Mood Boosting Foods To Beat the Post-Op Blues
Only halfway through your first week of post-op recovery and already re-watched every one of your favorite movies? Tired of having to pass up social outings for an evening spent scrolling through social media? If each passing minute of rest and relaxation feels like it drags on for hours on end, you might just be stuck with a bout of the post-op blues. We know the feeling. It may be time to call in the help of some powerful mood boosting foods.
Recovery Can Be Slow
Recovery can be a long and slow process. In fact, the recovery time for some of the most common surgeries can last anywhere from a couple of weeks to more than a year. And while a couple of days spent on little more than Netflix and a good book might seem fun at first, having a plan for getting back on your feet (and out of your pajamas) can be helpful.
Working towards recovery sooner rather than later can help you avoid becoming overly isolated during the healing process. Brainstorming a couple of ideas, and putting in place some tactics to support your overall well-being while you recuperate will help you feel like your best self in no time.
Food Is Your Friend
Fortunately, a healthy snack might be the first step to getting you back to where you’d like to be. Most of us know that food can provide some necessary comfort during difficult or stressful times. However, instead of mindlessly eating to pass time, reach for foods that may support your well-being and promote feelings of relaxation. Rather than poking through the pantry for junk food, try grabbing one of these mood boosting super foods for a mind and body pick-me-up!
Surgery got you feeling down in the dumps? Grab a box of blueberries! These small but mighty superfoods can get you feeling anything but blue. The dark pigmentation of a blueberry’s skin comes from anthocyanin. This powerful antioxidant helps your brain produce dopamine, the neurotransmitter partially responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and happiness. Berries also contain the mood boosting nutrient folate, which plays a role in serotonin production. Serotonin is another “feel good” neurotransmitter that has been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety while promoting relaxation.
Ever wish you could eat all the chocolate you want without the guilt? Here’s your chance! Like berries, chocolate contains mood boosting serotonin. Dark chocolate (something with 70% cocoa or higher, ideally) encourages the body to produce endorphins that can elevate your mood by creating feelings of pleasure. The antioxidants in dark chocolate may also reduce the production of the stress hormone cortisol. So, stick your feet up, grab a blanket, and savor each bite of chocolatey goodness while you get some well deserved R & R.
Asparagus contains high levels of tryptophan. Recall the feeling you had following one too many bites of that Thanksgiving turkey? That sleepy, relaxed sensation is a product of tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in turkey that makes you feel calm. Turns out, there are high levels in asparagus as well. Tryptophan is the key ingredient to produce our friend serotonin, which will give rise to feelings of deep relaxation, calm, and overall well being. It also contains substantial amounts of vitamin B6 and folic acid, both helpful in fending off depression.
High fat fish such as salmon, herring, rainbow trout, tuna or sardines can all provide a boost in serotonin and dopamine levels. The omega-3 fatty acids in these fish are great for overall brain function and mood stabilization. Don’t like fish? Try a high-quality fish oil supplement instead. Some research suggests that a single gram of fish oil daily resulted in a 50% decrease in symptoms of depression and a slight improvement in mood.
Nuts & Seeds
Like fish, nuts are full of good, healthy fats that are great for both your mind and your mood. A recent study published in the ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research linked the intake of one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) to higher levels of serotonin. Not only will this improve your mood, but it will also improve satiety and boost energy. The omega-3 fatty acid called EPA (which is highly present in walnuts, flax, and chia seeds) has been shown to help reduce the symptoms of depression.
Following any surgery or procedure, it can be easy to fall into a funk while out of your normal routine. Fortunately, there are several mood boosting foods that are nutritionally dense to keep you feeling great while you recover. It can be helpful to remember that postoperative blues will be temporary, but eating for health can benefit you long after you’ve healed. With options like chocolate and blueberries, you can’t go wrong reaching for these healthy foods to lift your spirits during recovery and well beyond.
Check out the rest of our blog for other ways to get a spring back in your step after surgery!