You don't have to be PMS-ing to be in a foul mood. Maybe you didn't sleep well. Maybe the neighbor's dog -- not even your own! -- just peed all over your living room carpet. Or you recently realized that instead of heading out for a run, you need to be whipping up a "tasty" peanut-free, gluten-free snack for an entire class of kindergartners who will probably end up not eating it anyway. Irritable? You betcha.
On days when you feel more like growling than speaking, it's easy to make coffee one of your main food groups. But although those lattes might crank you up enough to get you through your miserable day, they won't help your attitude. In fact, caffeine can make your mood even more volatile.
1. Vitamin D foods: A deficiency in vitamin D (which is surprisingly common) can lead to not only irritability, but also depression or even functional G/I disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, says Francioli.
For that reason, fill your diet with D-rich foods: salmon, catfish, flounder, egg yolks, mushrooms, and dark leafy greens. Other surprising sources include liver (mmm?) and butter, but don't go nuts slathering it on your toast since it's high in saturated fat, which won't do your body any favors.
Vitamin D, eh? you might be thinking about now. Why don't I just take a supplement? Fine, but "toxicity can become an issue if vitamin D in supplemental form is taken in large amounts," notes Francioli. That's why it's important to talk to your nutritionist or doctor about the amount of D you need to stay healthy. You don't want to overdo it.
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2. B-rich foods: "Foods containing B vitamins help improve mental health, restore important neurotransmitter functions, and improve nerve function, which can lead to less irritability," Francioli explains. People who have a B-12 deficiency can feel not only pissy, but also agitated and depressed. B-3 (niacin) is another vitamin superstar. "It's important for normal brain function and helps the nervous system function well," says Francioli.
Foods high in B-12 to throw in your shopping cart? Not necessarily in the order of what you like to eat: meat, trout, herring, mackerel, crabs, scallops, shrimp, oysters, egg yolks, and live-culture yogurt.
B-3 winners include not only fish, but also poultry, peanuts, baker's yeast, nutritional yeast, dried beans, peas, avocados, dates, figs, wheat germ, milk, and eggs.
3. Tryptophan-loaded foods: You might know tryptophan as the stuff in turkey that makes you sleepy, but when we don't have enough tryptophan in our bodies, "we don't make as much serotonin, which can leave us down in the dumps," says Francioli. (Serotonin, FYI, is a neurotransmitter associated with positive moods.)
Bananas are a super-good source of trytophan. Other foods that contain it include tofu, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, legumes, poultry, shrimp, and Parmesan.
And here you were, thinking you didn't know what to make for dinner! You can thank us later when you're not feeling so, um, touchy.
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