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In A Bad Mood? These Foods Will Lift Your Spirits!

Wellness

There are a lot of things that can be the underlying cause of a bad mood. A lack of sleep. Anxiety. Hunger. PMS. Alcohol. Depression. The consumption of too much sugar and/or caffeine. Stress. The list really does go on and on. But there's a theory I read recently about that triggers a bad mood that really caught my attention.

According to a researcher by the name of Roy Baumeister, the reason why a lot of us find ourselves not being in the best of moods is due to, what he calls, "ego depletion". The long short of it is, whenever we're tempted by something (or someone) and we push our willpower to the limit, it drains our cognitive abilities and that results in being irritable, snappy, distant, rude, annoyed—and all of the other things that come with being in a bad mood. (The ego is a trip, ain't it?) So, if you're currently in a bad mood, reflecting on your current struggles with temptation may be something to think about.

But, if you're usually on top of the world, it's been a couple of weeks now and, no matter what you do, you can't seem to get back to your old self again, avoid the urge to Google your way into a diagnosis; see your doctor instead. On the flip side, if you simply woke up on the wrong side of the bed or you know your willpower is running on fumes, there are also plenty of studies to support that your diet can make all of the difference in the world.

So, before you go ham on a co-worker or send a pop-off text that you very well could end up regretting, use your lunch break or make plans to go home to eat a few of these foods. It might be just what you need to get a smile back on your face.

Sweet Potatoes

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Did you know that sweet potatoes are considered to be a perfect food? With good reason too because they contain pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper, beta-carotene, antioxidants and fiber—and that's just for starters! Thanks to all of the nutrients that are in them, sweet potatoes help to keep your heart healthy, boost your immunity, regulate your blood sugar, fuel your brain, reduce anxiety and, due to the fiber, iron and magnesium that's also in sweet potatoes, they are an awesome source of energy too.

There are two main reasons why sweet potatoes can make you feel better. First, the antioxidant beta-carotene that's in them will help to keep free radicals from damaging your brain. Secondly, sweet potatoes can lower oxidative stress which is directly linked to stress and anxiety.

Mood Booster: A "happy way" to enjoy sweet potatoes is to DIY some sweet potato flatbread (leave a comment in the comments section if you actually do end up making some because, I'm telling you, it's delicious!).

Salmon

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I don't know about you, but salmon is one of my favorite foods. It's got omega-3 fatty acids, is a wonderful source of protein, it contains just about every kind of B vitamin you can think of and it's loaded with both potassium and selenium. Something that's really cool about salmon is, thanks to the protein that's in it, it can help to control your appetite so that you can maintain your weight. It's also the kind of food that fights inflammation.

Salmon will put a smile on your face because, the more omega-3 that you consume, the more you increase the chances of not experiencing depression-related symptoms. Salmon also has the ability to keep your brain flexible; this matters because the more "flexible" your brain is, the more effective your brain's neurotransmitters are.

Mood Booster: One way to feel joy in your soul again is to try this honey-soy salmon recipe out.

Bananas

Photo by Jonathan Colon

Protein. Fiber. Potassium. Vitamins B6 and C. Manganese. Copper. Every time you eat a banana, this is what you're putting into your system. It's another kind of food that maintains blood sugar levels as it improves digestive and kidney health. Something else that's cool about bananas is if you're someone who works out, the potassium in this particular fruit is able to reduce muscle soreness and cramping. Bananas are also loaded with (the good kind of) carbohydrates which means that peeling one on your lunch break is one of the quickest ways to get you through the rest of the day.

One more thing—the tryptophan and folate that are in them will regulate your moods and help to reduce depression symptoms too. Eat up!

Mood Booster: Wanna get out of that funky mood in under an hour? How about some banana oatmeal pancakes for breakfast?

Olive Oil

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If you don't already have a bottle of olive oil in your pantry, cop a couple of 'em. Olive oil has omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, vitamins E and K and anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-cancer properties in it. Bottom line, if you want to keep your heart, joints and brain in good shape, olive oil will help to make that happen.

On the good mood tip, olive oil is able to boost your body's serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter chemical that is connected to your brain's appetite, sexual desire, sleep, memory and yes—your moods.

Mood Booster: It's OK to treat yourself to a little bread (especially if it's naan or pita) every once in a while. When you do, lift your spirits with a little olive oil dipping sauce.

Quinoa

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Quinoa is a seed that is usually mistaken for a grain (including by me). Anyway, if you're looking for the kind of food that is pretty much a multivitamin in a bowl, quinoa's got you. For starters, it's got manganese, thiamine, zinc, phosphorus, folate, copper, riboflavin, magnesium, protein and vitamin E all up in it. If you're looking for a gluten-free food, quinoa qualifies as being that as well. A food that reduces body inflammation, quinoa can hook you up with that too. Quinoa is also the kind of food that keeps your bones healthy and strong.

Something else that's great about quinoa is it's the kind of food that is packed with protein, along with amino acids. So, if you know that lately you've been consuming foods that have your blood sugar levels on a roller coaster ride (eh hem, like basically any kind of white starch or sugar), you can rely on quinoa to level you out and stabilize your moods in the process.

Mood Booster: I don't know how you couldn't lighten up after having a mango quinoa burrito bowl.

Ghee Butter

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If you're not familiar with what ghee butter is, it's basically like a form of clarified butter; only it's simmered over heat a bit longer. The end result is the kind of butter that is packed with vitamins E and K, linoleic acid (a fatty acid that reduces body fat and inflammation), butyric acid (a fatty acid that maintains gut health) and Vitamin K2 that helps to keep tooth decay at bay.

Another awesome thing about ghee butter is it has ojas in it. If you take yoga, you probably know that an oja is an Ayurveda term that stands for "life force". They are what's able to reduce stress and detox the body from things that are related to poor diet and nutrition. So yeah, you can't go wrong with putting a teaspoon or two of ghee butter into your food.

Mood Booster: You can find ghee butter at your local grocery store (or on Amazon). But if you want to take a stab at making some at home, you can find a step-by-step recipe right here.

Seaweed

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Seaweed is a form of algae; that's true. But it's also a type of food that shouldn't be slept on. It contains iodine and tyrosine which is great for your thyroid, along with fiber, riboflavin, thiamin, manganese and copper. Something else that seaweed gives you is a good dose of the carotenoid fucoxanthin; it has 13.5 times the amount of antioxidants that are found in vitamin E and it's what protects cell membranes better than vitamin A does. (Just make sure to consume seaweed in moderation; especially if you have an iodine sensitivity.)

The reason why seaweed makes the "happy food list" is because it's another food that has a lot of tryptophan in it. The more tryptophan you have, the better (and sometimes sleepier), you'll feel.

Mood Booster: Love on yourself—and that mood of yours—with a little seaweed risotto.

Red Wine

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If you don't currently have a bottle of red wine in your house, get at least one. It's packed with antioxidants that fight off free radicals, it builds up your immune system, increases bone density, fights heart disease, reduces the risk of having a stroke, cancer and type 2 diabetes too.

And just how is red wine proven to improve your moods? Well, it releases the neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine and opioid peptides. After that happens, red wine gives you a euphoric feeling. Just make sure to try this tip once you get off work. Sometimes euphoria can be mistaken for tipsy or even lit, if you know what I mean.

Mood Booster: Got a little time on your hands? Make some vegan ragu that has red wine in it for you and a friend while sharing stories that will make each other laugh.

Honey

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Honey is literally one of the sweetest things for your health. Not only does it taste delicious, but the benefits are endless. Honey is full of antioxidants, can help to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels, will give you an energy boost during the day and is a great sleep agent at night, suppresses coughing, manages weight, fights allergy symptoms, relieves nausea, improves diabetes, promotes good bacteria in intestines…girrrl, honey is pure bomb.

And yes, honey is another food that is able to get you into a good mood, thanks to the polyphenols that's in it. In fact, if you want to read how honey benefits you holistically, there's a pretty interesting study on it here.

Mood Booster: I'll just say this and then drop the mic: HONEY. LAVENDER. POPSICLES. **Are you smilin' yet?**

Raisins

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Nature's candy. A lot of us remember growing up and hearing that phrase as it relates to raisins, but what it all boils down to is it's dried-up grapes. What makes raisins a pretty cool snack is it contains iron, copper, B-complex vitamins, catechins (which fight off free radicals), fiber, magnesium and potassium. Something else that raisins have in them are polyphenolic phytochemicals which are not only antibacterial agents, but they are also great at maintaining eye health.

The reason why this particular dry fruit rounds out the lift-your-spirits list is because I recently read an article that said sad people tend to eat a lot of chocolate while happy people are constantly chopping on raisins. I'm not sure about all-a-dat but I'm not a scientist. Anyway, if you're feeling low, a handful of nature's candy is a lot worth a shot!

Mood Booster: If you like to watch someone prepare a meal and then make it yourself, you'll absolutely dig Tish Wonder's YouTube channel. The recipe that has plenty raisins in it is her red lentil coconut curry. Enjoy!

Featured image by Getty Images

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You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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