Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Foods to Help You Feel Better

6 ways to add mood-boosting foods to your diet.
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Are you feeling down in the dumps? Are you irritated at how often you’ve been irritable?

Perhaps it’s time to look at the foods and drinks you consume to see if they are trashing your mood. Nutrition experts say that the foods you eat can help you feel better -- or feel worse -- in the short-term and the long-term. 

  • Meal-to-meal and day-to-day, keeping your blood sugars steady and your gastrointestinal (GI) tract running smoothly will help you feel good and energetic. If your blood sugars are on a roller-coaster ride -- hitting highs and lows from too much sugar and refined flour – you are more likely to feel out of sorts. This is also true if your gastrointestinal system is distressed due to intense hunger from a fad diet or constipation because you aren’t getting enough fiber and water.  
  • Week-to-week and month-to-month, keeping your body healthy and disease-free makes good moods more likely. For example, key nutrients you get in certain foods can influence the levels of feel-good hormones such as serotonin. Other nutrients can help prevent inflammation so blood circulates well to all of your organs.

“Eating a heart healthy diet -- high in fiber and low in saturated fat -- is a great place to start to boost your mood. There isn’t any question about it, says Diane M. Becker MPH, ScD, director of the Center for Health Promotion at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Conversely, “a high-fat, high-glycemic load meal can make you physically feel dysfunction in your body. People who eat this type of meal tend to feel bad and sleepy afterwards,” she says.

6 Tips for Foods and Beverages That Help You Feel Good

1. Seek out foods rich in vitamin B12 and folic acid (folate).

What’s special about chili made with kidney beans and lean beef? Or a light chicken Caesar salad made with skinless chicken breast and romaine lettuce? Or grilled salmon with a side of broccoli?

All these dishes feature one food that is rich in folic acid (folate) and another that is rich in vitamin B12. These two vitamins appear to help prevent disorders of the central nervous system, mood disorders, and dementias, says Edward Reynolds, MD, at the Institute of Epileptology, King’s College, London.

The link between higher food intakes of folate and a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms crosses cultures, too. A recent study confirmed this association in Japanese men. 

Folic acid is usually found in beans and greens. Vitamin B12 is found in meats, fish, poultry, and dairy.

Other dishes that feature B-12 and folic acid-rich foods include:

  • A burrito or enchilada made with black beans plus beef, chicken, or pork
  • A spinach salad topped with crab or salmon
  • An egg white or egg substitute omelet filled with sauteed spinach and reduced-fat cheese

 

Today on WebMD

Male patient in session with therapist
Article
Depressed looking man
Article
 
mother kissing newborn
Slideshow
depressed woman at work
VIDEO
 
Woman taking pill
Article
Woman jogging outside
Feature
 
man screaming
Article
woman standing behind curtains
Article
 
Pet scan depression
Slideshow
antidepressants slideshow
Article
 
pill bottle
Article
Winding path
Article