Mood-Lifting Foods

January 30, 2017

By Kate Crosby, BS, CNP

article_brain-mentalhealth_couplesmiling.jpgYou may think the secret to lifting your moods is to indulge in that ice cream sundae, but as a nutritional consultant, I know the true secret lies in eating mood-enhancing foods. Many foods and nutrients affect your moods, but protein is one of the most important because it boosts your brain chemicals. Let me explain how protein helps create balanced moods.

The power of protein

Protein in chicken, eggs or fish provides the building blocks for making the critical brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine. These brain chemicals help you feel calm, happy or motivated, but they can't be made from an ice cream sundae. Many people believe that antidepressant medications like Prozac or Paxil make brain chemicals, but in fact they don't. Your body makes serotonin and dopamine from salmon, steak and chicken.

If you are experiencing low moods, it's important to eat protein throughout the day to provide your brain with a steady supply of nutrients to make serotonin and dopamine. When my clients eat this way, they comment that their moods are better.

Try it and see for yourself!

If you want to achieve better moods, try eating this way:

  • For breakfast, eat a couple of eggs and a nitrate-free sausage (protein) with vegetables (carbohydrate) and a little butter (healthy fat).
  • For lunch, add a chicken breast to your salad.
  • For dinner, enjoy a hamburger with cooked broccoli and wild rice at dinner.
  • For a mood-lifting snack between meals, eat cheese, grapes and almonds.

If you feel low or you get irritable more easily than you would like, continue this eating plan for a couple of weeks.

When I teach the Weight & Wellness Class Series, I love to see how students' moods improve. Time and again, by class three students come to class looking and feeling better. They look bright eyed, have good humor, and are motivated and more confident. It's amazing what a difference eating real food makes!

Protein: a critical factor for good moods

There are many nutritional factors that can improve your moods including eating healthy fats, getting adequate B vitamins and zinc, but eating sufficient protein throughout the day is critical. Low moods and feeling blue often can be remedied simply by eating a deviled egg or chicken salad. Remember, healthy proteins provide the building blocks for your brain chemicals, serotonin and dopamine.

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