probiotics
The bacteria sitting in your gut are mind altering too. Studies have shown how regular probiotics in the diet help cut down on sad thoughts and rumination (over-thinking or obsess on the negative).
Get the Power: Include probiotic milk and other probiotic foods in your diet.
Kavita Devgan is a Nutritionist, Weight Management Consultant and Health Writer based in Delhi. She contributes to the column Kavita’s Korner every Wednesday for this blog.
Follow her on Twitter here: @kavitadevgan