Candy, donuts, soda, pizza. These treats spark instant joy. They’re treats for a reason.
They make us feel good at the moment—but, that’s mostly it. Just for the moment. After the initial buzz, that joy begins to tank.
And by tank, I mean crash.
But hey, sometimes a cookie at the end of the day still feels nice, despite the crash later on. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Treating yourself isn’t so bad when you already have balance. If we’re going to eat what feels good in the short-term, we should also make sure we’re also eating what feels good in the long-run.
Treat yourself to the food your body wants on occasion, and treat yourself to the good stuff your body needs every day. You deserve that cookie and that plate of broccoli.
To get started, pick up these feel-good foods listed below on your next grocery run and give your diet some balance.
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds maintain dopamine levels in your brain. This can prevent a mid-day mood dip. Stay balanced and sprinkle these babies on all your meals, whether it’s a salad, stir-fry or sandwich. Throughout the workday, I keep a small container in my bag or desk drawer to snack on.
Berries & Bananas
Cherries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are full of antioxidants that can increase the positive vibes throughout your body. They keep you alert and upbeat—essential for productivity. Another great snack while typing away.
Bananas have a similar effect. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but did you know a banana a day keeps the psychiatrist away? The riper the banana, the better.
Treat yourself to some artichokes, avocados, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, spinach, and red beets. These vegetables are potent sources of Vitamin B9, also known as folate. Folate is our friend because it cultivates happy hormones that flood your brain, such as dopamine and serotonin. YUM.
Eggs are packed with protein, vitamin D and choline. What the heck is choline? Let me tell ya—it’s kind of a big deal. Not only does it positively impact your liver’s ability to detox, but it also supports optimal brain function.
Eggs are an obvious breakfast go-to. They eliminate brain-fog and may keep you from reaching for that second (or third) cup of coffee later in the day.
Salmon is loaded with healthy fats. Especially those omega-3 fatty acids. Good news for us because our brains are fiends for fat. Healthy fats (excluding saturated and trans fats) are known to decrease symptoms of depression and positively impact mental health.
Add salmon to your plate for those good fats and good feels. Throw it on the grill, over a salad, or to top off your bagel in the morning.
Bonus Happiness Hack
Here’s the thing: To get the most out of each meal, all the nutrients in your food need to make it to your brain. Easy. Just chew and swallow, right? Not exactly.
The feel-good foods listed above contain special amino acids that trigger happy hormones and light up your brain. But when eaten in isolation, they’re not that strong as a force.
Pro tip: combine the feel-good foods listed above with carbs. Yes, you read that right. Carbs aren’t the enemy—they’re your ally.
Just imagine a baked potato—carrying all your nutrients onboard—floating down the bloodstream and through the gates to your brain.
Just because it’s not coated in icing, doesn’t mean it’s not a treat!
Have your cake, and your kale salad, too. You earned it.