Boost your mood with food!

Every morning, I spring out of bed, ready to embrace the day. My feet don't hit the floor so much as lightly touch down as I traipse to the kitchen to make a delicious breakfast. When I get there, in a fit of inspiration, I decide to make my family omelettes with freshly baked sourdough on the side. I've got a perpetual smile on my face, kind of like Jim Carrey's character in the Truman Show.

This is the stuff of fiction, indeed. Most days I do not traipse down to the kitchen, it's more of a sleepy shuffle. Nor do I whip up omelettes (though that does sound yummy).  Like everyone, I have my emotional ups and downs. That said, I do feel like, more often than not, I am in a good mood. What accounts for my sunny outlook? It's not that I have the disposition of the children on "Barney."  Nor is life always smooth sailing. And though I'm certain that faith and positive relationships help, that is not the whole picture.

I believe good food makes a difference in my mood, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. Studies (including this one from the Mayo clinic) have consistently shown a connection between what we eat and how we feel, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally, as well! The example that made the biggest impression on me, in my studies with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, were of schools with serious behavioral issues who saw a turn around when the cafeteria began offering fresher, healthier food. Nothing. else. at the school changed. Just the food.

Maybe you don't have behavioral issues of your own. Fantastic! But perhaps you could still benefit from a more positive disposition. If so, here are some foods sure to boost your mood!

Eggs  - Those omelettes weren't a bad idea, after all! Eggs were vilified for a while there, but thank goodness people are rediscovering this perfect little food, in a travel-friendly case (the shell). They contain vitamin D, a sure-fire mood boeggoster.

Wild-caught fish - Sally Fallon, the author of Nourishing Traditions, calls fish "the health food par excellence." Fish is an excellent source of vitamins A and D. And they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids, that naturally lift our spirits. Studies show that those who eat fish on the regular are less likely to struggle with depression or heart disease. Don't like "fishy-smelling" or "fishy-tasting" fish? Try tilapia or salmon with lemon.

Saturated fats - Go ahead and indulge in butter, coconut oil or even lard! Our bodies actually need saturated fats for proper cell function, to help our bones absorb calcium and to avoid heart disease. Give them a try and see if you don't start to see the world in a more positive slant. Lard is another wonderful source of vitamin D, by the way. (And if the idea of lard makes you shudder, hear the back story from this piece on NPR about how and why it got a bad rap.)

Liver and organ meats - In Mexico, they sell brain tacos. Olé! No kidding! Why do we have to travel abroad to try "variety meats?" These meats are replete with vitamins that our bodies need. Liver, in particular, among other things offers mood-boosting vitamins B12, A, D, E, and K. Chris Kresser calls liver "nature's most potent superfood." For those of us who are unaccustomed to such exotic foods, I suggest trying liverwurst as a "gateway" organ meat; it has a more mild taste than some others. Use it to start exploring these nutrient-dense and beneficial foods.

Yogurt - Last, but not least, this tasty, versatile food is the LBD (little black dress) of mood-boosting foods. It's always appropriate, for any occasion!  It's also a surprising source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 deficiency has been fingered as the source of some fatigue and depression. Lift your spirit by the spoonful!


Let me know if you currently eat any of the above, or if you're willing to give any new foods a try. I'm absolutely positive that you will become more absolutely positive by doing so!