It’s possible to adjust your mood by adjusting your diet. Certain FoodTrients—like choline, omega-3 fatty acids, and tryptophan—promote healthy neurotransmitters in the brain, allowing calming signals to get through more effectively. Many vitamins and minerals—especially B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, and the FoodTrients vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc—are used up when we’re under stress and should be replenished ASAP. To contribute to a good mood, we should be eating whole grains, poultry, eggs, citrus, berries, and dark green veggies.
Putting the right foods into our bodies is only half the battle. We also need to be sure we’re not shooting ourselves in the foot and undermining our good intentions by eating foods that take down our mood. We should be avoiding excess sugar, caffeine, unhealthy fats, and carbs; MSG; and aged cheeses. These substances wreak havoc on our hormones and/or block the production of serotonin—the ultimate feel-good brain chemical. There’s no point in doing what’s right if we’re also going to do what’s wrong at the same time. Exercise is also key, even if it’s only for 15 minutes per day. That short amount will get our heart pumping blood into the tiny capillaries that feed the brain. It will also release stress, a total mood-killer.
Now back to the diet. Good Mood foods include whole grains and poultry. My Cornish Game Hen and Brown Rice Stew, found in my cookbook FoodTrients: Age-defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life, is the perfect Good Mood recipe. The poultry contains tryptophan, which builds serotonin. Brown rice is a whole grain that contains the FoodTrients vitamin E and omega-3 oils and—surprise!—tryptophan. The omega-3s in whole grains help feed the brain so it can produce those soothing chemicals that make us feel better. So try snacking on organic popcorn or roasted pumpkin seeds. In the morning drink hemp milk instead of cow’s milk, eat some organic oatmeal (which also contains tryptophan), or spread a slice of whole-grain toast with sunflower butter. All of these items are natural whole grains and easy to eat.
Stress can rob your body of essential vitamins (B, C, and E) and minerals (calcium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc). Young cheeses (like ricotta and mozzarella) and milk can replenish calcium and vitamin B12. Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, berries, and dark green leafy veggies. So, if you’re under stress, you need foods that will restore these vitamins and minerals, such as whole-grain pasta shells stuffed with a mixture of spinach and ricotta cheese and fresh yogurt with blueberries and strawberries.
Goji berries, an exotic fruit from the Himalayan Mountains, have been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years. They contain vitamins B1 and B6, vitamin C, selenium, zinc, and the antioxidants beta-carotene and zeaxanthin. These super-fruits also contain protein. In other words, they’re perfectly positioned to replenish a stressed-out body. Goji berries can be very tart, but there is a natural food company called Amy & Brian that infuses goji juice into mangosteen juice, making it a little sweeter. Mangosteens are rife with powerful antioxidants called xanthones, plus they taste delicious and remind me of home.
After tasting Amy & Brian juices, I created a de-stressing, mood-lifting drink with Amy & Brian’s Mangosteen-Goji juice, chia seeds (which are full of mood-enhancing omega-3 oils), green tea (which has mood-boosting magnesium), and coconut palm sugar for sweetening. It’s so delicious, and it puts me in a good mood right away.
Mangosteen-Goji Mood Lifter
1 cup brewed green tea (regular or decaf)
2 tsp. white chia seeds
1 tsp. coconut-palm sugar
1 8-oz. can of Amy & Brian Mangosteen with Goji Juice
Soak chia seeds in hot tea for 30 minutes. They will gelatinize and start to float throughout the liquid. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add the mangosteen-goji juice and mix well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.