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!

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