Feel Good Foods

Content by: Sarah Bigbee, RD

Recent research has found there are factors we can control which affect our mood and feelings – from the inside-out. One of those factors is the food that we eat. Learn more about food and mood...

Feel Good Foods


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Mood is defined as a temporary state of mind or feeling. There are many factors that affect our mood. Many of the factors that affect our mood come from outside of ourselves – they are external. An example of this is someone giving a compliment, it can boost your mood and make you feel good. Another example is a rainy day making you feel sad or tired.

Recent research has found there are certain factors we can control. Some affect our mood from the inside -- called internal factors. One of the factors that we can control is the food that we eat. These feel good foods have high amounts of the protein, which are necessary building blocks needed to produce feel good chemicals like serotonin and dopamine.

Since these are proteins, it is important to include complex carbohydrates. Consider whole grains, with proteins in order for your body to use proteins most effectively. By eating rich sources of these building block proteins with whole grains, we can produce greater amounts of feel good chemicals.

We can actually help keep ourselves to "feel good", both physically and mentally! Making sure to eat a healthy, balanced diet is important to maintaining a healthy mind and body. Strive to get a variety of the foods below in your diet. Don't forget a whole grain food item, to help your body absorb and use the protein building blocks.

Foods that can lead to higher serotonin levels:
● Almonds, walnuts, and other nuts
● Cheeses (does not including “cheese products”)
● Chicken, turkey, and other poultry
● Eggs
● Leafy greens
● Mushrooms
● Pumpkin, chia, and other seeds
● Salmon
● Spinach
● Tofu, soy milk, and other soy products

Foods that can lead to higher dopamine levels:
● Almonds, peanuts and other nuts
● Apples
● Avocados
● Bananas
● Beans
● Beets
● Cheeses (real cheese not including cheese products)
● Chicken, turkey, and other poultry
● Coffee
● Green leafy vegetables
● Oatmeal
● Probiotic-rich foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and yogurt
● Sesame and pumpkin seeds
● Tofu and other soy products
● Watermelon