1. Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are feel-good foods that boost your serotonin levels. Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ and helps to regulate your mood, improve sleep patterns, regulate digestion, control your appetite and improve memory! Brazil nuts are especially rich in selenium which is a powerful nutrient for stabilising metabolism and has been found to combat feelings of stress. Enjoy a handful of nuts as a quick mood-boosting food to snack on.
2. Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens are a feel-good food packed with vitamin C to help boost your immune system naturally. Leafy greens are also high in folic acid which serves to relieve fatigue and improve your mood, something that is much needed after a long day indoors! Mood-boosting green foods like spinach, kale, watercress can be added to an omlette, and are also great in curries and soups.
3. Beans, pulses and lentils
Beans, pulses, and lentils improve your digestive function while making you feel fuller for longer. These mood-boosting foods also help to lower blood pressure. They are high in folate which is an essential B vitamin for increasing serotonin production and subsequently boosting your mood. Enjoy these wonder foods in soups, curries, salads, and use them to make your own hummus!
Avocados are mood-boosting foods with superpowers! They are full of protein, essential fats, fibre, carbohydrates, and iron. Avocados also contain tyrosine which helps the brain to release more dopamine, a natural compound that evokes feelings of pleasure and is also important for your brain function and motor skills. Avocados taste amazing when smashed into a puree on wholegrain toast with a poached egg. Perfect feel-good food for any time of the day!
Salmon is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which are great for brain function and promoting healthy blood pressure. Omega 3’s are considered crucial for brain and nervous system development and have also been shown to reduce depression. Omega 3 has also been proven to improve skin and hair condition, we all love mood-boosting foods that make us look and feel better too! Try poached salmon served with your leafy greens.
6. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate is the ultimate feel-good food that you can enjoy in moderation, and still be healthy. It contains lots of endorphins which are released by our brains to reduce pain and increase pleasure! Dark chocolate contains caffeine to help perk us up on days when we feel sluggish. Grate some dark chocolate onto your morning porridge, or enjoy a couple of squares as a feel-good food treat. Remember, everything in moderation!
Probiotics are said to improve gut health and digestion. It is believed that this sends positive signals to the brain to help counteract some triggers of depression. Natural yogurt or Kefir sprinkled with nuts, seeds, or a little bit of grated dark chocolate and blueberries are some good suggestions for yummy mood-boosting breakfast foods.
Bananas are packed with vitamin B6 which can help you store energy. They are high in potassium and fibre to help to reduce blood pressure and have also been shown to help prevent cognitive decline and reduce the symptoms of PMS. Bananas can also contribute to your immune system function, as they contain around 17% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. Slice banana onto your morning yoghurt, grab one as a quick mood-boosting snack food, or add to a smoothie.
Oats are full of fibre which can help regulate your digestion. They help your body to release energy slowly to prevent spikes in your blood glucose and quash those lockdown cravings for unhealthy snacks. Oats also contain the mood-boosting mineral selenium, to help keep your spirits lifted. Overnight oats or porridge are fantastic mood-boosting breakfast foods. Try these simple overnight oat recipes at home from Eat This Not That.
Eggs are an every day mood-boosting food hero! They are full of protein and vitamin B12 which help contribute to neurological function – a healthy mind is a happy mind! Eggs are loaded with the nutrient choline, which improves the function of neurotransmitters (helping the brain to maintain efficient contact with the rest of the body). Choline also supports the production of selenium to lift the mood. Enjoy scrambled eggs with some added leafy greens on sourdough or wholegrain toast – an easy and delicious feel-good food to see you through lockdown.
“Cooking at home with fresh ingredients means you know what’s going into your food”.
Joe Wicks, The Body Coach
All of these feel-good foods are ingredients that you can add to your lockdown diet. Eating fresh and avoiding processed meals or fast food where possible will help you to eat more healthily and avoid dips in mood caused by a poor diet.
Cooking and enjoying these hearty feel-good foods will help you feel happier as you tackle the challenges of lockdown. Find more healthy tips to support you in staying healthy at home on the Kinetik Health Blog.