Have you ever wondered how your food can affect your mood?
When I was a little girl, my grandma told me that food was medicine and she really believed it. I mean she lived by the concept that food heals.
If I had a headache, she would make me eat something. If I had a tummy ache, she would tell me to eat something. Heartache… you guessed it. She’d make me something to eat.
I don’t believe that food can solve all of your problems. But I do believe that food and feelings are tied together. I mean why else is there emotional eating?
That’s another discussion for another day. Today I want to focus on how food contributes to your mood.
Does food affect your happiness
Short answer? Yes
There have been multiple studies and research that point to the effect of food on mood.
Your diet can either contribute to negative emotions or help alleviate them.
Diets that primarily consist of fruits, vegetables, complex carbs, proteins and healthy fats are associated with long lasting happiness in people. Whereas foods that are high in fat, carbs, or highly processed given short term happiness but not in long term.
Which is interesting because when were’ feeling stressed or sad, most of us crave and seek out foods high in carbohydrates and fats when.
Meaning to say, yes – eating the greasy double bacon cheeseburger with an extra large fry and milkshake may feel good for the 15 – 20 minutes it takes you to eat it. You feel that satisfaction, that euphoria.
But that feeling fades.
A Healthy Diet for A Good Mood
I hate the term diet if I’m being honest. It yields thoughts of restriction and limitation – at least for me.
So I like to use the word nutrition. How do I nourish my body?
There are many nutrition options out there: AIP, Paleo, Mediterranean, Keto, Vegan, Vegetarian. The list goes on and on.
Each lifestyle has its own quirks so if you’re looking for a recommendation from me, I’d say the best one for you is the one that fits YOUR lifestyle and makes YOU feel YOUR best.
Do your research and find what works for you.
Personally, I’m a fan of balance and wholeness.. a flexitarian of sorts if you will. I listen to my body and try to give it what it’s asking for and what it needs. Somedays that’s a seafood salad. Other days that’s a fully loaded pizza. Maybe my ideals align more with intuitive eating.
If you’re looking for a nutrition plan that includes foods to improve your mood, it should include complex carbs, lean protein sources and lots of produce.
8 Foods to Improve Your mood
The foods below have all been shown to help ease stress, improve mood, relieve anxiety or help fight depression. See what a difference they can make for you.
- Chocolate. Yes. Chocolate does in fact make you happy. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants and over time, consumption can reduce the levels of cortisol and other stress hormones.
- Salmon. Regularly eating salmon and other fatty fish like tuna can help lower anxiety because of their omega-3 fatty acids, a key mood-boosting nutrient and linked with dopamine and serotonin.
- Oats. Oats are a great source of fiber which can level your blood sugar and keep your energy stable reducing irritability and mood swings. You can enjoy when as oatmeal, overnight oats are popular now and granola.
- Green Tea. Sipping a cup of tea can be just the thing to soothe your senses, calm your nerves and brighten a dark mood. That cup of green tea is filled with just enough caffeine to give you a little kick as well as a number of mood-boosting nutrients, like L-theanine, an amino acid that helps fight anxiety.
- Oysters. Oysters are high in zinc, a nutrient that helps ease anxiety and improve sleep quality. Most people are happier when getting proper rest.
- Blueberries. These little berries pack a mood punch. They are full of an antioxidant called flavonoids and help regulate mood, improve memory and protect the brain from aging.
- Spinach. Dark leafy greens like spinach are loaded with magnesium, a mineral that helps reduce anxiety.
- Yogurt. Probiotic-fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut that help keep your gut bacteria in check. Research suggests there is a link between balanced gut bacteria and better mood, less stress and anxiety, and lower risk of depression.
Food for Mood Improvement
These are just a few suggestions but you don’t have to do a complete overhaul of your diet.
If you’re a picky eater like me, there may be a few alternatives for you to try. The goal is to incorporate that mineral or nutrient into your diet vs the food itself. So for example, not into Salmon, try mackerel for Omega 3. Hate spinach, try swiss chard for magnesium. Not into oysters, try cashews, eggs, liver or beef to get in some zinc.
Food without question influences mood and happiness. Food is also a necessity of life – of survival. And it is something within our lives that we can control which is something a lot of us with chronic illnesses struggle with.
The question is are we courageous and wise enough to choose foods that lend to our greater well being?
Food is not just to make you feel good in the act of eating it. Food can improve your mood and should make you feel good by the nutrients it c