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Food, Mood and Well-Being: How to Eat for Happiness


Happiness is one of those abstract things that doesn’t have a scientific way of measuring it, and yet everyone always seems to be striving for more of it. Here in the United States it seems as though happiness is something that is falling despite people’s efforts to raise it. According to a United Nations report, the United States sits at #18 in the world for happiness, with European countries sitting on top of the list. So, what is the solution? What is the secret to happiness?

Unfortunately, there is no concrete answer, but there is plenty of research that points to food as being a huge factor in a person’s overall well-being and their mood. In fact, you can actually eat your way to happiness in a way, not in volume but in picking foods that do your mind and body good. Here are some food-related tips and advice that can help turn your mood around and leave you feeling happier in life.

Choose Foods That Are High in Dopamine

Dopamine is a really interesting organic chemical that is found in everyone. It is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for carrying signals between the brain cells. It plays a massive role in your everyday behaviors in either a positive way, or a negative way when you have an imbalance happening.

As discussed on Vitamonk in a blog regarding dopamine and how to increase it, when a person lacks dopamine they are more likely to be moody, unmotivated, have sleep issues, have a sense of laziness, feel hopeless, feel fidgety, have problems focusing, and have issues remembering things. All of these symptoms will obviously have a huge negative impact on your level of happiness. So as the blog discusses, by elevating your level of dopamine, you’ll start to see those symptoms ease up and even disappear.

One of the best and most natural ways to increase your level of dopamine is by choosing foods that are high in the chemical. These foods tend to be high in protein. Examples include chicken, eggs, salmon, avocados, turkey, beets, fish, almonds, nuts, beans, and cheese. As well, you want to cut back on sugar and choose things like honey and stevia extra if you need that sweetness instead.

Fill Up On Plants

Another rule to follow if you’re looking to improve your level of happiness is to increase the amount of plants that you eat. This means a significant boost in the amount of vegetables you are eating. Not only are they rich in antioxidants that will fight off diseases, they also have a strong effect on your mood. There have been studies done on the topic that show that when you increase your vegetable consumption, anxiety, depression, mood, and other mental health issues decrease.

Make Sure You are Fueling Your Brain Cells

Another useful tip is to ensure you are fueling your brain cells. This is done through carbohydrates, but not just any kind; you want to choose the complex carbohydrates. These are the carbs that you find in whole grains, vegetables, and fruit.

Complex carbohydrates work by slowly releasing glucose into your body. What this does is act as a mood stabilizer so you won’t suffer from those dips and peaks.

Simple carbohydrates are completely different as they release a quick feeling of happiness and will trick you into feeling satisfied, but then you will feel a big dip not long after. These types of carbs are typically found in high-sugar drinks and snacks.

When it comes to carbs, the key is to think about what will give the most lasting benefits rather than that short-lived high.

Don’t Forget Your Gut Health

Then there is your gut health, which is becoming more and more of a focus for doctors and the research community. It turns out that probiotics and prebiotics work in the same way as an anti-depressant. That’s not to say that you should stop taking your medication, it just shows how important it is to have a healthy stomach. It affects your reactions, your appetite, and your emotions. Probiotics and prebiotics can be found in cheese, yogurt, and fermented foods just to name a few.

Yes, You Can Eat Your Way to Happiness

So, as more and more research is released on just how much of an effect food has on a person’s mood, it becomes clear that you can indeed eat your way to happiness.