Food and Mood

The brain demands a constant supply of energy – approximately 20% of our daily calorie needs. What we eat directly affects the structure and function of our brain and moods.

There are some specific foods to keep an eye on to boost your mood:

  • Fruits and vegetables – fruits and vegetables have been linked to higher levels of happiness
  • Omega 3 fatty acids – low intake has been correlated to depression and impulsivity. Focus on fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.), nuts and seeds (walnuts, chia and flax seeds) to ensure you are meeting your body’s needs.
  • Chocolate – may have properties that improve mood and even reduce tension. Try to choose dark chocolate (around 80% cacao) and consume in moderation.

Anxiety and Depression:

  • Depression can increase or decrease appetite.
  • Negative mood states have been shown to stimulate a preference for foods high in sugar, fat, and/or salt.
  • Fatigue and apathy are associated with depression which may prevent motivation to engage in healthful dietary habits, cook, or grocery shop.
  • A diet high in red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, full-fat dairy, butter, and potatoes, and low in fruits and vegetables was associated with an increased risk of depression.
  • Eating disorders commonly co-occur with anxiety disorders.
  • Avoiding essential foods (example, being on a very low carbohydrate diet), may promote obsessive thoughts related to restricted food.

Try to focus on:

  • A whole-food diet consisting of higher intakes of vegetables, fruits, seafood, whole grains, lean meats, nuts, and legumes, with avoidance of processed foods.
  • A balance of nutrients is key! Keep in mind, there is much more that goes in to mental health that you can’t control (example: genetics). Focus on the things that you can control, like well-balanced diet!

Information from: Today's Dietitian and The American Heart Association.

By: Sarah Waterman, RDN, LD