Food and Mood… The two are directly related?

Written by Contributor. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on October 21, 2020 with No Comments

Have you ever felt hangry (hungry + angry)? Food and mood have an effect on one another. Understand how they interact so you can make good diet choices and avoid emotional or impulse eating.

Maybe it’s no coincidence that food and mood are just a letter apart; the two are peas in a pod. Think about it: you stick to a giant dinner salad on a “winning it” kind of day, and reach for a tub of ice cream after a bad date or a frustrating day at work.

It’s a delicate relationship, and it can spin out of control if you’re not careful. Let’s look at the food-mood relationship, and how to set it right again when it goes wrong.

Even if you maintain a healthy diet, it’s normal to desire high calorie, unhealthy treats when stressed or depressed. This makes sense: your body wants to fuel up for fight-or-flight mode when times get tough, but it can mistake the stress of fighting traffic on the freeway for fighting predators on the savanna. It’s no wonder a whole pizza, a plate piled with fried chicken, or a chocolate milkshake can seem like a cure for a downer of a day–there’s a reason it’s called “comfort food.”

A cheat meal every now and then can be okay, but if you use food to battle the blues, you’re going to lose the war. Research shows that foods full of fat and sugar only increase the likelihood of depression and anxiety, and that means you’ll only want more sugary junk to fight the new bad mood. This cycle is a feedback loop.

If the consumption of fats and sugar goes on too long, your body will adapt to it, and think it’s normal. Then, when you try to start eating right, you could throw off your system and further increase anxiety and depression, trapping you in a cycle of bad eating to try to maintain happiness. It’s a terrible place to be.

There’s a way avoid the downward spiral; you’re not trapped. In the same way that unhealthy comfort food can keep you feeling low, healthy food can boost you up. In one study, the happiness that came from eating eight portions of fruits and vegetables a day was equal to the joy experienced by an unemployed person finding a job.

When you’re happier, you’re more likely to crave healthy foods. In one study, participants watching a happy movie opted for grapes, while those watching a sad movie reached for the popcorn. It’s easier to stay healthy when you stay happy. And don’t forget, eating healthier helps you stay happier.

The best part?  There are long term mental health effects to eating well. Research has shown that healthy choices, like the Mediterranean diet, full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins, can help keep depression at bay,5 stabilizing mood and keeping you out of the danger zone where it feels like only a cupcake will save the day.

Source: American Heart Association

There are some specific foods to keep an eye on to boost your mood:

1.  Fruits and Vegetables

An apple a day keeps the doctor away–and maybe the psychiatrist, too. As noted, fruits and veg have been linked to higher levels of happiness.

2.  Omega-3 Fatty Acids

This is the good stuff, found in foods like fish and nut oils. Low Omega-3 fatty acids have been correlated to depression and impulsivity. Getting plenty of this in your diet keeps your levels high, that’s a good thing.

3.  Chocolate

As a special treat, chocolate may have properties that improve mood and even reduce tension. But remember, the key is to choose real chocolate (dark is best), and in moderation.

Stock up on convenient and healthy snacks, like bananas or individual bags of nuts or carrots. Keep them within easy reach at home, work and in the car. Now, the next time a craving or bad mood hits, you can reach for some mood-boosting goodness.

Skillet Chicken Potpie Recipe

by Andrea Kirkland M.S., RD

A store-bought pie crust, frozen veggies and precooked chicken simplify the prep for this easy potpie. This healthy dinner recipe is comfort food at its best.


• 1½ cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided

• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

•   1 tablespoon olive oil

•   1 (8 ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms

•   1 cup chopped onion

•   6 cloves garlic, minced

•   1½ cups frozen carrots and peas (7 oz.)

•   1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage

•   1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, plus sprigs for garnish

•   ½ teaspoon salt

•   ½ teaspoon ground pepper

•   1 pound shredded cooked chicken (about 3 cups; see Tip)

•   1 (7 to 8 ounce) prepared pie crust, thawed if frozen

•   1 egg white, lightly beaten


•  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

•  Whisk 1 1/4 cups broth and flour in a medium bowl; set aside.

• Heat oil in a 10-inch cast-iron or oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; cook until browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and garlic; cook until tender, 4 to 6 minutes.

• Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup broth, scraping up any browned bits. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, peas and carrots, sage, thyme, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in chicken.

• Lay pie crust over the chicken mixture, folding the edges over as needed. Cut four 4-inch slits in the crust to allow steam to escape. Brush with egg white.

• Bake until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with thyme sprigs, if desired.


To poach chicken: Place 4 small boneless, skinless chicken thighs or 2 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (12 oz. total) in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and cook until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 165 degrees F, 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a plate and shred into small pieces. Reserve broth for use in another recipe–it will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Serving Size: 1/6 potpie

Equipment: 10-inch nonstick oven-safe skillet

Nutrition Facts Per Serving: 336 calories; protein 29.3g 59% DV; carbohydrates 25.6g 8% DV; exchange other carbs 1.5; dietary fiber 2.8g 11% DV; sugars 2.9g; fat 12.8g 20% DV; saturated fat 3.5g 17% DV; cholesterol 64.3mg 21% DV; vitamin a iu 3368.2IU 67% DV; vitamin c 7.5mg 12% DV; folate 67.7mcg 17% DV; calcium 50mg 5% DV; iron 2.5mg 14% DV; magnesium 42mg 15% DV; potassium 527.8mg 15% DV; sodium 426mg 17% DV. 

Source: Diabetic Living

Instant Cream of Carrot Soup

by Julia Levy

This luscious and healthy cream of carrot soup comes together with just 15 minutes of active time, thanks to the Instant Pot (or any other pressure cooker). For an even easier dish, use an immersion blender to puree the soup–you’ll only have the Instant Pot insert to clean after cooking. Serve this soup as a starter for a holiday meal or with crusty bread and a salad for dinner any night.


• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 1½ cups sliced sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)

• 4 cups unsalted chicken broth or vegetable broth

• 2 pounds carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 3 cups)

• 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 3/4 cups)

• 3 cloves garlic, smashed

• ½ cup whole milk

• 1/3 cup heavy cream

• 1 teaspoon salt

• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper


• Select Sauté setting on a programmable multicooker (such as Instant Pot). (Times, instructions and settings may vary according to cooker brand or model.) Select High temperature setting; add oil to the cooker and let it heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned and softened, about 8 minutes. Add broth, carrots, potato and garlic; stir to combine. Press Cancel.

• Cover the cooker and lock the lid in place. Turn the steam release handle to Sealing position. Select Manual/Pressure Cook setting. Select High pressure for 15 minutes. (It will take 10 to 15 minutes for the cooker to come up to pressure before cooking begins.)

• Carefully turn the steam release handle to Venting position, and let the steam fully escape (the float valve will drop; this will take 5 to 10 minutes). Remove the lid from the cooker. Stir in milk, cream, salt and pepper. Turn off the cooker.

• Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, or puree the soup in a blender, in batches if necessary. If using a traditional blender, secure the lid on the blender and remove the center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over the opening. Process until smooth, about 3 minutes. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.)

Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups

Nutrition Facts Per Serving:  178 calories; protein 4.6g 9% DV; carbohydrates 23.6g 8% DV; exchange other carbs 1.5; dietary fiber 4.2g 17% DV; sugars 8.1g; fat 7.9g 12% DV; saturated fat 3.1g 16% DV; cholesterol 12.7mg 4% DV; vitamin a iu 19115.9IU 382% DV; vitamin c 11.3mg 19% DV; folate 33.3mcg 8% DV; calcium 74.7mg 8% DV; iron 0.8mg 5% DV; magnesium 29mg 10% DV; potassium 691.8mg 19% DV; sodium 444mg 18% DV; thiamin 0.1mg 13% DV.

Source: Eatingwell

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