What if I told you there are foods we can eat that may have a positive impact on our emotional well-being? Neat, right? Today I’m sharing 3 of those with you!

It’s the dead of winter. The holidays are long gone, we’re cold, we’re tired of only seeing the sun once a week, and we’re ready to see it rise before 7:30 am. The bleak weather can definitely take a toll on our moods and we’re looking for anything and everything that might make us feel just a little more cheery. A vacation might help. But food might, too!

The impact of certain foods or nutrients on our moods is an area of interesting research, and it’s encouraging to see that there are certain things we can eat that will play a role in our emotional well-being. Read on to find out three things you can eat to help improve your mood!

Omega-3’s: If you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids, you may have also heard about the role that they play in our heart health. Aside from being protective of our hearts, omega-3 fatty acids provide additional protection to our brains by protective maintaining cognitive function and their role in the prevention and treatment of depression.

So where can I find omega-3’s?

Find them in fatty fish like salmon or mackerel, in walnuts, and in flax seeds or flax seed oil. Try this recipe for Smoked Salmon & Veggie Crackers to boost your omega-3 intake!

Probiotics: As you may have already heard, there exists a link between our gut health and our mental health. Where do probiotics come in? Probiotics are “good bacteria” that can be ingested through certain foods or supplements that will reach our large intestines (aka our “guts”) and keep a balance between the good and bad bacteria residing there.

There has been a lot of excitement around gut/mental health, and due to the connection between our guts and our brains, several studies have shown an association between probiotics and mental health – with outcomes like better management of stress, depression and anxiety as well as improved mental capabilities.

So where can I find probiotics?

Find them in yogurts or products with live culture bacteria like kefir. Or fermented foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and cultured non-dairy yogurts. Try using a probiotic yogurt or kefir in your next bowl of overnight oats! You can also take a probiotic supplement, and I recommend speaking to a dietitian before starting one!

Foods that you enjoy: Why do you eat the foods that you do? Do you truly like what you’re eating? What better way to promote a good mood than doing things that you actually like to do? Eating is no different. Forcing yourself to eat a salad when you’re not in the mood is just setting yourself up for dissatisfaction – and when you’re unsatisfied you’re probably not going to be in a great mood.

I encourage you to listen to your body. Make food choices based on what makes you feel good – physically and emotionally. They don’t call it comfort food for no reason – it lifts our mood! I like to look at food as a means of self-care – for the body the mind. So sometimes that means chocolate chip cookies (eating one as I type…) and sometimes that means greens. No matter what, I try to eat foods that I enjoy.

Disclaimer: I want to mention that these recommendations are not meant to replace professional mental health advice/treatments. Food may absolutely provide supplemental benefits for our moods, but if you’re struggling with your mental health I encourage you to talk about it. Seek help – tell a friend, family member or someone you trust. Talk to your doctor, a licensed mental health practitioner and determine the best treatment options for you.