A lot of people try to eat healthy, but what many might not realize is that food affects our mood. Lots of nutritious foods, like fruits and veggies, have vitamins and minerals that give a total boost to your mood. Different foods have specific minerals or hormones, and some of them make you feel relaxed, happy, sleepy, and even energized. Incorporating these foods into your diet can be a great way to improve and stabilize your mood every day.

Why do Foods Affect the Way I Feel?

All foods have different types of nutrients that impact your health and wellbeing. For example, spinach has a high magnesium content that helps reduce stress, but the main reason food to affects mood is that a lot of the nutrients in food release serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that is sometimes called the “happy chemical” because it helps your body relax and makes you feel happy and healthy. Serotonin is linked to our digestive system because amino acids that trigger serotonin production enter the body through our diet.

How can Food Help Me Feel Energized and Happy?

Lots of food can help you feel refreshed and relaxed. Most of them have minerals that increase our serotonin. Here are a few examples:

  • Spinach - Spinach is a great source of magnesium. It helps reduce anxiety and stress. Spinach also has folates and zinc, which help fight depression.
  • Bananas - Bananas have a lot of potassium and Vitamin B. This can help you feel energized. Bananas are also a good source of iron, Vitamin C, Magnesium, and folate.  
  • Avocados - Avocados are usually known for their nutritious fats, but they also lead to more balanced hormone levels. When we have stressed our hormone levels grow unbalanced. The hormone levels in avocados balance them out leaving us happy and relaxed.
  • Salmon - Salmon is a great source of omega-3 and Vitamin B12 which can help with battling against depression and leads to good mental health.
  • Turkey - Turkey is a good source of tryptophan which leads to a great amount of serotonin.  The excess amount is one reason why we all feel so sleepy after Thanksgiving.
  • Almonds - Almonds are a good source of protein as are a lot of other nuts. Almonds have a lot of magnesium for energy, and they are also a good source of Vitamin E, which can help improve memory.

How can I Fit These Foods into Everyday Meals? 

Even though some of us make a point of not being healthy (kids), we can find ways to include these foods in our everyday lives. Making sandwiches is a great way to include a lot of different ingredients. For example, I could include avocado, spinach, and turkey on one sandwich. We could also include these foods on salads. A Simple spinach salad holds a lot of nutritious value. Including berries, nuts, or other veggies in your salad will not only make the salad yummier it will help you feel happier and more refreshed. Blending fruits and veggies into a smoothie is another way to include these foods in your diet. Making a trail mix with lots of nuts and chocolate would be a tasty mood boosting snack.

Why Does Mood Matter?

Say you went in for a job interview. If you were stressed and unhappy when you were interviewed, you may not receive a job offer because the employer would want a happier person on the job. Having a good mood can also help you in everyday situations. What if someone had a bad morning? They slept in, spilled their cereal, and got yelled at. Having a good mood and being positive could make someone's day better and even bring their mood up.

How Can You Apply This Knowledge to Feel Better? 

Paying attention to what you put in your body can help you not only to feel healthier, but it also improves your mood. A lot of the foods recommended above are delicious and have incredible nutritional value, so you can eat healthy while improving your mood. If you ever need help with big feelings or moods that don’t seem to be improved by your food choices, you may want to consider talking to a counselor from Arkansas Families First. Counselors can help you better understand your moods and develop skills (like healthier eating) to improve the way you feel.

By Analise Benton (7th grade)