Can Food Put You in a Happier Mood?

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Is it possible that eating a banana can put you in a good mood? Or that you might feel giggly after eating a piece of chocolate? Believe it or not, the answer is yes, it is possible. In fact, there are many foods that have been linked to mood, including those that are useful in the treatment plans for those with depression. While foods might not be the cure-all for diseases, such as depression or other mental illnesses, there is enough evidence to show a link between diet and mood.

The Link Between Food and Mood

There are endless situations in which the link between food and mood can be seen. Anyone on a diet can attest to the feelings of irritability that being hungry can cause. Or what about the studies of how sugary foods can cause irritability in kids who might be susceptible to hyperactivity?  Even office productivity is often shown to increase when employees indulge in an afternoon snack.  Some may argue, that food has a placebo effect, but evidence supports the fact that food can play a role in how our brain reacts.

The foods that make up our diet have been shown to have an effect in our brain from both a chemical and physiologic standpoint. And it is these changes that can lead to differences in how we feel and how we act.

Depression, which plagues over 19 million Americans, is due to a chemical imbalance so perhaps a change in diet is in order. Autism has been linked to studies on brain function and brain chemistry, so it is no wonder that many treatment plans include changes in diet.

There are many other conditions for which altering the diet is among the recommendations.

Taking it one step further, how about the brain chemistry for someone with a food allergy? Is there a connection to mood as well? Numerous studies show that among the symptoms of itchy throats, hives, stomach aches, and headaches, are reports of the so-called “brain fog” and mood-related issues that accompany food allergies.

In the case of a food allergy, your body rejects the food and starts to fight it off, as if it is a foreign body. This reaction can then directly affect the body's brain chemistry and production of hormones and neurotransmitters.  In cases of food allergies and intolerances there is evidence of mood changes and mood swings. 

Celiac patients have long reported “brain fog” when they have mistakenly consumed gluten. Anger and irritability is often seen in kids who have a dairy allergy. Many countries have even banned the use of artificial coloring in foods, as it has had detrimental behavioral effects on children.

For those with food allergies, it is also important to not only explore the symptoms of the allergy, but to look at the overall diet intake. Once a food or food group is taken out of the diet, there is a chance that it is the deficiency that is now causing a disturbance to their mood.

The brain is our most complex organ doing the most work. It must be working at all times, even when you are asleep.

For this reason, what you eat has a direct impact on your brain function and behavior, namely mood. 

Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that is responsible for regulating things like appetite, mood, sleep and controlling pain. With almost all of your body's serotonin being produced in your gastrointestinal tract, it is no wonder that your diet plays a critical role in its production.

Adenosine is another neurotransmitter found in the brain that can act as a natural depressant. Caffeine, on the other hand, has been linked to blocking, adenosine production, a chemical that can prevent brain-boosting energy, making depression worse.Yet, another way in which food and mood have been linked. 

Foods to Boost Mood

So what does one eat to maintain a healthy diet and be in a good mood? There are many food options to boost general health. But it is just as important to keep in foods that can spruce up your mood. And for those with food allergies, it is even more important to take a closer look at what you can add to enhance your diet and keep you happier.

Perhaps starting with these simple food suggestions can set you on your way to a bigger smile.


This fruit is both nutritious and rich in tryptophan, which is the chemical that is converted into serotonin.   Most importantly the tryptophan converts to serotonin as soon as the banana is consumed, leaving you feelings happy and relaxed in no time at all.


This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically one called EPA. This omega-3 fatty acid has been shown to boost your brain and ease depression.  

Dark Chocolate

Eating this treat can certainly lift your mood.  This food stimulates the production of endorphins, which are the brain chemicals that bring on feelings of pleasure.

Blueberries and Blackberries

Both of these berries are rich in antioxidants, which serve to aid your brain in the production of a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine plays a critical role in memory and mood. 


A great high biological value protein helps to keep your blood sugars even, to help maintain an upbeat mood.

Greek Yogurt

This calcium rich food is sure to help elevate your mood.  When your body has the right amount of calcium levels, it sends a signal for your body to release neurotransmitters that make you feel good.  Without appropriate levels of calcium, often depression and anxiety can be exacerbated.

Next time you grab a snack, and want to put on a happy face, think about what foods may actually uplift your mood.

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