It’s a natural instinct to reach for a pint of ice cream or bag of chips (or both!) when you’re feeling down. After all, those sweet and savory snacks taste so good in the moment. But afterward, you’ll probably be just as sluggish as before, if not more.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to skip snacks all together. Depriving yourself won’t make you feel better, and it may in fact make you sadder or grumpier.
The key is to choose the right snacks to improve your mood. These foods can be both healthy and delicious, we promise. Read on for a list of snacks you should for next time you need a mood boost. (And don’t forget to slip a few into your waistpack or lunch bag next time you’re out and about!)
Kombucha has been around for thousands of years, but recently it has become the hot item on grocery store shelves. While scientists are still studying its health benefits, they suspect that the fermented tea is a good source of probiotics, which can improve your gut health and increase serotonin levels. (Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that affects your sleep, anxiety, and mood.)
Grab a banana when you need a quick boost. The yellow fruit is high in vitamins B6, which impacts your energy and reduces anxiety, and B9, which may help fight depression. Bananas are also a great source for natural sugars, which keep your blood sugar up, so you’re less likely to get irritable and cranky.
Now, don’t go reaching for a box of your favorite childhood cereal that’s full of artificial sugars—but you can enjoy a bowl of fortified whole grain cereal as a healthy snack that will improve your mood. Fortified cereal is loaded with vitamins and nutrients, which impact your overall health and digestion. Plus the added milk provides you some extra vitamin D, which can help prevent depression.
For a tiny snack, nuts are packed with goodies for your mind. Nuts, especially walnuts, are high in omega-3, which has been proven to prevent depression or lessen symptoms in those who are depressed. Almonds and pine nuts have selenium, which can improve your mood. Nuts also play an important part in the Mediterranean diet, which studies have concluded can reduce depression.
Don’t feel guilty about your love for coffee. The caffeine is a natural stimulant, which is great when you need an afternoon pick-me-up. It also increases levels of dopamine and serotonin in your body. See, it’s not in your head: Coffee really does make you happy.
Chickpeas contain a host of nutrients that are good for the brain, including vitamin B6 and choline, which helps your memory and your mood. You can snack on dried chickpeas if you prefer crunchy foods, or blend them into a hummus dip.
There's a good reason why blueberries are often identified as a superfood: The little berries are loaded with nutrients, such as fiber and vitamin C. But most of all they have some of the highest levels of antioxidants out of all foods. One antioxidant in particular, flavonoid, is linked with decreasing risk of depression. Research has even found that children and young adults’ moods improved just a couple of hours after eating blueberries.
8. Dark Chocolate
Turns out it’s not that bad to eat a bunch of chocolate when you’re feeling blue—if it’s dark chocolate and 70% of cocoa or more, that is. The caffeine and serotonin will perk you up, and it also contains a compound that makes your brain happier.
Looking for other ways to boost your mood? These meditation apps can help.
By: Katie Nolan