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Our moods may fluctuate due to various factors. We get a bad grade and feel depressed or win a contest and feel elated. We feel guilty over hurting a friend or feel ten feet tall after being kind to an old person needing help. However, sometimes we may experience mood swings that are difficult to account for. Our circumstances may seem rosy, yet we still feel apathetic and depressed. These mood alterations might be influenced by diets. Scientific research establishes connections between food and mood.
Malnourished teens certainly experience some unhappy moods. Insufficient protein intake produces a weak feeling, and low blood sugar triggers painful hunger and irritability. Even skipping a single meal may trigger an emotional outburst or flood of unpleasant feelings in some teens. Therefore, growing teens, especially those who are very active mentally or physically, may need periodic snacks as well as three "square" meals a day to keep their energy levels high and moods positive.
If you want to feel more relaxed or sleepy, you may want to try taking high carbohydrate, low protein foods an hour before bedtime. Carbohydrates have been observed to produce such effects on the brain. You should not choose a food high in both nutrients (carbohydrates and protein), for even a moderate amount of protein can wipe out the carbohydrate effect. Caffeine from coffee, tea, soda, chocolate, and certain medications can also counter the carbohydrate effect.
Note that a carbohydrate snack adds calories. If you are trying to maintain or lose weight, you might want to eat a lower-calorie meal to have this late-night snack.
This page has been authored for participation in
the 1997 Thinkquest Competition.