I have a dinner table dilemma and it doesn’t revolve around discussing politics. See, I know what I should eat to improve my mood; there is ample research supporting the mental health benefits of numerous foods. Here’s the rub: though I will eat almost anything, my kids are a picky lot. I haven’t got the time or desire to fix two separate meals so I’ve found three good mood foods that my kids will actually eat.
My daughter loves guacamole. Frankly, so do I, but what I love even more is the fact that avocados contain a number of the nutrients—Omega 3, folate, B vitamins—shown to improve mental health. Just one cup of avocado contains more than half as much Omega 3 fatty acids as the 300mg krill oil supplement I’ve started taking every morning. Eating guacamole as an afternoon snack is a whole lot more pleasant than downing a pill.
We used to think the L-tryptophan in turkey made many of us head to the couch for an after-feast snooze on Thanksgiving. While turkey has been largely dismissed as a soporific, additional research has shown L-tryptophan can help battle depression. Present in all sources of protein but particularly high in turkey, L-tryptophan gets processed into serotonin; virtually all of the most prescribed anti-depressants regulate serotonin. I make a turkey breast now and then and keep a supply of sliced turkey in the cold cut section of the fridge.
Another good source of L-tryptophan is cheese. No problem getting it into my family. My daughter has her own cheese grater for Parmesan and puts enough on her pasta to make it look like one of our midwestern blizzards hit her plate. My son will buy pepper jack cheese with his own money. And my husband? Let’s just say we need to label the kids’ favorite cheeses.
I continue to take my prescribed medications, but added more turkey, avocado and cheese to my diet. I can’t help thinking it increased my ability to bounce back quickly from a recent major setback. Being more resilient makes me a better parent as well as making it more likely that I’ll make my famous macaroni and cheese for dinner. I just won’t tell the kids that it’s actually good for our mental health.