5 Happy Foods That Aren't Happy Meals

Throughout the semester, it’s normal for our moods to alter. The emotions produced by midterms, finals, living with roommates, or just college in general, could leave us feeling not our best. While university counseling services and gyms have a high chance of making us feel better, eating certain foods is believed to help, as well. And no, I don’t mean going to McDonald’s and ordering a happy meal. The trick is to eat foods that contain tryptophan, the amino acid that can help the body produce more serotonin. You could also eat foods that help our bodies release endorphins, oxytocin, and dopamine when we eat them (in moderation, of course). Get excited, because chocolate makes the list! Here are a few happy foods that are healthier than a happy meal.

1. Bananas

Bananas contain vitamins A, C, K, and B6. What does this mean? Well, these vitamins are components of the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine (two out of the four “happy” chemicals). Bananas are probably the most convenient item on this list- they are easy to find, take on-the-go, and are already wrapped up, so just grab and peel!

2. Cheese

If you’re like me and sprinkle cheese on everything, you’re in luck! Cheese contains tryptophan. Mac and cheese might seem like the yummiest option, but here are some options that are a bit on the healthier side: cheese and crackers, cheese and grapes, cheese on veggies.

3. Chocolate

Simple. Eating chocolate leads to our bodies releasing endorphins and dopamine. With one serving of chocolate you’ll have 2/4 servings of “happy” neurotransmitters. So, next time you reach for the Oreos or Snickers, don’t feel too bad.

4. Eggs

Eggs are relatively not expensive, great for breakfast, or even a mid-day snack if you store them in a Ziploc bag. Egg yolks contain tryptophan, which helps create serotonin. They also provide vitamin D, which our body obtains less of in the Fall/Winter months.

5. Tofu

If you’re vegan, don’t worry. While salmon and poultry can help improve mood, tofu not only provides protein, but is also rich in tryptophan. Soy products, in general, are good sources of tryptophan.

 

If you think any of this is too good to be true, or would just like to learn more, here are a few sites I read that might help:

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/hacking-into-your-happy-c_b_6007660

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322416.php

https://exploringyourmind.com/7-foods-serotonin-dopamine/

https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/food-and-mood

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/foods-that-could-boost-your-serotonin

https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/gallery/top-15-foods-to-boost-your-mood