When you’re feeling down in the dumps, you may reach for that piece of candy, a cookie or a bag of chips. But those foods don’t actually make you feel better at all – in fact, they make you feel worse because you end up feeling guilty for eating them in the first place. So the next time you feel sluggish or depressed, try eating one of these good mood foods instead. They’re good for you and they’ll make you feel good about eating them.
If you have a sweet tooth, have a piece of dark chocolate. It’s rich in the mineral magnesium, which helps to reduce anxiety and relax the muscles. If you have a big presentation or a job interview coming up, make sure you have a piece of dark chocolate on hand to help calm your nerves. Just make sure it’s an actual piece of dark chocolate and not a dark chocolate candy bar or a sugar-filled truffle.
Nuts are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which ward off depression and fatigue. Some studies show that they might also have therapeutic benefits for children who are depressed. Since nuts are easily portable, bring a can of them to work to ward off those afternoon slumps and to put yourself in a better mood on those not-so-good days.
Salmon is another good source of omega 3s, which can also boost your memory and your ability to concentrate. If you’re not a salmon-lover, mackerel, sardines and other types of oily fish can be substituted in its place. Salmon is a great food to eat before the big test. You can eat it for dinner the night before, or you can put small strips of it in an omelet for breakfast.
Chicken is a great source of protein, which will keep you fuller for a longer period of time. It will also slow the absorption of carbohydrates in the blood, so you’ll also feel happier and more productive for a longer period of time. Protein is better to eat in the morning because it will sustain you throughout the day, so be sure to incorporate it into your breakfast.
Another good source of protein is eggs, which are already a breakfast staple. Eggs are also rich in vitamins and minerals such as choline, selenium and vitamin B. The yolks themselves contain vitamin D, a vitamin in which many people are deficient. Vitamin D can increase the body’s level of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates your mood. Because of this, some researchers believe that vitamin D may be able to help treat those with mood disorders, particularly those with Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.
Greek yogurt has increased in popularity over regular yogurt for many reasons. It’s thicker than regular yogurt, which some people prefer. It’s also high in protein and very low in fat. Lastly, it’s a great source of probiotics, which boosts your immune system as well as your mood.
If you don’t like to eat your yogurt plain, mix some fresh berries into it. Berries contain high amounts of the nutrients anthocyanidin and anthocyanin, which can reduce stress and depression. They’re also good sources of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium and folate.
You can also mix your favorite berries into a steaming bowl of oatmeal, which will also stick to your ribs and keep you fuller longer. Oatmeal is also rich in B12 and folate, another B vitamin. Some studies have linked low levels of these B vitamins to depression. Researchers believe that these vitamins may play a role in serotonin production, and therefore, they may also be a good treatment supplement for those who have mood disorders. Oats are also a good source of soluble fiber, which slows the absorption of sugar in the blood. This will prevent you from having violent mood swings throughout the day.
Lentils are a legume that come in hulled and non-hulled varieties. Lentils are another strong source of folate and they’re also rich in iron, fiber, copper and manganese. You can add them to soups and stews or you can cook them and serve them as a side dish.
Tea is chock full of antioxidants and green tea in particular is a good source of the antioxidant theanine, which has calming properties. Plus, what’s more soothing at the end of a long day than a cup of hot tea?
Eating often also keeps your mood in check, because when you’re hungry, it’s easy to lose focus and become snippy with your friends, family and co-workers. More importantly, limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks and refined starches, which can be found in white bread and crackers, bagels and rice. They’ll make your blood sugar spike and then drop, causing you to fall into a not-so-good mood.