Step Away from the Candy! Healthy Food Tips to Boost Your Mood


I have a friend who swears that dark cherry juice with cacao powder will enhance your mood, and though I can’t vouch for the L-tryptohan (a serotonin producer) he claims this combo contains, I can tell you it’s a blend that just feels good (and tastes divine!).

There are, however, proven foods to give our brains a “feel good” boost. Without getting too technical, serotonin is a neurotransmitter which produces feelings of satisfaction and tranquility. Dopamine is another one, creating focus and pleasure. I did some research on how to naturally boost these neurotransmitters and here’s what I found:

-Complete protein produces dopamine. Keep in mind, eating too much protein in a meal will cancel out dopamine’s alertness and make you sleepy.
- Foods containing complete protein are meat, poultry, eggs and certain vegetarian combinations such as rice and beans, corn and cheese, beans with nuts and seeds, or quinoa. Bragg Liquid Aminos is a great tasting supplement.
-Carbs (sugars and starches) produce serotonin. Think breads, grains and veggies. But you have to eat your carbs without protein or fat, or serotonin production will be inhibited. That’s why some foods high in L-tryptophan (protein-rich cottage cheese, turkey, and eggs) won’t boost your serotonin.
- Simple sugar gives the quickest serotonin rush (this explains why we crave candy), but also the hardest crash. Complex carbohydrates (brown rice, potatoes, pasta) give a slower, more extended boost.
-For added serotonin, try pasta with low-fat sauce, rice with steamed vegetables, potatoes (no butter!), veggie sushi or lentils with steamed broccoli. And of course, cacao.
-Overindulging in alcohol, caffeine or stress depletes neurotransmitters, putting you in a worse mood and making it harder to use food as a medicine.

Keep in mind, there’s no quick fix. You can’t just eat a slice of bread, sit back and expect to be happy; brain chemistry is more complex than that. The best solution is to eat a well-balanced diet of organic, whole foods. Perhaps you were expecting a magic pill?

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