Holiday Foods that Lift Your Mood

December 07, 2017

Find out what foods will contribute to a good mood during this sometimes-stressful time of year...

Certain foods can stimulate the feel good parts of your brain. And other foods have the opposite effect. So during this sometimes-stressful time of the year, what foods will contribute to a good mood? Find out here.

Chocolate! It's not your imagination, chocolate is a known joy stimulant. According to a study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, those who drank a polyphenol-rich chocolate drink once daily (the equivalent of 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate) reported feeling calmer and more content than those who didn’t. And it makes sense as cocoa is known to boost serotonin, the neurotransmitter that is associated with a good mood. In fact most anti-depressants work on boosting serotonin. 

Protein! Making sure your meals and snacks include a good source of protein is a sure way to keep your mood high and prevent blood sugar lows. There are lots of great protein packed options that work for holiday parties and for those days off from work where you may make an extra special breakfast. Make omelets with mushrooms! Use avocoadoes also for breakfast avocado toast, guacamole dip for gatherings, or on a lunchtime sandwich or in a salad. For more snacking ideas, apple with almond butter, or a cheese stick or some carrots and hummus are great choices. And don't forget that turkey is a great source of protein as well and a Christmas dinner favorite. 

Bananas are not only a sweet addition to a snack or smoothie but also a great source of mood boosting dopamine precursors! Dopamine helps us feel satisfied, happy and connected. Eat bananas in the morning breakfast (bonus points when paired with oatmeal, another mood-boosting food), use them in smoothies, and make banana nut bread (a popular food during the holidays) with walnuts added for even more uplifiting nutrients.

And speaking of nuts, go for almonds! Instead of snacking at parties on the heavy, processed foods, go for this nut that is packed with healthy fats, Vitamin E and calcium. You can add sliced almonds to fish and chicken dishes and use in salads or have some fun and make dark-chocolate almonds for a dessert! 

Cinnamon is a popular spice this time of year, and this spice is one of the oldest know ones used for all kinds of ailment across cultures from colds to digestion to diabetes. And it has been shown to improve energy, vitality and alertness. So go for some cinnamon tea, cinnamon spiced sweet potatoes, cinnamon cookies, cinnamon spiced pork loin (also a great source of protein) many different ways to use this spice!

As of now the food mood connection isn’t a sure science; the evidence isn’t bulletproof and correlation does not prove causation. It is very difficult to study nutrition patterns and behaviors, health outcomes, etc as there are many variables. The best thing you can do for your self and your family is to listen to your body, and see how you feel after eating certain foods. After all we are all individual and will have different triggers.

If your want to keep your mood high, stay away from processed foods, sugar and any known food allergies or sensitivities!