Real good mood food nourishes your body and feeds your soul. Try these foods to fight depression or to just lift your mood.
Are you feeling a bit of a post-holiday slump? After all of the excitement, adjusting back to real life can be tough, and getting back into the swing in the midst of cold, dark winter weather doesn’t make it any easier. Check our our lists of mood-boosting foods that can give you a little help!
10 Mood-Boosting Foods
1. Black Beans – These little nutritional powerhouses are rich in protein and selenium. Selenium actually primes your brain to better handle stress, which can go a long way in helping you handle negative emotions.
2. Chia Seeds – Chia is packed with healthy nutrients, including omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have linked a diet rich in omega 3s with reduced incidence of depression. Check out our list of chia recipes right here!
3. Oatmeal – A steamy bowl of oatmeal just screams “comfort food!” doesn’t it? Not only do oats just feel cozy when you eat them, but that blast of complex carbs helps your brain release the stress-reducing amino acid tryptophan. Just don’t pair those oats with protein – like nuts – because the protein can block this particular benefit.
4. Avocado – Avocado is another superfood that’s beneficial in lots of different ways. One way that it can help your mood is by providing dietary copper, which can help you sleep better. And we all know that a well-rested you is a happier you!
5. D-Fortified Foods – A big part of what our bodies miss about the sun is that dose of vitamin D, so grab a fortified glass of orange juice or soy milk, and get happy!
6. Kale – Give your body an iron boost with this dark, leafy powerhouse! Iron deficiency can make you feel totally listless.
7. Flax Meal – Flax seeds not only give you mood-boosting omega 3s, but they give you a healthy dose of vitamin B6, which can improve your mood. Just remember: your body can’t digest whole flax seeds, so grind those suckers up before adding them to your yogurt, green smoothie, oatmeal, or muffin recipe.
8. Dark Chocolate – Good-quality dark chocolate – in moderation – can give your brain a boost. Don’t reach for a Hershey bar, though! Instead, spring for a high quality dark chocolate bar and eat 1-2 squares. The fewer ingredients the better! A good bar of chocolate only needs cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. Everything else is filler. Less is more, since chocolate does contain quite a bit of sugar, and too much sugar can contribute to mood swings and depression.
9. Lentils – Folate deficiency has been linked to depression, so serve up a bowl of folate-rich lentils to help improve your mood.
10. B12-Fortified Foods – Low B12 levels can really bum your body out! Luckily, lots of common foods are fortified with this important B vitamin. Try adding nutritional yeast to your soup or salad, or grabbing a bowl of fortified cereal, yogurt, or non-dairy milk for a little B12 kick.
Beyond Diet: More Natural Mood-Boosters
Of course, just changing your diet probably isn’t going to be enough to totally shake the winter blues, but combine some good mood food with some other changes in your habits, and you can make things easier on yourself. Here are a few non-food ideas that can also help:
Exercise – Even better? Exercise outdoors, if you can. I always have a rough time forcing myself to brave the cold for a walk or a run, but once you get moving, soaking up that sunlight and getting the blood pumping does wonders. Even if it’s overcast, that bit of sunlight can really help!
Go Full Spectrum – One of the reason we get bummed in winter is because our bodies miss sunlight. Try picking up a full-spectrum light bulb and using it in the room where you spend the most time.
Treat Yourself – So often we spend the holidays in giving mode, don’t we? From opening our homes to friends and families to making and buying gifts. Now that the craziness is over, do something for you! It’s called “self care,” and it doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming.
Try Meditation – This could go under the self care category, but meditating can help calm your mind and help put your winter blues in perspective. Check out this guided meditation focused on helping you move beyond happiness!