Happy Pills or Happy Food? Can certain foods help your mood as much as anti-depressants can?

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Sooo….it’s the end of April, and I don’t know about you guys, but this is the time of year when I feel…blaahhh. I’m typically a very motivated, quick-paced, impulsive, upbeat person…but right now? Not so much. Living just outside of Vancouver, BC, I am currently experiencing some mythical sunshine (thank the Weather Gods), but ordinarily, I have been rained on for about 4 months straight by now.

Well, one can only take so much of this dark, wet, deflating weather before we start to feel…well, depressed. So, do we run off to our GP for a prescription for an anti-depressant, or do we take a good hard look at what we’re putting in our bodies and tune it in an attempt to lift ourselves out of our seasonal funk, sans meds? I don’t know about you, but I’m much more inclined to go for option number 2.

For those of you thinking that I’m talking about Ben & Jerry’s and Krispy Kreme doughnuts, I’m not. (I will NEVER endorse those things as a replacement for real food!) I’m thinking about all of the foods that are available to us that contain naturally high levels of the good stuff. That’s right– we’re talking about foods that contain high levels of folate, iodine, selenium, and vitamin D (low levels of these nutrients are known to trigger depression). There are also foods that that naturally possess seretonin-producing effects when eaten.

Here is a list of plant-based foods that are all well-known for being natural mood lifters:


1- Beets (250 grams has 30% of your daily folate intake)

2- Sea vegetables (super duper high in iodine)

3- Mushrooms (high in selenium and a natural source of vitamin D!)

4- Dark, leafy greens (boosts seretonin production, and high in EVERYTHING wonderful)

Some foods to avoid if you’re feeling depressed are caffeine, processed foods, sugar, and alcohol. All of these foods deplete your body’s mineral sources and contribute to increased feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. (Which is so weird, because for about 10 minutes while my mouth is full of cookie and wine, I feel AMAZING!) But then, like 5 minutes later, I don’t anymore.

Diet has been shown to be SO entwined with our moods, thoughts, feelings, outlook, self-esteem, etc. So, you can fork over the money for prescription anti-depressants and hope they work for you quickly (most take weeks to begin to take effect), or you can choose to feel better almost immediately and for a fraction of the cost by consuming good food. Good food also has no side-effects, aside from better bowel movements, shiny hair, and clear skin.

Now, I’m not suggesting that you stop taking the anti-depressants that you have been on for years and give this a shot. I’m not a medical professional in any way, shape, or form. Please talk to your doctor first. I’m just suggesting that if you notice you are suffering from the weather blues (commonly called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD), you may want to try hitting the grocery store before your doctor’s office. It can’t hurt!

Wrapping up: next time you feel as if you could benefit from a little pick-me-up, forgo the double espresso and the margarita, and head to the produce aisle instead. You can also get more ideas about your health and wellness from www.facebook.com/loveryourgut.ca. Happy Friday!

5 replies
  1. Marlene
    Marlene says:

    this is something that intruiges me so, so much. Having been on antidepressants for over 1/2 my life, I would love to find a natural alternative……but I’m so chicken to go off my med’s and try. 🙁

    • Jennifer Browne
      Jennifer Browne says:

      Why not try and develop a plan with your doctor or naturopath? You may be able to slowly cut down…and this is definitely the season to begin it…you will get alot of vitamin D from the sun in the next few months…??


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