Who hasn’t craved something sweet or fried while seriously stressed out? The problem is, these comfort foods are not your salvation…actually, quite the opposite. These foods can make you fatigued and raise your blood sugar so you quickly crash afterwards. They promote indigestion, bloating, nausea, poor cognitive function, and can leave you feeling unsatisfied and hungry for more. And those are just the short-term effects!
Sadly, no foods can completely cure a bad day, but there are a ton of healthy options with amazing, mood-boosting ingredients. Make sure your diet is rich in these eight foods to reap those feel-good benefits. We swear, they’ll do more for your mind and body than any fried “comfort food” ever could!
Strawberries, Oranges, and Mango
Vitamin C has serious immune-boosting power, but did you also know that it can boost your mood? This powerful antioxidant has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms by helping your body stop the buildup of free radicals and recover faster from stress (talk about impressive). So start your day off with a bowl of strawberries, oranges, mango and a dollop of Greek yogurt.
Walnuts and Pumpkin Seeds
To keep those good feelin' vibes going, you'll want to indulge in a mid-morning snack, like a handful of walnuts or pumpkin seeds. They're both loaded with omega-3's, which have been shown to improve mood and feelings of self-worth. That means these babies satisfy your hunger andward off feelings of doom and gloom.
If you've made smart food choices all morning long, you're probably doing cartwheels to the water cooler, but don't slow your roll quite yet. It's lunchtime and you might be craving something hearty. As a matter of fact, that mac 'n cheese we mentioned earlier is sounding pretty darn good. Instead of going for that bowl of melted cheese, grab some barley with pepper, turmeric and even some roasted broccoli and asparagus to make this a savory dish. Barley is a complex carbohydrate, which helps stimulate your brain to release serotonin, the "feel-good" hormone. And trust us, these carbs will do much more for your body than that cheese-covered macaroni.
Lunch left you feeling pretty satisfied, but now you're reaching the end of your workday and the patience of your noggin and stomach is starting run low. Grab some celery. The satisfying crunch will allow you to release stress and cause your blood vessels to relax. Research has shown that celery contains a chemical (3-n-butylphthalide), which lowers the concentration of stress hormones in the blood, ultimately causing your body to stress less. Dip your stalks in hummus for some extra protein to keep you satisfied until dinner rolls around.
Grass-fed Beef Chili
You've been avoiding the blues all day with the power of nutrition, now it's time to end the day strong with a delish dinner. Try a veggie-rich, grass-fed beef chili. Add in lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans, and any spices you desire. One study found that consuming grass-fed meat increases blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids and decreases levels of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Both of these changes are linked to a lower risk of depression. And those hearty beans and lentils are packed with folate, a proven defense against anxiety. This hearty chili will be just the happy ending you needed. If you want, add a jalapeno pepper for little extra kick (and vitamin C).