8 Mood Boosting Foods

Wednesday, February 12, 2020, in Nutrition, Advice by

Your relationship with food is personal. From the ice cream that soothes your sadness to the bliss balls that picks you up mid-morning. Food makes you feel something.

In fact, numerous studies have shown that food has the power to change your brain’s chemical structure and alter your mood entirely. In the words of Sherry L. Pagoto, associate professor at University of Massachusetts, “The link between emotions and eating is no myth. You can actually eat to feel good.” Eat these 7 mood boosting foods to go to your happy place.


Yep, chocolate may actually have the ability to melt your troubles away. A chemical called anandamide (aka the “bliss chemical”) which is present in raw cacao and raw chocolate has been found to temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression leading to blissful contentment.


This bean can do more than wake you up. Your morning caffeine infusion has been shown to positively influence neurotransmitters in the brain that regulate mood disorders and wellbeing. However, when consumed in excess (greater than 400mg* caffeine a day) it may have negative effects, such as making you feel more anxious and irritable, and impacting sleep quality.

*The average cup of coffee has about 95mg caffeine. Tolerance levels are different for everyone.


As with most high-protein foods, eggs and poultry promote the release of dopamine and norepinephrine, which are ‘feel-good’ chemicals that can heighten mood and bolster energy.


Perhaps there’s a reason why monkeys are so cheerful. Bananas are also shown to trigger the release of dopamine, as well as being full of B vitamins, which help to soothe the nervous system.


If you want a mood-boosting brekkie, choose slow-burning carbs like oats. They contain soluble fibre, which help to slow sugar absorption into your bloodstream. Oats are also shown to increase serotonin levels, which is a ‘happy chemical’ that puts a positive spin on your mood, social behaviour, digestion, sleep and brain function.


A bright yellow pigment found in the spice turmeric has been shown to have numerous super powers, from soothing inflammation to enhancing mood. Studies have also indicated it even has the ability to combat depression.


Dark berries, like blueberries and blackberries, are rich in antioxidants that encourage the production of dopamine. As you know by now, this chemical helps to wash away negative feelings leaving you on Cloud 9.


This fish is a great source of omega-3 fats. Studies in brain behaviour have concluded that these good fats play a key role in emotional wellbeing, as well as alleviating anxiety and depression.


For more information or mental health resources, visit Beyond Blue.

Kathleen is a trusted health expert in the field of nutrition and fitness. She is an exercise physiologist and nutritionist, author and founder of The Right Balance. Follow Kathleen on Instagram and Twitter, or get in touch: [email protected]

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