Foods to Boost Your Mood

By Madeleine Schroedel

How Eating Right Can Make You Happier

According to US News, “dietary changes can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and emotions”.  This means that if you’re not eating right, it can have serious impacts on your body, both mentally and physically. How often, how much, and what you are eating can all influence your body, and how you feel throughout the day.  They can even affect your school performance.

Many of the effects food has on your system has to do with the chemicals and nutrients it contains.  A few of the most important nutrients to keep in mind are omega-3, iron, protein (especially serotonin), and galanin.  Omega-3 can boost your energy level, and lower tendencies of depression, and are found in foods such as salmon and walnuts.  Iron, which is present in red meat, beans, and dried fruit, can help you pay attention in class, and make you feel less tired.  Similarly, protein can decrease fatigue. Having eggs, vegetables, and dairy products will make you feel better and strengthen your memory.  Serotonin, a type of protein, is important for your mood and relaxation.  Serotonin is found in carbohydrates (but don’t eat too many!) and turkey.  Studies show that levels of serotonin naturally decrease during the winter, so keep that in mind in the months to come.  Lastly, galanin is released from your brain when you eat too much fat. It causes fatigue and lethargy, heavily impacting your mood.

Your blood sugar levels are also important when it comes to getting you through the day.  If you eat sugary foods, they may make you feel better and energized for a little, but after your blood sugar will drop and you will feel a lack energy.

So let’s take it meal by meal, starting with breakfast.  Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, suggests eating some protein, fresh fruit, or unprocessed foods such as slow-cooked oats for breakfast, which will leave you less hungry.  For breakfast reach for:

        – Fruit

        – Juice

        – Multigrain toast

        – Cereal and milk

        – Yogurt

Remember that foods that are high in sugar (i.e. pop tarts or waffles with syrup) will only make you feel good for about twenty minutes. You then will become tired and hungry.

Next comes lunch, during which you want to choose carefully.  Fatty foods will leave you groggy for your afternoon classes, so instead reach for:

        – Salad (go for spinach!) with light dressing

        – Fruit

        – Sandwiches on multigrain or whole-grain bread (instead of white)

        – Soup

        – Peanut butter and jelly

Eating a healthy, low-fat lunch will leave you energized and ready for the afternoon, especially if you have sports practices or activities after school.

Lastly, it’s important to think about what you’re eating for dinner before you sleep, as it will impact the way you feel the following day. Reach for:

        – Grilled chicken

        – Fish

        – Vegetables

        – Rice

Try to eat at least two hours before bed. Getting enough sleep is crucial to your mood the next day, how well you do in school, and, believe it or not, the food choices you make. So if you eat right before you sleep, your body will still work to digest instead of rest.

Keep all these tips in mind when choosing your meals, and remember to eat something about every four hours, whether it be a snack or light meal. We all have those days that get us down, so the next time that day comes around for you, fill up on the foods you know will lift your spirits. Cupcakes and Nutella may be tempting, but they’ll leave you feeling worse than before. Go for a warm cup of green tea to soothe your stress instead. Overall, make sure you’re getting enough nutrients and good foods in your system that will positively impact your mood. Boosting your happiness is easy with the right choices, so don’t wait and start with breakfast!