The food choices we make have a major impact on our overall physical health. But some foods can also affect your mood and state of mind.
- Carbohydrates release serotonin (the “feel good” hormone). Choosing complex carbs over simple carbs helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and avoid a crash while still providing serotonin.
- Complex carbs – vegetables, berries, beans, whole grains, oat
- Simple carbs – candy, soda, syrups, table sugar, added sugar
- Protein-rich foods release dopamine and norepinephrine, which boost energy and concentration. Healthy protein-rich foods include lean meat, poultry, legumes, and dairy.
- Omega-3 fatty acids (like those found in fatty fish) have been found to have anti-inflammatory effects that extend to your overall health and lower your risk of depression.
- Fermented foods (kimchi, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and sauerkraut) contain probiotics that support the growth of healthy bacteria in your gut and may increase serotonin levels.
- Limiting your intake of highly processed and deep-fried foods can help you avoid feeling down, and so will skipping meals.
If you want to eat with your mood in mind, consider starting with making one food choice for your mood each day. For example, swap a big, sweet breakfast pastry for Greek yogurt with fruit. You’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, and the protein will help you avoid a mid-morning energy crash.
*It’s important to note many factors affect mood – stress, environment, poor sleep, genetics, mood disorders, and nutritional deficiencies.