Food for good moods
November 25, 2012 1:21 PM   Subscribe

I think my diet is affecting my mood. What should I cook to perk up my mood?

I've been feeling a bit down lately (though not depressed) and I think it's because of an unhealthy diet.

I'm looking for dietary advice and food/meal recommendations.

I'm mostly vegetarian and I sometimes cook for friends, one of whom is vegan, so recommendations for vegan recipes would be excellent.
posted by LSK to Food & Drink (10 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
well I take in brewers yeast in my smoothies and shakes. Brewers Yeast has B12 which is great for moods and stress. Look into the Wellness Forum in Columbus, Ohio. Just google to the get the website address. You will find great info on that site for a healthy plant based diet.Also if you google PCRM, with Dr. Neal Barnard they have a AWESOME site on vegan recipes and meal planning. There is a lot of great books out there and check out pinterest too.
posted by TRUELOTUS at 1:32 PM on November 25, 2012

Try eating a little fruit and a lot of vegetables. A LOT. Eat raw peppers and a sweet potato for breakfast. Keep a full bag of snap peas and baby carrots in your lunch box and bring steam greens and squash to work. Keep a bag of carrots in your car.

Since I started eating this way ~1 year ago I have noticed increased energy and stamina. I don't crash in the afternoon. I don't feel deprived because I still eat yummy crap every day, but it's a much smaller amount because I am satiated from grazing all day.
posted by pintapicasso at 1:38 PM on November 25, 2012

Best answer: You say you are "mostly vegetarian," so I'm not sure if fish is on the menu or not, but my physician recommended (almost mandated) a regular meal of oily fish (such as salmon) to help my mood issues.
posted by yeolcoatl at 1:38 PM on November 25, 2012 [4 favorites]

Yes, yeast! But I like Nutritional Yeast which is super high in B12 and tastes kind of like cheese, its one of the easiest ways to make cheezey sauce for vegans. When I'm eating to stay positive, I also eat relatively light, no big meals, just little snacks all day, digestion takes a tremendous amount of energy. Lots of raw vegetables and though I maintain a vegan kitchen for my husband, my medicine cabinet is NOT vegan and I take fish oil, it really really helps.
posted by stormygrey at 1:42 PM on November 25, 2012

Best answer: I don't know about what you SHOULD eat, but my moods are much much better when I don't eat refined flour, refined sugars , pasta, or even Russet potatoes. I have heard of the "nothing white" diet for losing weight, and I haven't found it's lost me much weight but boy does it help my mood!
posted by small_ruminant at 2:05 PM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Pumpkin seeds have a good amount of protein, and also tryptophan, which is supposed to help regulate serotonin. And for a vegetable, they are pretty high in iron. They're a great snack food, great to mix into cooked veggies, etc. Seaweed is supposed to be high in tryptophan too, I think. Mushrooms are good mood food too; I can't remember specifically why at the moment.

Seconding staying away from sugars - the crash is terrible for mood. Lately I've also realized that soy has a similar impact on me. I'm happy and full in the moment, and then I "crash". I've seen in a few places that something about soy seems to affect estrogen and/or thyroid function; I don't know how legit that is, but I can say that I do feel better without soy (I know, right! What's a vegetarian without soy? But it's doable.)
posted by lesli212 at 2:36 PM on November 25, 2012

Best answer: I'm a vegetarian too. Have you considered vitamin B6 / B12 supplements? One of them (I can't remember which) is a complex that is only found in animal meat. It's a big mood enhancer. I remember experiencing a dive in my moods about 3 months after I became a vegetarian.
posted by mermily at 5:32 PM on November 25, 2012

Life long vegetarian here. Have you had your Vitamin D levels checked lately? When I started feeling down all the time for no real reasons it was because I had a profound D deficiency that was majorly hurting my mood and my energy levels. I had been really sick with a stomach problem for a few months and didn't realize that my new lactose intolerance meant I wasn't absorbing D properly anymore. Supplements helped immediately.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:13 PM on November 25, 2012

Ditto-ing the vitamin D. (D2 if you're after something free of animal products.) Get out in the sun more often if you can. Maybe try eating foods that you used to eat at incredibly joyful times? For example, if you had a happy childhood, or fond memories of food from travels, maybe prepare some of the foods you ate during those times? Also, be sure to check that you're getting your RDA; go in for a physical if you haven't had one this year, and they'll check for nutrient levels in your blood. Be sure to specifically request B12, vitamin D, and iron, in case one of those aren't routine.

Food wise, I'm not sure what you normally eat, but someone above has it right in mentioning maybe avoiding refined foods. I always feel better when I eat whole foods, too. You might want to check out lessons 1 (Stress and Diet) and 2 (High Net Gain Nutrition) of Brendan Brazier's Thrive in 30. They're short, snappy little nuggets of info and you don't need to buy a single one of his expensive Vega products. Warning: he's updating the site soon and replacing this content with an updated e-book or something. Lesson pages are accessible only until December 15th. Subscriptions closed earlier in Nov, and lessons are released via email subscription, but I've linked to the final lesson (12) so that you can easily backtrack to any lesson.
posted by mayurasana at 8:10 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

YMMV but I smiled when I saw someone had already mentioned saffron. The only super obvious to the point of disbelief mood altering dish I have ever had, and I've had it multiple times over the course of many years, is a Persian Saffron, Rosewater, and Pistachio gelato I am sometimes able to find on menus at good Middle Eastern restaurants. Every time I have it I wind up flushed, glowy, literally feeling physically post-orgasmic--excited and "on" first, then eventually content, satisfied, a little dazed and sleepy. It is uncanny. I always thought people were only being figurative about food being like sex before having this dish.

Also, not the ideal mood necessarily but I accidentally discovered (because it became a regular scheduled thing to eat due to gym workout plans) bananas make me sleepy as hell. I thought I was just imagining it but it kept happening without fail, and the effect was super strong and noticeable, then I happened to catch somewhere in passing that they have something to do with seratonin, so that kind of resolves my confusion.
posted by ifjuly at 10:17 AM on November 26, 2012 [1 favorite]

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