Boost your mood with food

20 April 2017 by
First published: 1 March 2016

Think about the amount of time you spend eating. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, supper, pick-me-ups, cravings, comfort treats, on-a-whim-60p chocolate bars, banquets, romantic meals, nibbles, hungover bacon sandwiches. In 2014, The Mirror reported in the UK, 237 hours were spent consuming food each year. That’s actually surprisingly little, only 39 minutes a day. Insanely hectic lives leave little room for nourishing our bodies. The more we feel stressed, the less likely we are to take a break and indulge our hunger with essential sustenance. But what if the food you eat (or lack of) could be affecting your mood? It’s common knowledge that the only thing a rough breakup needs is ice-cream and cookie dough, preferably mushed together. But those are extraordinary circumstances. Skipping meals often might be counterproductively making us feel more anxious, more depressed, more stressed, and more miserable. The food we eat is essential to our outlook on life. So what are the best foods to get through Monday morning meetings and improve our mood?


In daily life, research shows that foods high in tryptophan, when combined with other amino acids, can help produce serotonin. That’s the happy hormone. Not enough of that bad-boy, and you’re in for a bad day. Although carbs often get a bad rep, they’re great at helping the brain to absorb tryptophan. Pasta is my carb of choice (Spag Bol is my kryptonite), but any will do. Cheese is high in tryptophan. That means Mac ‘n’ Cheese is your best friend when you’re feeling low. Other foods that are high in tryptophan include eggs and salmon. Just pair them with some carbs and you can thank me later.


Research shows that Omega-3 can help to alleviate depression without the tricky side-effects that often comes with medication. In one of many corroborating studies on this topic, 22,000 people were found to be less likely to have symptoms of depression the more Omega-3 they took. As fish is high in Omega-3, it’s time for a cheeky fishcake.


In fact, any fruit that is high in Vitamin C – blueberries, strawberries, lemons – will be beneficial to you. In a study involving a stomach-churning combination of public speaking and maths, two things which I think everyone can agree should never ever be united, people were less stressed if they had had a hearty dose of vitamin C prior to the ordeal. They had less cortisone in their body (the stress hormone), and a lower blood pressure.

I mean, vitamin C is also great when you’re ill. Alright mum! No, but really. Ill people aren’t happy. Don’t want to be ill and stressed? Have an orange every once in a while.


One for the ladies, Saffron combats PMS and menstruation cramps. It also standardises your cycle, so emergency tampons will no longer be an issue (only me?). This is because it maintains a consistent hormone level. Works in a similar way to the pill. I’m certainly happier without cramps, thank you very much. You probably are too.

There are numerous ways to get saffron into your diet. I myself like saffron rice, although some advise taking it with milk or water.


You’re probably now doubting the legitimacy of this article. But hear me out. Low blood sugar causes irritability and unhappy mood swings. As well as the obvious fatigue from lack of energy. The important thing here (about to burst everyone’s bubble, including my own), is that refined sugar in chocolate isn’t going to do you any favours. I’m talking about the (more) healthy kind of sugar you find in fruit. Slow release energy is good. Like from bananas. So basically, everyone banging on about five a day probably does have grounding in fact after all.