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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Food and Mood

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A woman holds her templesAre you tired? Sad? Tense? Mad? Whether its anxiety about an upcoming deadline, mood swings from a rollercoaster of a day, or just plain hormonal changes, you can actually help your mood by eating certain foods. Instead of reaching for the family size bag of potato chips, try switching to some of these nutritional choices!

  • Fish, Flax, and Walnuts: Alabacore, tuna, salmon, herring or any other fatty fish contain omega 3’s which actually help protect brain tissue and promote healthy brain cell production. Omega 3’s also trigger production of serotonin, your feel good, mood enhancing neurotransmitter. If you don’t like fish, you can add flax or walnuts to your diet.
  • Magnesium: This also helps our body’s regulate serotonin activity which is also a natural appetite suppressant. Since PMS can sometimes lower levels of magnesium, it can often cause stress eating. And what do we reach for when we are stress eating? Junk food! Try eating high magnesium foods such as spinach, black beans, pumpkin seeds, bananas, brown rice, or tofu.
  • Whole Grains: Complex carbohydrates like whole grain rice, pasta, and bread are ideal for raising serotonin levels and providing the brain glucose, the primary energy source for optimal brain functioning. Whole grains are also loaded with B vitamins which may help decrease irritability and depression.
  • Caffeine: We all know caffeine can affect our mood especially when you try to cut it out cold turkey. Try using decaffeinated coffee or soda to minimize mood effects.
  • High choline foods:  Our brain needs choline (vitamin B4) to produce acetylcholine which boosts memory, muscle control, and behavior. Foods that are high in choline include, egg yolks, wheat germ, peanuts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, fish, dairy and other meat products.
  • Folate: Along with many other health benefits, folate or folic acid will help boost your cognitive function and reduce the risk of different brain conditions like Alzheimers. Foods high in folate include breads, cereals, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale as well as beans, nuts, peas, avocados, bananas, and oranges.  

Vary your food intake to help your brain function, including mood, at optimal levels. The key to keeping your brain young and sharp is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins. Balance is the key!

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Tags: Nutrition , Healthy Eating

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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