Eat Like a Happy Person

Take a new approach to eating and see your mood soar.

You know those people who are always cheerful? It might not just be their personality that makes them joyful, but what’s on their dinner plate. Certain foods or ways of eating are proven to boost mood. So isn’t it time you started to eat like a happy person? Here are some tricks you could incorporate into your life today.

Stay Out of the Supermarket

While some foods have mood-boosting powers, food coach Sue Montgomery feels it’s not worth adding any of them if your diet isn’t basically healthy to start with. Her top tip to improve things is to eat foods as close to nature as possible and stay away from the mega-stores.

“If you shop at small specialist stores the butcher, baker, greengrocer it’s virtually impossible to eat processed foods,” she says. “And that helps reduce exposure to additives that can negatively influence mood.” Remember, the best diet focuses on fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins like fish and meat, so load up on those.

Breakfast on Some Cereal

In studies at the UK’s University of Cardiff, people eating a 40g bowl of cereal daily experienced better mood and a 10 percent boost in energy in as little as seven days. Why? The mood effect has been linked to the cereal providing a well-needed shot of glucose to the brain first thing.

The drop in fatigue? This is linked partly to the fact that fibre turns into short-chain fatty acids from which we can make energy, but also because it seems to boost the level of healthy bacteria in the body. This then leads to the decline in the population of less friendly bugs called clostridia, which actually create neurotoxic chemicals that can affect our minds.

Watch for Sensitivities

Dietitian Linda Hodge specialises in diagnosing and treating food chemical intolerance (FCI) where people are sensitive to ingredients, both added and natural, in foods. “And it can be linked to mood issues like irritability, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and fatigue,” says Hodge.

There’s no reliable test for FCI and even keeping a food diary may not help as symptoms are often delayed. Therefore the only definite way to spot FCI is to seek help from a dietitian to try and work out exactly what ingredient is causing them.

“One thing to mention though is that mood symptoms rarely come alone with food chemical intolerance,” says Hodge. “Most people will have physical issues like digestive disorders or skin problems alongside the emotional symptoms.” If you have psychological symptoms, but not the physical ones, then it’s unlikely that FCI is your issue. If that’s the case, it’s worth talking to your GP.