We often use food as a way to make ourselves feel better if we’re stressed, bored or lonely, but these foods are usually unhealthy ‘comfort’ foods, full of trans fat, salt, and sugar, which really don’t help our waistlines and do nothing to lift our negative moods either.
It’s important to find healthier ways to help boost your mood naturally, such as by eating healthy foods full of the nutrients that we typically lack when we’re feeling low.
Here we have some healthy foods to help boost your mood while also helping you to continue losing weight.
In addition to vitamins A, B6, and C, fiber, potassium, phosphorous, and iron, bananas contain the important amino acid tryptophan.
The mood-boosting carbohydrates in bananas help the absorption of tryptophan in the brain, and vitamin B6 helps convert the tryptophan into the mood-lifting hormone serotonin, which helps to boost your mood and also regulates sleep.
Because of its ability to raise serotonin levels, tryptophan has been used in the treatment of a variety of conditions, such as insomnia, depression, and anxiety, and the potassium in bananas is great if you’re feeling tired or stressed.
Bananas are great for breakfast as they provide lots of slow-releasing energy, meaning they will keep you feeling fuller for longer; the best ones to choose are slightly green ones, as they will boost your metabolism with their 12.5 grams of resistant starch – more than twice the amount found in a ripe banana.
2. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, a mineral that is often lacking in our diets.
Studies have shown that people with low selenium levels have increased levels of depression, irritability, anxiety, and tiredness.
Selenium is also important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which controls metabolism and the process of turning food into energy.
As well as helping to boost your mood, Brazil nuts are a great source of filling fiber, and muscle-building protein, plus they contain healthy fats and other vitamins and minerals.
Try eating three or four Brazil nuts alongside a handful of almonds and a piece of fruit as a mid-morning snack, or sprinkle some chopped Brazil nuts on a salad or stir-fry.
3. Oily Fish
As well as being good for your heart and helping your body to metabolize body fat better, omega-3 fatty acids are important for your mental health and well-being.
Studies have shown that people who are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids may be more susceptible to depression and low mood.
So, oily fish, which is high in omega 3s, and has the best protein-to-calorie ratio, is a great option to boost your mood and to help you lose weight.
The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon make up a large percentage of our brain tissue, so eating a diet high in omega-3 will also keep your brain healthy and improve mood by keeping brain cells flexible, so the brain’s messengers – neurotransmitters – can work more effectively.
Certain deficiencies in B vitamins have been linked to depression – serotonin production can actually be hindered by low B vitamin levels.
Eating leafy green vegetables – such as spinach or broccoli, for example – will help keep your B-vitamin levels up, as well as help to fill you up with fewer calories.
Spinach is great raw in a salad, or add it to smoothies, stir-fries, omelets, and soups.
Lentils are a fantastic kitchen staple; with their combination of fiber and complex carbs, they are a great low-calorie way to fill you up, plus they’re high in protein.
Also, as a complex carbohydrate, like bananas, they have the added benefit of helping to increase the brain’s production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.
This results in a calmer, happier state of mind with less anxiety as evening out your blood sugar level is important to maintain a stable mood, as well as stable hunger levels.
Lentils can also boost your iron levels which will give you energy and therefore put you in a better mood, and iron is also crucial for maintaining a good metabolism.
A great way to include lentils in your diet is to use them in homemade soups and stews – to make them easier to digest, soak them for a few hours before cooking.
Vitamin D deficiency is linked to many health problems, such as depression, osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancer.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight (the action of sunlight on the skin allows our bodies to manufacture vitamin D), but if you aren’t getting enough sun, try to include foods that include vitamin D in your diet, such as yogurt.
The calcium found in yogurt can also help reduce your levels of stress and anxiety, plus it acts as a fat burner, so make sure to include good sources of calcium in your diet.
7. Chicken and Turkey
Eat chicken and turkey breast to increase your intake of the amino acid tryptophan.
As we explained above, the body uses tryptophan to make serotonin – one of the most important neurotransmitters affecting mood, and also to make the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.
They also contain another amino acid, tyrosine, which can help reduce symptoms of depression as well as help us to avoid feeling the blues in the first place.
Both types of meat are also excellent sources of protein, keeping you full for longer and helping to stave off hunger pangs and cravings.
8. Dark chocolate
The good news is that chocolate is one of the ‘bad’ foods you should be eating, as chocolate isn’t just a delicious treat; it can give your mood a lift as well.
A small square of dark chocolate can cause the brain to release endorphins and boost serotonin levels, plus studies have shown that those who eat a little chocolate each day produce fewer stress hormones, and their anxiety levels decrease.
Dark chocolate also slows down digestion, so you feel full for longer and eat less at your next meal.
Dark chocolate is full of MUFAs, which boost your metabolism to burn more fat and calories; plus, indulging in a little chocolate will stop feelings of deprivation while curbing sweet cravings.
Making sure to eat foods that boost your mood is especially important as we enter into the shorter fall days.
However, while these delicious foods will help to top up your feel-good hormones and many of the nutrients we’re missing in our modern diets, it’s often difficult to eat a wide enough variety of food while also trying to lose weight.
For your best chance of success, Phen Caps – which give you energy, reduce cravings, and curb your appetite – will give you everything you need for a happy, healthy weight loss journey!