In today’s fast-paced, high-pressure world, it is easy to let your emotions get the best of you. Once in a bad mood, it can be downright difficult to snap out of it. Everyone has his or her go-to default for stress management. For some, it involves exercise, for others it can as simple as picking up the phone and calling a friend. We are emotional beings, and experiencing our feelings to the fullest is part of what defines our humanity. Food is a powerful and under-utilized tool when addressing mental and physical imbalances in the body, which can help balance your overall moods.

I invite you to handle your mood through your nutrition, instead of other more conventional (and sometimes detrimental) means of blowing off steam. There are a myriad of foods that can stimulate your central nervous system while satisfying your palate. These foods are nutritiously dense foods that can provide a variety of benefits to your body, including stabilizing your blood sugar and making you feel happier in the process. Here are a few of the most effective mood-enhancing foods that top my list:

1. Foods rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids: More studies are amounting that show a link between consuming omega-3 essential fats and fighting depression. One of my favorite sources, pictured above, are chia seeds, which you can throw into the Rainforest Acai shake, the way I do. I often make it for my clients as well. Other good sources of these essential fats are walnuts and flaxseeds.

2. Pistachios: Nuts have a high level of polyunsaturated fats, vitamins, and antioxidants that make them an ideal mood-enhancing snack. Pistachios, aside from being extremely versatile and absolutely delectable, naturally lower your blood pressure immediately calming you down. Plating a cup of pistachios should be plenty to curb your mood and keep you positive.

3. Avocado: Along with increasing nutrient absorption, avocado contains a remarkably high amount of healthy saturated fat. Individuals with a low amount of healthy fat in his or her diet will experience fatigue, anxiety and depression. The reason being that your brain and connective tissues are made mostly from fats. By giving your body a high level of nutritious fats, you are literally feeding your brain (which is about 60% fat) and stimulating healthy functioning. I recommend eating a half avocado at a time either plain or dressing it up with some cayenne and eating it with some sliced tomatoes.

4. Quinoa: Eating healthy complex carbs, such as quinoa, and boosting mood are linked through the brain chemical, serotonin. Try my Curry-Turmeric Quinoa recipe, as well as my millet recipes in The Beauty Detox Solution. I just made the Greek-Inspired Millet Salad recipe for the first time in a while, and it was sooo good! So don’t shun all carbs — just stick to the good Beauty Detox grains, and cut out refined carbs. One of my favorite dishes to make is quinoa stuffed peppers, the perfect meal at any time.

 

5. Wine: Having one occasional glass of red wine will promote relaxation by inhibiting the formation of minor blood clots through a process called vasodilation (the process of increasing the blood flow through the body). Improved circulation will automatically raise your energy level in the short term while allowing you to mentally unwind.

6. Rolled Oats: Folic Acid and B vitamins are the two superstar ingredients in oats that will restore and maintain your mood. My Raw Rolled Oat cereal is a fantastic mood enhancer because it is easy to make, incorporates avocado, and is packed with fiber.

Lastly, remember the expression “you are what you eat.” It’s no coincidence that when you eat a greasy, sugary meal low in nutritional value, you feel sluggish and tired. Responsible eating and healthy nutrition are the first steps to a happier, more vibrant you!

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New York Times Bestseller and Nutritionist