Today flat out stunk. You woke up, found a ticket on your car, spilled your coffee, got yelled at by your boss, and came home to find the kids with a mountain of homework and a weird smell coming from the playroom. Today. Was. Awful. By the time you cleaned up from dinner and took care of whatever that was in the playroom, you need some “you time.”
You mosey over to your fridge and see it the second you open the door. That is one huge piece of cheesecake. You hear angels singing from the back of the refrigerator. Some higher power bestowed this upon you. You deserve this. Nay, you’ve earned this.
“What we eat affects our mood, because different ingredients contain powerful mood-boosting chemicals that create a positive domino effect,” says Jenna Hollenstein, registered dietician and nutrition therapist for Just Salad and Eat to Love.
However, the happiness that cheesecake gives you is fleeting. It may put a temporary bandage on the problem, but afterwards you’ll feel the crash from the sugar, the uncomfortable fullness, and maybe even a smidge of guilt at unnecessarily overindulging.
“Comfort foods like ice cream and chips might boost your mood, but likely not for long, and you might end up feeling worse,” Hollenstein says. “While I strongly believe that all foods can fit into a healthful and balanced diet (including comfort foods), the interesting question is when we reach for them. If ice cream and chips gain appeal when we are eating for escape, they are not going to have the desired effect.”
Eating for comfort doesn’t have to be detrimental or excessive. In fact, if you eat the right foods, it can even make you happy. Hollenstein graciously gave us a few keys to this happiness with a list of foods that will actually boost your mood!
“Almonds have magnesium, which aids serotonin production, plus protein, fiber, and monounsaturated fats that satisfy and regulate blood sugar levels,” says Hollenstein. So that means no more “hangry” moments after a handful of these mood-boosting snacks.
Feeling a little blue? Add some green to your diet! “Broccoli has several mood-boosting elements,” says Hollenstein. “Chromium may improve symptoms of depression, water helps maintain hydration status, and fiber regulates blood sugar levels.”