Food is the manifestation of edible pleasure. From the smell of a fresh pot of meatballs simmering on a Sunday or the pure, velvety touch of a scoop of vanilla ice cream, few things in life are more satisfying and pleasing than a fork or spoonful of your favorite edible delight.
In fact, there’s an entire category of grub dedicated to curing unwanted moods. These foods, known as comfort foods, come in all shapes, sizes and, most importantly, flavors.
Though sugary and carbohydrate-rich snacks may offer a temporary burst of mood elevation, you'll quickly find that the happiness a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies may bring is short-lived. Don't confuse taste satisfaction for joy — many junk food snacks will leave you feeling worse than you felt before. Fortunately, there are plenty of foods available that can help transform your temporary happiness into an everlasting sense of cheerfulness.
Skip the drive-thru and opt for a healthy snack packed full of the feel-good nutrients and the vitamins your body deserves. Whether you've got the mid-winter blues or need a delicious treat to put some pep in your step throughout the day, be sure to munch on one of these six tasty foods the next time you need to satisfy your cravings and boost your mood.
1. Red Wine
A sip of red wine, a burst of happiness and added health benefits? Count us in! While other alcohols can pack on the pounds and cause dehydration, red wine is filled to the brim with happiness antioxidants — literally!
Research studies show that drinking several glasses of wine per week provides you with less stress while increasing your level of happiness in the process. With every sip, a glass of your favorite red wine will keep your heart, your immune system and your overall satisfaction at a healthy level, too.
The next time you crave a sweet spoonful of your favorite creamy treat, opt for yogurt instead. Yogurt provides the level of protein your body needs to remain healthy and active.
This light snack is also full of the active cultures necessary to keep your health in check. These cultures, also known as probiotics, boost your immune system by replacing bad bacteria with what is often referred to as “good bacteria” instead.
The benefits of the probiotics in yogurt are seemingly limitless, froma decreased risk of depression and stress to allergy and digestive issue relief. Plus, yogurt is incredibly versatile. Have it for breakfast with some nuts and berries, make a curried chicken salad with it for lunch, and enjoy some Tzatziki on your dinner.
You may have heard that fish oil pills are superior mood regulators, and the same can be said for a delicious salmon meal – both provide you with the essential omega-3 fatty acids your body can’t produce on its own.
Salmon doesn’t just work wonders for your body and overall health — it helps keep your mood in top shape, too. Studies show that salmon also increases the shininess and overall oomph of your hair. If a head full of luscious locks isn't enough to put a smile on your face, then the increased feelings of happiness certainly will.
4. Dark Chocolate
When life gets you down, just sit back, relax and eat a small serving of dark chocolate for a quick indulgence that can also significantly boost your mood. Eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate consistently for two weeks was found to reduce stress levels in people who rated their daily anxieties as significantly high.
There’s a reason they call chocolate the ultimate comfort food, after all. While the boost of magnesium may explain the alleviation of depression and irritability, it certainly doesn’t hurt that this treat just feels good to eat after a long day.
Whether you're in a hurry for breakfast or just want to enjoy a nutritious snack throughout the day, you can never go wrong with a banana.
Not only are bananas overflowing with vitamins and minerals, but they're also an incredible support to boost your mood. You may refer to bananas as the potassium-rich snack, but this healthy treat is also chock-full of tryptophan — a brain-boosting chemical that keeps your mind at ease.
Research studies show that this protein-rich snack can help prevent and ward off mild to moderate depression in individuals experiencing daily sadness and discontent. When you don't have the energy — or patience — to cook a hearty meal, just opt for a feel-good bowl full of freshly sliced bananas instead.
6. Green Tea
Tea may as well be called “happiness in a cup.” Green tea, in particular, is an excellent way to boost your mood. Why? Green tea is rich in an amino acid known as theanine, which is mostly responsible for boosting your brain's production of serotonin and dopamine — two primary mood-enhancing chemicals.
A research study in Japan found that individuals who drank four or more cups of green tea each day received significantly lower amounts of psychologic stress and upsets. And really – who who can stay angry or sad when they are sipping tea?
When they said the way to a person's heart is through their stomach, turns out they weren't lying. While getting a full seven hours of sleep and engaging in exercise are other factors that significantly impact your daily levels of happiness, it's important to eat the appropriate foods, too.
If you don’t quite have the energy to do much else besides eat, stick by the motto that good food equals a good mood. Chances are, all it takes is a bite full of a delicious and healthy treat to keep your body — and mind — a little more content throughout the day.
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Jennifer Landis is a healthy-live blogger, millennial mom, and freelance writer who enjoys yoga, red wine, and dark chocolate. She writes about mindfulness, parenting, and clean eating on her blog Mindfulness Mama. Follow her on Twitter @JenniferELandis.