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Foods that Boost Your Mood

I was sitting at a coffee shop with a girlfriend recently after a particularly taxing workout class, and she said: “You know, I think you should write about foods that people should eat when they’re going through a breakup. Because all I want to do is drink this Chai latte all day but I know that’s probably not the best idea.”

It dawned on me that a lot of people I knew were going through a little heartbreak, and if we’re not, we’ve all had one of those weeks where by Friday night all we want is slippers on our feet, a spoon in one hand, and a tub of ice cream in the other. Sadly though, once you’ve worked your way to the bottom of the Blue Bell, you don’t usually feel much better. So we looked into what foods we really should be reaching for when we’re in a blue mood.

Next time you have a rough day or week try out some of these foods to get you back on your feet and feeling sunny.


When life hands you lemons…make a lil’ lemon balm tea. Lemon balm has been used in many ancient cultures to aid the spirit. An Eleventh century Arab physician Avicenna noted that “balm makes the heart merry and joyful, and strengthens the vital spirits.” Also, in the Middle Ages, lemon balm was used to relieve stress and anxiety, promote sleep, help indigestion, and lift the spirits. A big cup of Lemon Balm Tea will at the very least soothe your nerves.

chamomile tea latte copy 2

I remember taking sips of my mom’s chamomile tea, while we cuddled on the couch before bedtime. Come to find out, Chamomile is one of the oldest, most widely used medicinal plants in the world. Chamomile has been frequently used as a mild sedative to calm nerves and reduce anxiety. These effects may be due to the flavonoid, that binds to receptors in the brain, calming our nerves and settling our minds. This Chamomile Tea Latte is just as comforting as a hug from mom.

passionflower tea

Stop and smell the…passionflower? In the ancient Indian medical practices, Ayurveda, the passionflower is used to treat many conditions in the nervous system. Also, the Aztecs used the passionflower as a pain reliever and to treat anxiety, insomnia and hysteria. That’s some serious flower power. This Passion Flower Tea, is a great bedtime beverage that will help you sleep your stresses away.


Yet another power flower is Lavender. Lavender has been used in alternative herbal remedies for centuries to cure stress and to relax the body. This blossom is known as a calming and relaxing herb and has frequently been used for insomnia, anxiety, depression, and natural stress relief. It is actually called an “emotional anti-inflammatory.” Sip on this Lavender Iced Tea to relax away your troubles.


If you’re looking for something a little heartier than teas, pass up the traditional comfort foods of mashed potatoes and pasta, and see how much better you’ll feel after a plate of salmon or tuna. If you want to eat for mood, it’s crucial that you select the fats that are the best for your brain. When studies compare the mood disorders in different countries, populations that eat the most fish have the lowest rates of depression, bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, and seasonal affective disorder. Stick with simple recipes, like this Salmon and Cucumber, because the fats and sugars in fried or glazed fish recipes could cancel out the helpful effects.

banana chips

In addition to being a natural energy source, bananas help us overcome or prevent various illnesses including depression, blood pressure, nervousness, stress, and strokes. Bananas’ power lies in tryptophan, a type of protein that the body converts into serotonin, known to make you relax, improve your mood, and generally make you feel happier. When we are stressed, our metabolic rate rises, thereby reducing our potassium levels. Rebalance potassium levels with this easy Banana Chip recipe.

stuffed chilis

What better way to perk up than with some spice! Chili peppers produce capsaicin, a substance that no other plant is capable of producing. When we eat spicy foods, we release endorphins. Endorphins are anti-stress hormones that relieve pain naturally. Just like runners report a post-workout high, chili-eaters talk about a soothing, euphoric response to eating extremely spicy food. These Stuffed Jalapenos will definitely give your taste buds and mood a good jump start!


I never quite find the happiness I’m digging for in that pint of Blue Bell…actually, I usually just feel jittery then crash. Hard. This is common with a lot of traditional “comfort” foods, they aren’t so comforting in the end. To help y’all steer clear of these sneaky offenders too, we made a short list of foods that could bring down your mood, and some alternatives to eat instead:


Sugary sweets you may like to indulge in on a bad day, like cupcakes or brownies, are one of the biggest bad-mood culprits. The simple sugars that are in junk foods like candy and soda can cause your blood sugar to go way up then way way down. These drops can leave you tired and cranky. But dark chocolate can actually make you feel better. Chocolate has been praised for years for its mood-boosting qualities. It actually helps our brain produce more serotonin, which makes us feel happier. Feel free to indulge, but pass on the bakery’s pastries, and make this Fruity Chocolate Bark.

chai latte

Another primary go-to when we need a pick-me-up is coffee. In moderation, coffee is actually said to be good for you, especially your metabolism and heart. It’s when you go overboard that it can be a good-mood killer. Too much coffee can leave you feeling anxious and unfocused. It could also lead to a big crash, as the caffeine wares off, giving you mood swings and feeling fatigued. The super sugary coffee drinks sure taste good, but pack a double whammy, taking your mood on a wild ride with all the sugar and caffeine. If you’re thirsty for a morning indulgence, try a lower caffeinated, Chai Tea Latte, but ask them to go light on the sugar.


French fries and potato chips, {{tear}}, are a definite no-go when you’re looking for food that will get you out of a slump. They both contain Omega-6 fatty acids, the villain to the Omega-3 superhero. They actually block the Omega-3s from the receptors in our brains, leaving us even more sluggish. If you’re looking for a crunchy snack grab some Omega-3-rich almonds. These Herb Roasted Almonds are a good option.

So ladies and gents…

Next time you experience heartbreak, stress, or the hustle and bustle of life has you wound up, put on your slippers but pass up the spoon and ice cream for a big mug, hot tea and some of these healthy snacks. It’s when we take care of ourselves that we feel truly full.

1 Comment

  • Mary Jenkins
    Posted February 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Come on…Not even a little ice cream? Just kidding! These look so yummy. If it weren’t snowing so hard outside, I’d go buy some jalapenos and whip up some of those stuffed peppers immediately!

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