Three Simple Diet Changes to Improve Mood

Three Simple Diet Changes to Improve Mood

Author: Samantha Rogers is a marketing and communications specialist under contract with the National Center for Telehealth & Technology (T2).

Ever hear the phrase “you are what you eat”? While that’s a bit of a stretch, part of how you’re feeling can be attributed to the food you’re consuming. You don’t have to do a complete diet overhaul to start feeling better; read on for three simple diet changes you can make to improve your mood.

Eat something fatty (seriously). Most people on a “diet” actively avoid eating fats because we’ve been told they’re bad for you; that’s only partially true. Your body does need some fats to function properly, and some of the best are omega-3 fatty acids. You can find omega-3 fatty acids in foods such as salmon, avocados, and nuts. Research shows that omega-3 fatty acids may help your health in a variety of ways, including when it comes to arthritis, infant development, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s and, the most relevant to this topic, depression. These fats may also help maintain function in areas of the brain that are responsible for regulating mood and emotions. Experts recommend eating two to three servings of foods rich in omega-3every week.

Pass the turkey. It’s no coincidence that after a big Thanksgiving dinner you might feel sleepy and content. Turkey is a feel-good food that contains the amino acid tryptophan, which cannot be produced by the body, so must be ingested. Tryptophan helps the body produce serotonin, which is a crucial brain chemical when it comes to mood and sleep. Other foods with tryptophan include other poultry, beef, eggs, nuts, and soybeans.  

Drink up (water). One of the easiest diet changes you can make is to simply drink more water. Side effects of dehydration may include changes in mood and energy levels, such as increased fatigue and anxiety, and a negative effect on your ability to think clearly. According to experts, by the time you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated. The standard recommendation is to drink eight eight-ounce glasses of water a day, but your needs may differ depending on your body weight and physical activity. Not sure of how much to drink? Try this hydration calculator.

Keep in mind that your diet is only one of several factors that affect mood. Try making other small lifestyle changes, such as exercising more frequently or tracking your moods with an app, to see even more improvements in emotional health. Remember that diet and lifestyle changes are not a substitute for professional medical treatment. If you feel you are suffering from depression or another mood disorder, contact your doctor.

Happy eating!

Tags: Community Terms and Conditions

  • If you have feelings of suicide, hopelessness or depression - please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

  • reserves the right to edit and/or remove any user-generated content that violates these Terms and Conditions. The contents of the site, such as text, graphics, images, information, and other material contained on the site ("Content") are for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the site. If you choose to participate in the forums and/or blog ("Community") you agree to these Terms and Conditions.

  • Community posts and comments are reviewed by the Moderators for appropriateness before they are published to the Community. Posts and comments are reviewed between the hours of 0800 and 1700 hours Pacific Time, Monday through Friday and will go live immediately after review unless they are deemed inappropriate based on these Terms and Conditions at which time they will be deleted without notification.

    You will not be contacted at any point by any member of the staff, nor any related agency or organization. If you are in need of assistance or medical attention, please contact the DCoE Outreach Center or National Suicide Prevention Hotline listed in the top right corner of your screen.
  • You agree not to hold liable for anything stated within the Community. Messages and/or comments posted at this site are the sole opinion and responsibility of the poster. makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained within the Community.

  • and its Moderators reserve the right to remove, edit or delete without notice any and all content placed in the Community.

  • Moderator and/or action may be final. Actions may be reversed by or a Moderator after review of the matter.

  • Using the forum to solicit discussions contrary to the Terms and Conditions may be considered unacceptable.

  • It is your responsibility to be familiar with and remain updated to current Community Forum Terms and Conditions. All users of the Community must comply with these Terms and Conditions. Infractions of any Term or Condition may result in revocation of forum privileges.

  • General content that is inflammatory, vulgar, sexually explicit, rude or otherwise inappropriate will not be tolerated and will be removed.

  • Always be respectful of the Community, employees, and Moderators. Be civil, clean, and decent in all posts. Open discussions of varying points of view are encouraged but only if they remain constructive and not inflammatory. Personal attacks are neither allowed nor tolerated. Anyone using/ posting inappropriate content, language, personal attacks, engaging in hate speeches and rants, or being disruptive to the Community's positive environment may be barred from all further discussions and/ or the Community.

  • The Community is not a venue for personal or private vendettas or causes, including political debates.

  • Links to adult content, pages with links to adult content, or messages describing anything inconsistent with these Terms and Conditions will be removed.

  • Do not post copyrighted material or articles written by others without their permission.

  • Do not post altered-text as an attempt to defeat forum word-filters or otherwise circumvent the rules.

  • Nicknames, signatures, and avatars are not allowed on the site.

  • Keep forum thread discussions on topic, and within the subject of the forum. Please do not "hijack" or "bump" the thread to gain additional exposure to a post or yourself. Please do not
    cross-post within other forums and threads.

  • Content and Spam that is posted for the sole-purpose of unrelated promotion will be removed and may result in a permanent loss of forum privileges.

  • Anyone posting another member's personal or website details will be banned. Please do not post sensitive or confidential information to the Community about yourself or other members. Examples include account information, private communications with moderators, etc.