How Certain Foods Can Change Your Mood

Feeling grumpy or a little down in the dumps? It could be the foods you eat! The food-mood connection has been the subject of recent research, and many experts now recognize that certain foods have a powerful effect on mood. Motivating our decisions is also money, as we ask ourselves how to eat healthy on a budget and the answer is simple: plan ahead!

It stands to reason. Food has chemical properties, vitamins, and minerals. Recent research has shown that the nutrients in food are precursors to neurotransmitters. Depending on which foods you eat, you develop certain levels of those neurotransmitters, which can vastly affect mood. The secret, however, lies in knowing which foods have an overall net positive effect on mood, and which assert a negative effect.

foods-that-affect-your-mood

Mood Draining Foods

First, let’s look at the foods that can negatively affect your mood.

1. Soy:

Foods that contain naturally occurring substances called goitrogens have a negative impact on the thyroid. This can lead to exhaustion and irritability, among other things. Products made from soy contain goitrogens, which interfere with thyroid function and can greatly affect mood.
Alternatives: Drink nut milks such as almond milk, and look for other healthy plant sources of proteins such as nuts, legumes, or grains like quinoa.

Fermented soy products, such as tempeh and miso are acceptable because the fermentation process disables some of soy’s negative properties.

2. Diet soda:

Many people choose diet soda, believing it is a healthy choice. Diet soft drinks, however, are loaded with chemicals including artificial sweetener. Many people who consume diet soda report a number of health issues including headaches and mood swings.
Alternatives: Drink fresh water with a squeeze of lemon.

3. Sugar:

It may seem that consuming sugar in any of its forms (including agave or high-fructose corn syrup) provides a natural energy pick me up. The truth is it leads to a rise in blood glucose. As your blood glucose rises, your body releases insulin to return it to safe levels. As blood glucose normalizes, you may experience an energy dip with resultant mood changes.
Alternatives: Try natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol.

4. Coffee:

A cup of coffee seems like a pick-me-up, and many people rely on caffeinated beverages to give them the boost they need to start their day. Caffeine, however, works on the adrenaline centers of the brain, and can trigger anxiety. With such anxiety can come irritability and mood swings.
Alternatives: Start your day with a Glowing Green Smoothie. It will give you energy without negatively affecting your mood.

foods-that-make-you-feel-good

Feel Good Foods

Just as certain foods can negatively impact moods, others can lift you up and make you feel terrific.

1. Complex carbohydrates:

Eating unrefined carbohydrates can boost the level of serotonin in your brain, which can elevate your mood. The trick is in finding those carbohydrates that are minimally processed and don’t lead to blood sugar spikes and troughs.
Foods to try: quinoa, millet, steel cut oatmeal or oat groats (not instant), brown rice

2. High-selenium foods:

Selenium deficiency can lead to irritability, depression and thyroid problems. Eating foods high in selenium, however, can support thyroid function and boost mood, but don’t overdo it. Your body doesn’t need much selenium, and you should be able to get adequate amounts from dietary sources.
Foods to try: Brazil nuts, crimini mushrooms

3. High folate foods:

Folate deficiency has been linked to depression, because it can decrease serotonin levels in the brain. Eating foods high in this B vitamin can overcome deficiencies, boosting your mood.
Foods to try: Dark, leafy greens like spinach, and legumes like lentils or kidney beans.

4. Foods containing omega-3 fats:

A 2006 study at the University of Pittsburgh showed that people with lower blood levels of the polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids had an increased likelihood of mild depression and poor moods. Eating foods high in this valuable fat can improve mood.
Foods to try: Flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds

5. Foods high in vitamin D:

Vitamin D comes predominately from sunlight absorption. In northern climates and during the winter, many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency, which can lead to mood problems. Because of this, many experts recommend vitamin D supplementation or eating foods high in this nutrient during the winter or in northern climates.
Foods to try: Shiitake mushrooms

6. Fatty plant foods:

The brain needs fat to function properly. Unfortunately, conventional wisdom suggests that all fats are bad for you, leaving people woefully deficient in this brain-friendly macronutrient required for healthy function. While you don’t need a lot of fat to boost your mood, you do need some. Beauty fat is important for moisturized, youthful skin.
Foods to try: Avocado, coconut oil, nuts

7. Spicy foods:

Need a little pick-me-up? Spicy, warming foods can increase circulation, cause your brain to release endorphins, and help boost your mood.
Foods to try: Chili peppers

8. Foods high in magnesium:

Many people are deficient in this essential nutrient, or wind up with an imbalance of calcium to magnesium. The mineral, however, has mild muscle relaxing qualities that can help reduce stress and improve mood.
Foods to try: Artichoke, beet greens, almonds, kidney beans

9. Iron-rich foods:

If you don’t have enough iron in your blood, you may experience exhaustion, depression, and irritability. Eating iron-rich foods can assure you keep your red blood cells pumped up with oxygen, keeping you in a great mood.
Foods to try: Pumpkin seeds, legumes, sea vegetables

10. Glowing Green Smoothie:

How you start your day makes a huge difference. While many have interpreted “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” to mean that they must eat a large, dense, breakfast, I believe that high-protein, heavy breakfasts start you off sluggishly. That can weigh you down physically and mentally all day long. Likewise, skipping breakfast can lead to blood sugar problems, also affecting mood. The Glowing Green Smoothie is the perfect option for breakfast, because it is a light meal that gives you tons of energy but doesn’t weigh you down.

Don’t let the foods you eat leave you down in the dumps! Once you start eating a healthy, unprocessed diet containing the nutrients your body needs, you may quickly discover that you not only feel physically better, but that your moods are better than they have ever been.

This free blog is intended to be a source of inspiration to everyone around the world. We welcome your feedback through relevant, constructive, thoughtful comments. Please understand for legal reasons, I cannot answer specific/personal medical condition questions on the blog. For customer service issues or inquiries regarding purchases of any kind, go to http://support.kimberlysnyder.com. For all other questions or feedback, click here. For press inquires, email us here. Thank you for engaging and adding to the conversation!

73 Responses to “How Certain Foods Can Change Your Mood

  1. Kidney red beans are commonly used in chili soup chili con carne and are an integral part of the cuisine in northern regions of India. Red kidney beans are used in New Orleans and much of southern Louisiana for the classic Monday Creole dish of red beans and rice. The smaller, darker red beans are also used, particularly in Louisiana families with a recent Caribbean heritage. Small kidney beans used in La Rioja, Spain, are called caparrones…`;:

  2. It is important that you know your blood type as well a many of the suggested items above are bad for people whom are Type A Blood types.

  3. Hi Kim! I have a quick question about Soy; is it all bad for you? Like I use a soy butter and soynut butter (instead of peanut butter). The label states “Non GMO”.

  4. 3rd day in having green smoothie and im so tired but after reading your blog post its the soy in my coffee. Im finding it hard to give up coffee. eating lots of salads, juices, nuts and fruit but always tired – any advice?

    • Hi Michelle. I used to drink coffee all the time because I had to be up for work at 4 am; however, I found that it aggravated my anxiety levels. It would also spike my energy levels for an hour then they would shoot back down forcing me to have a cup every couple of hours! If you can’t possible break the caffeine habit, I would just switch to adding almond milk, a tsp. of vanilla extract and a package or two of stevia. Also, the first week I was tired also when switching my diet to the recommendations of Kimberly’s book but I am now in the end of my second week (and I don’t follow it to a “T”) and I am no longer tired. I feel, in a way, rejuvenated like I had restful sleep even when I hadn’t the night before. Also, in her book ( I will try to find the page and get back to you) I am pretty sure I read that you might feel tired, bloated and get some headaches the first few days you start the detox but it subsides rather quickly. My symptoms went away after the first 3 days. I hope this helps :)

  5. Hi Kimberly,

    I have been following your diet for a year now. The first 6 months was incredible. Now, after I drink the GGS, I feel weighed down, bloated, gassy, irritable, and have been constipated a lot. I used to have the flattest stomach. Now after I have the GGS, I feel like it’s stuck in there and not digesting for some reason, and at the same time, I’m still hungry after it. (I drink about 20 ounces worth a day). Maybe I’m putting too many greens in? Or should I maybe switch to the juice?

    Thank you,
    PK

  6. Hi Kimberly,

    If have a magnesium deficiency and the doctor recommended me magnesium pills (for four weeks/twice a year), I don’t know how I feel about that, what’s your opinion??? Here in France we have water from sources with high amounts of magnesium but they tend to be accompanied with high amounts of sodium as well, so I don’t like that… I am not sure about the pills, although I’m not sure either that only with food I’ll be able to achieve the right level of this mineral. Thanks!

  7. I believe this is among the most important info for me. And i’m satisfied studying your article. But want to commentary on few basic issues, The website taste is great, the articles is truly great : D. Just right task, cheers

  8. Dear Kimberly, congrats, very useful what you write, I enjoy it a lot.
    About coconut oil, I have studied that coconut has a lot of saturated fat, and that it is no good for health. You recomend coconut oil, have you heard it is healthy? Regards, Jeanette
    look for Snackiss in Facebook

    • Hi Jeannette, coconut oil is saturated, but is cholesterol-free and behaves differently in the body than animal saturated fat. It is made up of medium chain fatty acids, which nourish the thyroid and are converted into energy. xx

  9. I definitely never touch soy or soda. Sugar sometimes, but coffee all the time, maybe that’s why I keep getting mood swings.
    Also another great omega 3 food is macadamia nuts. Thank you for the post :)

  10. Hi Kimberly,

    I am currently following the Body Ecology to heal my gut dysbiosis, my tests showed
    imbalance in heathy/unhealthy gut bacteria levels. I am eating cultured veggies, and drinking coconut kefir, drink lemon/warm water first thing in am, have a green smoothie 1/2 hr later yet my skin has rashes, acne, inflammation getting worse daily. I have battled acne since I was 17 and had been all the meds and BC pills so I assume this is detoxing. I cannot afford colonics right now as I am a student and I did try enemas but always feel bad after doing them. I gave up all dairy since December and caffeine, gluten. I feel my diet is the best I can be, make all my own salads, soups, etc. I know the cultured foods are best, since I tried the probiotic pills and they did not help at all. I would love your suggestions, I am reading your book but am unemployed and want to have beautiful skin one day!!
    I love your book and website…..have been doing this diet since May 2011 with a few mistakes along the way!

    I appreciate any advice you can give since I am so discouraged at the moment.

    Thank You!

    Namaste.

    • Hi Raffia,
      I am in a similar situation as you. I got off the BC pill nov. of last year and have been battling acne ever since (mostly on my jawline and temples). My diet has been gluten-free, unprocessed, anti-inflammatory, and probiotic-rich. Like you, I’m discouraged because the acne is still there. I’d like to know how your skin is doing so far.. Are you still doing the Body Ecology?

  11. Hi Kimberly! I wanted to thank you for answering my question about food combining. You are so sweet to take the time to answer all of our questions! So here I have another one for you- Do you know what imbalance in my body may be causing acne on the outside areas of the face? My t-zone is perfectly clear but for some reason on my cheekbones, temples and jawline i have been getting very bad acne for about the past year and a half. I am only seventeen. Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy life to answer these questions. Keep up the good work, you are simply amazing! xoxo

  12. hi kimberly, i just wanted to say thanks for responding to my question in the other post, its so awesome you take the time to reply to everyone.

  13. Hi Kim!

    I was wondering if the cashews for your key lime bars have to be soaked first? Also what specific brand of cocunut oil do you recommend? Thanks ;-)

    • Hey Nicole, since cashews are rarely (if ever) truly raw (they are steamed out of their shells, which contain a toxic compound), soaking is not recommended. Remember cashews are super heavy so only have a little treat at a time!
      I like Nutiva, Spectrum Naturals and Dr. Bronner for coconut oil. :) xx

  14. Thanks to my friend Luz that is always looking out for me, I love this article since I have an underactive thyroid and mild depression – it is always a strugle for me to feel energetic lately. Keep them coming…

    • Hi Doris,
      I hope these foods and info really helps you! Stay upbeat and positive and please come visit again. xx

    • Your opinion on Yacon Syrup, as well? I read somewhere that it is prebiotic so a good natural sweetener, but it is high in fructose versus glucose, is this better?

      • Yacon syrup does function as a prebiotic. Yacon stores carbohydrate as FOS – a polymer composed mainly of fructose. It is a form that some claim isn’t absorbed into the body in the same way as other forms of fructose, but I have found conflicting info on it. I prefer coconut nectar, which is low glycemic and nutrient-rich. xx

  15. Kimberly, I totally get the soy issue, is rice and oat milk (easier and considerably cheaper to purchase) an okay alternative to almond milk? M x
    P.S Am a complete addict of the GGS, it has changed my mornings!!

    • Hey Monica, fantastic! Rice and oat milk are okay alternatives if the cost is an issue- but drink with moderation as rice milk usually has some polyunsaturated oils added in there. Almond milk is pretty inexpensive at Trader Joe’s and some other commercial grocery stores! Come visit me again. xx

  16. This is good stuff, Kim. Looking forward to introducing yet more of my students to the Glowing Green Smoothie this weekend at my Yoga weekend. I’ve converted several already :-)

  17. Hi Kimberly!
    I do 50% of your diet but I can’t eat beans, lentils… I’m lactose tolerance. I also want to cut red meat. What can I do about it? Have a good day.
    Fiza Nazari
    Toronto

    • Hi Fiza,
      Beans and lentils are not a big part of my diet. Try quinoa, millet and other whole grains, tempeh which is a fermented soy (so better than tofu or other choices), avocado sandwiches, etc. xx

  18. Hi Kimberly! What are your thoughts on coffee flavoring? I throw in about 1/4 teaspoon in my almond milk sometimes, but I’m not sure if this is truly much better? It doesn’t make me feel as dehydrated that’s for sure! Thanks!! Kim

    • Hi Kjh, that doesn’t sound like a huge deal- especially if there are no artificial sweeteners in there. Now if you told me you were throwing it into your skim dairy milk, then we’d have to have a little talk about your milk choice. :)

  19. Hi Kim,
    thanks for this blog and the whole program…i’m just starting with it but i already love it
    few questions: when to eat fruit-before or after glowing green smoothie?
    can i split the amount i get from mixing all ingredients for the glowing green smoothie on 2 days? it seems a lot to drink all of it at once.
    are prunes ok to eat and if yes when?
    thanks again!!
    lots of love
    Zaklina

    • Hi Zaklina!
      You can have fruit before or after, though I usually say do the GGS first if you can. You can split the amount, and yes prunes are great. I would have them in the afternoon. xx

  20. Hi Kim,
    thanks for this blog and the whole program…i’m just starting with it but i already love it :)
    few questions: when to eat fruit-before or after glowing green smoothie?
    can i split the amount i get from mixing all ingredients for the glowing green smoothie on 2 days? it seems a lot to drink all of it at once.
    are prunes ok to eat and if yes when?
    thanks again!!
    lots of love
    Zaklina

  21. Hi Kimberly! My husband and I will spend two months backpacking around SE Asia this winter, and I’m wondering how to stick with the plan while there. We’re not supposed to eat raw veggies or salads or unpeeled fruits; I’ve heard there are good fruit shakes, though. Right now I start every day with a glowing green smoothie and eat lots of raw salads, veggies, seeds, and nuts. We’re both vegetarians. I know you’ve traveled in that part of the world. Any suggestions on how we can keep things going while were there? I can’t imagine going two months with no raw veggies!! Thanks so much!

    • Hi eej! I spent many months backpacking through SE Asia. It is up to you and what you’re comfortable with, but I personally ate a lot of raw produce over there. I took probiotics to boost my immunity the whole time. I ate a ton of coconuts, which contain lauric acid, which has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities. I also ate lots of pineapple, durian, papaya and many tropical fruits. I ate a ton of veggie soups, which is safe because it is hot, and the veggies are not too cooked. I felt amazing while being there! xx

    • It’s good to bring activated charcoal tablets too if you start to get intestinal distress. They help clear out the toxins. My husband and I were doing the same trip once and we both got sick but I loaded up on the charcoal (high doses several times a day) when it seemed like I was getting sick (feverish too as well as diarrhea) while my husband put down my “folk” medicine and called in a doctor. I got over it quickly without wiping out the flora in my gut with antibiotics while he had to take some pretty heavy duty stuff. Before you go, make sure you strengthen your immune system and load up on probiotics (plus bring them along as well in high doses). Love your advice too, Kimberly! Didn’t know that about the pineapple, coconut, etc.

  22. Hi Kimberly:
    Thank you for sharing all the great information and knowledge you have about food and its impact on our bodies. How does sprouting soy affect the negative goitrogens raw soy contains?
    ~Jodi

    • Hey Jodi, fermenting helps break down and convert the harmful properties – in a way cooking does not do. So cooking is not as beneficial as fermenting (which involves beneficial bacteria cultures), which is also a different process than sprouting. xx

  23. Thanks Kim for this very informative post! I agree with you there about caffiene and sugar and have found a smoothie in the morning with natural fruit sugars, goji powder, and chia seeds really gives me an incredible energy boost! I also LOVE xylitol as a sweetner. I chew a piece of Spry gum in spearmint after lunch, which contains xylitol, it is so delicious and xylitol is super sweet tasting much like confectioners sugar on its own. Once again, great tips!

    • Hey Kristen, that’s great. I love chia seeds- though I recommend them in the afternoon rather than the morning, and the GGS in the morning.
      I like xylitol too. xx

  24. Does Fructose, the sugar in fruit, also leads to a rise in blood glucose also cause the exact same thing as sugar – “As your blood glucose rises, your body releases insulin to return it to safe levels. As blood glucose normalizes, you may experience an energy dip with resultant mood changes”.

    • Sugar does naturally contain some fructose. It also contains lots of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients. I don’t recommend full fruit smoothies- and that is why the Glowing Green Smoothie is about 70% green, with some fruit. The greens and chlorophyll are very stabilizing and low sugar. xx

    • You can find steel cut oats and oat groats in the organic section of most grocery stores. It is the least processed of the oatmeals and it takes a little longer to cook but I find them satisfying my hunger longer than a minute, microwaveable package of oatmeal. You can almost taste the substance rather than light mush.

  25. is it ok to make the GGS the night before? Does it still retain all its goodness? Only I have no time in the mornings to make it but love it and could drink it on the way.

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