When it comes to choosing foods that boost happiness, an important connection to make is that everything we eat or drink affects our brain or body function in some way. Many foods not only are healthy but also are scientifically shown to support our physiological happiness-boosting systems.
Nutrients such as folate, magnesium, vitamin D, calcium, chromium, and omega-3 fatty acids are all known to elevate mood. Some foods are known to boost serotonin, a natural chemical in your body that balances mood, sleep, memory, and a number of other good things. Healthful foods that are naturally high in mood-lifting nutrients are perfect staples to place at the core of your diet.
Once you zero in on your favorite happiness-boosting foods, it will be easy to reach for them more often. A major bonus is that many of these foods happen to be great tasting, too. I love feeling like I’m indulging a little while eating something super healthy at the same time. A win-win!
Here are 10 foods that can boost happiness you can add to your regular menu:
- Almonds (look for dark chocolate–covered almonds for a double happiness lift)
- Avocado (healthy fats in avocado have been shown to reduce stress and boost mood)
- Baked potatoes (the healthy carbs in a baked potato can boost serotonin levels, boosting happiness)
- Dark chocolate (great antioxidants, and can boost mood-lifting endorphins)
- Organic Greek yogurt (look for plain or low in sugar; try with fresh berries for an amazing quick breakfast – excellent for gut health and boosting positive brain chemicals)
- Organic leafy greens (besides obvious health benefits, greens contain folate, which can help with production of mood regulating hormones like dopamine)
- Mushrooms (shiitake, morel, or chanterelle – studies have shown they may help ease depression)
- Popcorn (healthy carbs support serotonin production and help to level out mood)
- Roasted pumpkin seeds (they’re high in triptophan, which may help reduce anxiety and boost mood)
- Wild-caught salmon (healthy omega-3’s have been shown to help reduce anxiety and improve mood)
Now that you have a list of happiness-boosting foods to consider, to consider giving the boot:
Refined sugar; anything artificial (including coloring and sweeteners); frequent heavy doses of empty carbs (like cereal, pasta, and bread — moderation is okay); all sodas (I love sparkling water flavored with splashes of organic juice instead); highly processed foods such as lunch meats and many packaged snacks; and . . .perhaps most importantly – anything that generally makes you feel like crap after you eat it. Because when something isn’t great for us, our body is pretty good about letting us know, right? The key is to follow what it says.
We all have those certain foods or drinks we love the taste of but make us feel awful every time we eat them or have too much, right? It’s just not worth the loss of energy.
Try updating your grocery list to include even more foods that truly support you in quality ways. And, be sure to master the art of reading food labels to avoid being tricked by deceptive packaging – it’s shocking what’s in some so-called “healthy” foods.
I love small changes that have big impact! A few small changes in this area can help you level-up your wellness and feel better more of the time. Who’s in?
P.S. – This list is adapted from my book, Operation Happiness You can find it (ebook & audio) right here. xo