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COVID-19 Experience: Foods To Boost Your Mood

Here we are in the middle of what I’m calling the Summer of COVID-19, and there seems to be no end in sight to the pandemic crisis. I thought that, living as I previously did, acting as primary caregiver for my elderly Mom, I was was already inoculated against cabin fever – but I was wrong…

Eating Dark Chocolate - © thedieteticdegustation.blogspot.comBoosting your mood may be as easy as adding some Pure
Dark Chocolate to your COVID-19 Lock Down Diet…

During a weekly phone chat yesterday with a friend in another city to share personal news, I was shocked to realize that I hadn’t been any farther outside of my own house than to pick up the morning paper off the front porch in more than six weeks! Not a doctor’s appointment, nor a trip to the pharmacy, nor a run t0 the grocery store or even a solitary walk around the block.

How could this have happened, I wondered? My wise and insightful conversation partner had the answer: Sister Erin somehow gravitated to doing the out-of-house chores, such as grocery shopping, banking and picking up the mail, while I stayed home, catering to Mom’s usual, daily procedural support needs and somewhat-increased emotional support requirements during the pandemic ‘watch’.

No wonder I was finally becoming aware of the unrelenting stress. My first response to that revelation was, “How can I update my eating habits to help counterbalance the Lock Down Blues?” fortunately, an appropriate lifestyle news story – originating from my own back yard, so to speak – was just a couple of clicks away on the Net.

Just knowing you’re not alone helps…

I was immediately pleased to learn – simply from the presence of the news story – that I wasn’t alone in my woes. And I was further gratified, as I read on, that the suggestions that were being made by the experts the author was quoting were neither too odd, too expensive, too time-intensive nor simply too complicated to implement. Long-time readers of this blog will know that I’m a big fan of common sense, and that’s exactly what the article offered.

Change of scenery complements change of diet

Even before getting into suggestions for emotion-bolstering foods, Ottawa specialist Rachel Caven of Caven Nutrition Group told CTV News Ottawa that one thing we can all do to freshen up our mood is to simply get some fresh air: “Go for a walk, get some sunshine, wave to people from a distance.” That was something I’ve definitely been missing. Erin has always been in charge of walking Riley the Wonder Dog, but I used to have my own morning walk routine which did a lot to help set me up for the rest of my day.

And now, thanks to COVID-19, Mom has become more needy. She gets nervous if I’m more than a shout away. And she’s become paranoid (as I am sure other elderly people have) about me going out at all, lest I contract the dreaded Virus and bring it home to her. But, on concerted reflection, I think I have a solution. Our house has a rear deck accessible from my bedroom out onto which her bedroom window looks. I’ll see if she’d like to start having morning Coffee and the newspaper, which we share, out there. I know. It’s a small thing bur it’s a start.

Given a 10-minute break from Mom’s routine, I could start adding a walk to the corner and back every weekday afternoon to check the mail box.

Set a routine and stick to it

But the important thing, Caven says, is eating enough of the right foods. While some of us – yours included at least every second day on average, now – have slipped into the habit of snacking at random times through the day, and Caven says that’s bad. One of the most important things you can do to boost your mood, she says is plan to have three proper meals a day. You get together with other family members/lock down partners on a regular basis, and maintaining any kind of regular routine is important to maintaining a sense of security and a connection with the rest of the world.

And get enough of the right foods!

Cavan offers the following focal points:

Make sure you incorporate some Protein in every meal.

Eat Fish (eg. – Salmon, Trout, Tuna, Sardines) at least three times a week. Or take a Fish Oil supplement. Omega 3 Fatty Acid is is linked to lower levels of depression, Cavan notes, and your body can’t make it, so you have to get it through food. Fish Oil is a great source.

Caven says complex carbohydrates (eg. – Sweet Potato, Oats, Bananas) are, “full of fibre to help stabilize your blood sugar and keep your mood consistent throughout the day.”

Coffee and Dark Chocolate can both boost your mood directly thanks to their Caffeine content. Dark Chocolate is also rich in mood-boosting compounds including flavonoids and theobromine.

Fermented foods (eg.- Yogurt, Kefir, Kombucha) can help your body produce serotonin, a ‘feel good neurotransmitter’.

Drink plenty of water. (See picture, top of page.)

That final suggestion sounds simple and easy to follow. But many folks (whether they’re just doing the Couch Potato thing or working from home) are slipping into another bad habit. Seems the sun is transiting the old yardarm earlier and earlier each afternoon in some households. Too much Alcohol can lead to a number of problems, not the least of which is dehydration – the root of a whole laundry list of diet-based health issues.

So there you have it…

Some simple, easy suggestions for combating COVID-19 Lock Down diet-based stress. Thanks, again to Ms Cavan and CTV…

~ Maggie J.