Most people have favorite foods. You might enjoy high-carb meals when you’re feeling down, such as a baked potato or a few slices of pizza. However, there are some foods that can provide you with a more enduring mood boost without excess calories. Following are three options to try if you need an emotional or mental boost.
Studies show that Mediterranean food has more benefits than just keeping inches off your waistline. Writing for the Washington Post, Cara Rosenbloom reports that Mediterranean foods can help decrease your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus, it’s negatively correlated with depression and cognitive decline.
Try adding falafel to your grocery list. It’s a Mediterranean staple that adds interesting flavors to some of your favorite foods. Spread it out flat to make a Mediterranean sandwich or wrap with greens, tomatoes, cucumber, spinach, and grilled chicken breast. Alternatively, eat it like croutons with your favorite Mediterranean salad. Whatever concoction you create, drizzle with olive oil and pepper to bring out the flavor.
For many people, the word “fat” suggests something negative or naughty, but healthy fats can actually boost your mood. According to a study published in Nutritional Neuroscience in 2015, foods with high levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids help stave off depression.
Fatty fish provides plenty of those healthy fats. Add salmon, mackerel, and tuna to your diet to reap those benefits. Grilled salmon marinated in lemon juice and served with hearty veggies or legumes can make the perfect summer meal. For lunch, consider packing a tuna salad wrap.
Nuts and seeds also contain omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re feeling hungry between meals, consider snacking on almonds or cashews to eliminate hunger pains and keep depressive feelings at bay. You can also sprinkle seeds or legumes over fish to boost the fatty benefits.
If you’re making salads out of nothing but arugula and spinach, you’re missing out. Mixed salads with lots of flavors taste good and increase your consumption of whole foods. According to many recent scientific studies, whole foods help you feel better.
A whole food is one that hasn’t been processed. In other words, you consume it in its whole form. Mixed salads can include anything from fresh fruits and vegetables to nuts, seeds, legumes, and lean meats. Combining those flavors in new ways will help keep your diet from feeling stale.
If you want to make a filling salad, use foods like avocado and grilled chicken or fish as your base. Throw in complementary foods like crushed almonds, sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes, and basil. Finish it off with a Mediterranean salad dressing or sprinkle with shredded hard cheese.
Eating well isn’t always just about your body. Whole, nutrient-rich foods can also improve your emotional and mental health. Plus, even sweet foods can help boost your home. For instance, dark chocolate can decrease stress hormones, so after you make one of the delicious dishes above, feel free to indulge in a few squares of high-flavanol chocolate. Want to start eating happier? LIfesum’s guide to happier eating is a great place to start.