food and mood

Food and Mood: How Nutrition Impacts Your Mental Health

We’ve all heard the saying “You are what you eat,” but it turns out that conventional wisdom may ring even truer than we realized. A growing body of research is highlighting the connection between your diet and your overall outlook on life. 

Unhealthy Eating Patterns Can Lead to Mood Swings

We’ve all experienced the feeling of “hanger,” or being cranky because you missed a meal. When your blood sugar drops, your blood releases hormones to regulate it. Those same hormones can make you feel irritable and out of sorts. 

Your mind and body can’t function at peak capacity if they lack fuel from the food you eat. Here’s how some unhealthy eating habits can alter your mood and emotional well-being.

  • Lacking variety in your diet: We refer to the idea of a “balanced diet” for a good reason. If you don’t have enough variety in the foods you eat, you may be lacking the essential nutrients you need to boost your mood and maintain consistent energy levels. 
  • Excessive refined carbohydrates: Processed carbs, such as white bread and doughnuts, cause dramatic fluctuations in blood sugar. As a result, you may find yourself in a bad mood.
  • Not eating at set intervals: If your eating schedule is irregular, it throws off other patterns in your body as well. 

Foods You Can Eat to Boost Your Mood

While research is still uncovering more about the effects of dietary patterns on mental health issues, we know specific foods can help you be more resilient. Here are some foods to add to your next shopping list.

Whole Foods

Food that’s minimally processed, such as fresh produce, can stave off depression. Try incorporating fruits and vegetables with many different colors for maximum nutritional benefits. 

High-Fiber Foods

Fiber-rich foods like whole grains, beans and vegetables help your body absorb sugar more slowly, which enables you to avoid the mood swings associated with sugar rushes and crashes. Fiber also helps your digestive system stay healthy.


These inflammation fighters are especially plentiful in berries and omega-3-rich foods such as salmon.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as spinach and kale are rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps stimulate production of a feel-good hormone called dopamine.

Vitamin D

The sun’s rays provide the energy your skin needs to make vitamin D, but you can also get it from fish and egg yolks.


This essential mineral helps regulate your heart rate and improve your muscle and nerve function. A magnesium deficiency can harm the balance of bacteria in your gut, leading to symptoms that mimic anxiety and depression. Natural sources of magnesium include such as dark chocolate, cacao nibs, almonds and cashews, dark leafy greens, beans and bananas.

A Balanced Diet Leads to Emotional Stability

Eating the right foods can help you feel your best and preserve your emotional well-being. If you have concerns about your mental health, contact us to discover freedom from your challenges. At Serene Behavioral Health, we provide four levels of care for adults who need guidance in navigating the challenges of everyday life.

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