Foods to Boost Your Pandemic Mood

July 11, 2022

We’re well into the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and chances are you’re tired, worn out, wondering if there’s an end in sight. You’re not alone. Estimates from the American Psychological Association indicate that rates of anxiety and depression are up by approximately 25 percent since the pandemic began. That’s not surprising, considering the upheaval that COVID-19 has created in our lives.

Many people are still working from home and teaching their kids remotely. Others are still looking for work and wondering how they’re going to make ends meet. Still others are concerned for their own health and the health of their loved ones. Whatever the reason, some simple changes to your meal plan can help boost your mood as you continue to navigate the pandemic. Keep in mind that these foods aren’t a replacement for medications or therapy, but are an easy way to enhance their effects. Taking control of your health is a great way to boost confidence and feel better every day. With that in mind, fill your plate with the following foods for a quick boost to your happiness and well-being.

 1. Salmon

Because it’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is an ideal choice for supporting a healthy brain, which in turn helps boost your mood. Omega-3s are also linked to a lower risk of depression, so it makes sense to include them in your pandemic meal plan. Salmon is a delicious choice, but albacore tuna, mackerel, herring and lake trout are other tasty options.

2. Fermented Foods

Fermented foods are linked to better gut health. Because the state of your gut plays a big role in your mental health, adding them to your diet is a simple solution for boosting mood as the pandemic continues. That’s because your gut controls your levels of serotonin, which is a hormone that controls your emotions. Sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha are ideal choices that are easy to find and easy to incorporate into your meal plan. If you’re not a fan of these items, add yogurt to your meal plan. Greek yogurt is an ideal source of probiotics. Just be sure you choose the plain version to control sugar intake.

3. Bananas

Bananas are inexpensive and easy to find and there are several reasons why they should be part of your pandemic meal plan. This fruit is rich in vitamin B6, which helps create dopamine and serotonin in your brain. Both are chemicals that play a role in your mood and higher levels help combat anxiety and depression. Bananas also contain fiber, which helps control your blood sugar. Low blood sugar contributes to irritability and poor mood, but adding a banana to your day can help.

4. Oats

When you’re looking for a cheap and tasty way to feel better, look no further than oats. Considered a whole grain, oats are one of the best ways to regulate blood sugar, which, as mentioned above, helps control your mood. Oats are also a good source of iron, which can help ward off a variety of mood disorders. Enjoy oats for breakfast or add them to meatloaf, smoothies or breakfast bars. Be sure to choose steel cut oats to get the most benefit.

5. Coffee

If you look forward to your morning cup of coffee, there’s good news when it comes to your mood. The caffeine it contains increases alertness and attention, which can give you a more positive outlook. Other compounds in coffee may help increase chemicals in the brain that boost your mood and help control mood swings and depression. Be sure to keep caffeine intake under control as too much can interfere with healthy sleep and watch for coffee drinks that are high in sugar and cream, which can negate the health benefits. If you don’t drink coffee, unsweetened black tea is a healthy alternative.

6. Beans

Another food that’s inexpensive and easy to find, beans are ideal for increasing your mood. They are full of B vitamins, which play a role in boosting the brain chemicals that help you feel happy and calm. These B vitamins are also responsible for communication among the nerve cells in your brain. Optimizing this communication pattern has been linked to more mood control and lower rates of depression.

7. Dark Chocolate

First, the sugar in chocolate gives you a quick burst of brain fuel and can easily make you feel better. Chocolate is also a rich source of flavonoids, which increase the blood flow to your brain, and is linked to better mood regulation. Because chocolate has a pleasing aroma and flavor, simply enjoying it can also make you feel happier and more content. Many kinds of chocolate contain added sugars and fats, so look for a dark chocolate version that contains at least 70 percent cocoa to reap the benefits without wrecking your diet.

Improving your diet is a powerful way to control your health in many ways. What you eat certainly plays a big role in your weight and overall health, but it also impacts your mood and mental wellness. As the pandemic continues, and even when it’s over, paying attention to the way you fuel your brain and body is vital for reducing the risk of mood disorders. In general, a balanced meal plan that focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables is your goal. A healthy mix of whole grains and lean protein rounds out your plate.

For more information about nutrition for good health, contact Eliza Martinez at

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