Good food brings happiness

Winter is here. All of a sudden, we left the picturesque beauty of fall with its rainbow of colours and we were sucked into a grey vortex of snow and darkness.

The melting snow and ensuing muckiness is even worse, spoiling any chance of a new, scenic beauty. We need something to cheer us. Can food do that?

I don’t want to encourage everyone to binge on tubs of Haagen-Das in an effort to improve their mood. I know that for those who are affected by winter depression, there is light therapy to counteract the lack of sunlight, and possible supplements or other therapies to help offset the change in balance some people feel.

If we are just feeling the blues, though, can food help us get out of our funk? Is there a healthy way to stay ahead of the blahs?

There are studies being done on all kinds of foods all the time, not to mention the natural and chemical supplements you can ingest. In an entirely anecdotal and entertaining way, here is a smattering of those possible “remedies” you can try if you like.

If nothing else, the background information might make for interesting dinner conversation, and that could help you forget about the weather and the season.


  • Spinach – Popeye knew what he was doing; the folic acid in spinach reduces fatigue. When we are less tired we tend to be happier, don’t we?
  • Quinoa – It is said quinoa has every amino acid your body needs, hence the term superfood. Qs must be good; quinoa has quercitin – a flavonoid that is an anti-depressant.
  • Oysters – this zinc-rich seafood has been proven to ward off anxiety, and it has long been on the list of aphrodisiac foods. (Perhaps for the best effect, these should be eaten at the end of the day.)
  • Dark chocolate – (like we need another reason to consume this stuff) Anti-oxidants in dark chocolate help our general well-being. It also reduces cortisol, a stress hormone. Don’t worry, eat chocolate.
  • Salmon (Are you vegetarian? Substitute walnuts). Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps improve our mood and fight depression. It will also make your hair shiny, in case you needed more convincing. Walnuts have alpha-linolenic acid, another Omega-3.
  • Turmeric – Not really a food, this spice is regarded as almost a cure-all. One of its key components, curcumin, is said to reduce inflammation and improve your mood. Its bright colour can liven up any dish.
  • Green tea – Studies have shown that people who consume five cups of green tea per day show less mental stress. (This could be just because they had time to stop and drink so much tea.) Coffee helps people feel better too – research shows regular coffee drinkers are 15 per net less likely to be depressed, as caffeine boosts dopamine and serotonin, neurotransmitters that make you feel happier.
  • Apples (and oranges) – It’s true; an apple a day really will keep the doctor away. Fruits and vegetables in general tend to calm us. Their natural sugars give us energy and increase our levels of happiness. Eat a rainbow of bright fruits and veggies and you will be happy.
  • Mushrooms – The high content of vitamin D in mushrooms helps decrease our chance of depression. It is said vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. Only Mother Nature could provide such sunny richness from something that grows in the dark.
  • Bananas – Not only do they give you energy from their potassium and vitamin B, they have tryptophan, which helps regulate our moods. And, they are a lovely sunny colour. As a bonus, have some probiotic yogurt with your banana in the morning and you’ll seal the deal. Healthy gut bacteria from the live culture in the yogurt makes for a happy body and a happy brain, according to numerous studies.

You probably feel a bit overwhelmed after having read all that information, and that could make you stressed, which is the opposite of happy. But if you just think of enjoying the food, and how that will make you happier, then you’ll start to feel better.

Pick foods from the list above and you’ll feel especially better. As your body benefits from the food’s nutrients, you might even feel proud, having made an effort to improve your state of mind. I don’t know about you, but with all those good vibes cursing through my veins I can’t help but feel happier. I can almost forget about the grey skies.

If the food doesn’t get you all the way to happy, I’ll leave you with a famous quote from Buddha. Invite a few friends over – or take food to a potluck – and soak in the company along with the meal.

 “Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

The life of winter might not be shortened by a lit candle, but at least the shared happiness from good food and company can keep us warm.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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