Good Food, Good Mood

Understand how foods affect your moods and you’ll improve your physical and emotional health.

The problem is moods affect the way we look at the world around us. If we are constantly feeling blue, low or angry, our view of the world will continually appear negative. Most of the time, our moods swing back to center from the highs and lows, and we recover from our disappointments, or the elation of our victories. Occasionally, however, our moods go haywire, and they stick at either end of the spectrum. We may suffer from clinical depression and generally be considered out of balance. Much of this has to do with the foods we eat on a daily basis.

Nutrition scientists discovered long ago our moods are linked to the production or use of certain brain chemicals, and they have identified many of the natural chemicals in foods that change the way we feel. Food influences neurotransmitters by attaching to brain cells and changing the way they behave. This opens pathways to those cells so that other mood-altering chemicals can come through the gates and attach themselves to brain cells.

Chill Out – Try whole grain cereals, legumes, nuts, poultry, fish, meat eggs, milk and other dairy products, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables.

What They Do – They contain antioxidants such as Vitamin A, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, selenium, zinc, copper and manganese, which are also anti-stress nutrients.

Make Cooler - Try whole grain – from cereals to pasta and white rice, dried beans, nuts, fish, eggs, milk, fresh fruits and vegetables.

What They Do - They contain water-soluble vitamins like B-complex vitamins especially thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pyridoxine and cobalamin, which aid in the proper functioning of the brain and the nervous system, by improving the blood circulation to the brain and converting the food we eat into energy that the brain can use. B-vitamins enhance the functioning of the brain neurotransmitters and improve the ability to think, reason, learn and imagine.

Get Energized! – Try green vegetables, peas, pumpkin, broccoli and others, which are rich in minerals.

What They Do – They contain minerals such as iron, manganese and potassium, which counter anemia. Anemia (common among young women) causes weariness, affecting physical as well as the mental health.

Push PMS Away – Try dairy products like milk, curd, buttermilk, yogurt, cottage cheese, cheese, broccoli, and dried fruits especially figs.

What They Do – They are rich in calcium, which not only helps bone development, but can also prevent PMS – those dark moods during premenstrual days as well as menstrual cravings. Calcium helps the nervous system especially in the impulse transmission. It thus helps maintain a balanced and calm mind.

Get Happy - Try green vegetables such as spinach and meat, seafood and bananas.

What They Do - They contain magnesium which aids in fighting gloominess, misery and confused states of mind.

Be Calm - Try beetroot, cabbage, celery, fruits and fresh vegetables.

What They Do - Fiber in these foods ensures a good bowel movement. Irregular bowel movements cause irritability and quick temper.

Dos and Don’ts

Do develop the habit of eating small frequent meals to avoid weakness caused by the stress of daily routines.

Do not avoid fats totally. Fats, especially vegetable oils, provide essential fatty acids which are required for a number of physiological functions including the production of hormones. Hormones influence the body form, as also the behavior. Avoiding fat, especially vegetable oils, causes hormonal imbalances that can trigger aggressive behavior.

Do not eat under stressful conditions. Arguments and bad moods while eating lead to digestive disorders.

Remember that a well balance diet should be complemented with physical activity. Regular exercise helps fight depression, combats stress, improves the overall mood and helps the body to produce chemicals needed for certain physiological functions.

Roxanne Moore MS, RD

Roxanne Moore is a Registered Dietitian and past spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (ADA). Roxanne completed her undergraduate work in Dietetics at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland and her Masters in Health Science and Business at Towson University in Towson, Maryland. Roxanne has over 15 years experience developing nutrition education programs and providing nutrition education for individuals, groups and the community —at-large. Roxanne is certified as a Child and Adolescent Obesity Counselor and is a member of ADA Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists dietetic practice group.

Roxanne’s passion for educating has awarded her with opportunities to work with USDA Child Nutrition Programs, to provide individual and group counseling to a diverse population, and to serve as the nutrition expert for the media. As an ADA Spokesperson, Roxanne has been interviewed by both print media and television. She has appeared on local news stations, cable television, CNN and ESPN. She has also been quoted in magazines such as Readers Digest, Shape, and Redbook. In a clinical capacity, Roxanne has provided medical nutrition therapy to individuals of all ages coping with various medical needs, including diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, and eating disorders., She has taught Sports Nutrition at the college level and has served as a Sports Nutritionist for individual athletes and teams, including Chessie Racing, a sailing team from Baltimore that sailed in the WhitBread (Volvo) Around the World race. Within the community, Roxanne is a frequent guest speaker and she has worked with local restaurants to help develop heart-healthy dining programs for consumers.

© Copyright 2011  Allison Stuart Kaplan LLC

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  1. Wonderful—I spend so much time researching antioxidants and other benefits of certain foods—it’s difficult for me because I have many food allergies: nuts, wheat, soy, and wondering if I am now developing an intolerance to gluten; I also need to be careful with eggs, icecream (believe it or not) and chocolate.

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