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The moody foods

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What you eat and when can impact how you feel

If your typical day starts with several taps of the snooze button, followed by a sudden panic attack that you’re going to be late for work, followed by a rushed pulling on of pants and a quick bath in the sink on your way out the door, chances are you’re going to be eating breakfast on the run this morning.

So you stop by a coffee place on the way to work and grab a cup of joe and a few pastries to tide you over until lunch – if it has berries in it you might actually convince yourself you’re getting some nutrients.

And then you wonder why you’re grumpy this morning. A co-worker might ask you if you got up on the wrong side of the bed or what, that is if they’re not afraid you’ll lunge over your desk and staple their lips together.

By the time morning break rolls around, you’re hungry and tired again and grab another baked item and cup of coffee to pick yourself up. By lunch time, you’re ready to go home and go back to bed.

Here’s the thing: it’s not your fault and while you’d like to blame it on your job, the fluorescent lights, your computer screen, the change of seasons, or the fact you’re just not a morning person, the answer could be far simpler.

It turns out that there’s a right way and a wrong way to start your day and it all begins in the kitchen.

Scientists are learning how the foods we eat can actually alter our brain chemistry, which can also influence our moods. To start a day on the right side of the bed, you have to start with the right foods in the right portions.

A good breakfast can increase alertness, energy and vitality. A bad breakfast can result in depression, fatigue, insomnia, mental dullness, PMS symptoms (yikes), irritability and stress.

Your breakfast danish may give you a short burst of energy and fill the hole, but when the sugar rush dies and the simple carbohydrates are processed you’re going to crash. You feel hungry again, even though you’ve consumed enough calories to get through two mornings. Hunger makes you grumpy, as does the fact that eating another danish is going to result in some weight gain.

The coffee might make you feel alert, but unless you hang out at the coffee machine all day, twitching as you pour yourself cup after cup, you’re going to crash at some point – what goes up must come down. Caffeine is also a diuretic, and after a few cups you’re going to feel thirsty and dehydrated. Dehydrated people are generally sluggish in mind and body, and can be on the irritable side.

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