How Food Can Affect Your Mood

Written by Tylene Welch

Did you know that certain foods can boost your mood and some can spoil your whole day? You might be consuming too many sugary foods, experiencing an allergy or sensitivity, or maybe even a deficiency in some beneficial nutrients.

Personally, I was feeling down and anxious too often not to notice, so I gave Whole30 a try. At first, I felt irritable and excessively tired, but after the first few painful days, I noticed I was feeling happier, healthier, and lighter than I had in a long time. After diving into some research, Iíve determined that the refined carbs and highly processed foods I consumed on a daily basis were having a negative effect on my mood.

In this article, Iím breaking down how food can affect your sleep, your mood and your brain. But I wonít leave you hanging! Iíve got suggestions for what to swap out the bad foods with and how to clean up your food habits one simple step at a time. Letís jump in.

Foodís Effect on the Brain

The food you eat not only has an impact on your waistline, it affects your brain and your mood every day. You might think an afternoon cup of coffee will provide the perk you need to get through the day, or that a chocolate bar will curb your sweet tooth just enough for the evening ó but the downsides might not be worth the indulgence. Sure, a treat every now and then wonít hurt, but regular habits can have a major impact on your daily happiness.

Here are some of the foods that could negatively affect your mood:

  • Sugary drinks may increase your risk of dementia among other negative effects to the brain.
  • Refined carbs like sugars and highly processed grains can impair memory.
  • Foods high in trans fats found in shortening, margarine, frosting, snack foods, ready-made cakes and prepackaged cookies can impair memory, so itís best to cut them out.
  • Highly processed foods like chips, sweets, instant noodles, microwave popcorn, sauces/condiments, and ready-made meals can be high in sugar, added fats, and salt, contributing to impaired memory and learning.
  • Aspartame is commonly found in sugar-free products as and artificial sweetener, but donít be fooled by the sugar-free label ó this additive is linked to behavioral and cognitive problems.
  • Alcohol is obviously not healthy in excessive amounts; specifically, it can lead to memory loss, behavioral changes, and sleep disruption.

Then there are foods that support a good mood! The items listed above can be harmless in minimal amounts, but itís best to swap out for one of these options whenever possible:

  • Spinach and the magnesium it contains can help prevent anxiety and depression; itís also easy to throw into smoothies, eggs, salads, pastas or on sandwiches.
  • Oats are great for maintaining your energy levels because of their low GI (glycemic index), which slowly releases energy to your body. Try these oatmeal hacks to keep things interesting.
  • Chia seeds not only contain protein and fiber, theyíre also a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids which are considered a brain food for their mood boosting benefits. Other great sources of omega-3s include Brussels sprouts, hemp seeds, walnuts†and flaxseeds.

How Caffeine Affects Your Mood

When you find yourself exhausted throughout the day, but youíre tossing and turning at night, caffeine could be the culprit. But how does that affect your mood? Anyone knows that a good nightís sleep is essential for a productive day. But poor sleep can cause serious mood changes like irritability and stress; chronic insomnia can even lead to mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

Depending on your sensitivity to caffeine, the source of the product, and how late you had your last cup of coffee ó you could experience some serious side-effects. You might even experience nervousness, upset stomach, heart palpitations and anxiety on top of sleeplessness from the effects of caffeine.

However, coffee can have some healthy side-effects as well. Coffee contains antioxidants, minerals and vitamins; it can even prevent some conditions, like diabetes, when drank in moderation. So if youíre going to drink coffee, make sure to choose high-quality products, drink slowly, and try not to drink too much or too late in the day so the caffeine doesnít affect your sleep and your mood.

How to Clean Up Your Diet and Improve Your Mood

Eating better to feeling better is pretty simple, you just have to make small changes. If you really want to clean up your diet and live a happier, healthier life, follow these simple tips:

  • Try an elimination diet to see if any food groups are causing negative side effects
  • Add more fruits and vegetables to your diet.
  • Try to avoid the middle aisles in grocery stores; predominantly shop the produce, whole foods, and frozen sections (no processed foods).
  • Read labels carefully (and watch out for unexpected sources of caffeine and sugar).
  • Change your portion sizes and eat smaller meals more often.
  • Make small changes all the time for lasting impact.

The food you eat can have a major effect on your mood, from restlessness and sleepless nights to debilitating anxiety and depression. Make sure to have a stock of healthy foods whenever possible so youíre not tempted by the sugary drinks and treats that negatively impact your happiness. Snack healthy and have a great day!

Tylene is a freelance writer, editor, photographer, gardener, wife, auntie and pet-mom in Idaho. She cares†a whole awful lot about people, plants, animals, food and the planet. Reach out to her on Twitter @tylenewelch


Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thank you for posting

William C
William C8 months ago

Thank you.

Christine S
Christine Stewart8 months ago


Mark T
Mark T8 months ago


Carole R
Carole R8 months ago

Very true.

Ann B
Ann B8 months ago

i guess i will have dementia because i am not eating chia seeds

Veronica B
Veronica B8 months ago

Good advice.Thanks

Angela AWAY K
Angela K8 months ago


Lisa M
Lisa M8 months ago


Lisa M
Lisa M8 months ago