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10 Quick and Easy Mood-Boosting Foods

These days, new miracle diets pop up faster than you can say “meal replacement,” and health food propaganda comes at us from all angles (I’m looking at you, kale). With these ideas being so imposed on our consciousness, most of have at least some sense of how various foods might affect our bodies. Meanwhile, we give little thought to how various foods might affect our minds. But with the incredible number of stressors we deal with as students, we need all the help we can get. Pizza and Oreos might make us feel better temporarily and are fine in moderation, but there is a wealth of research out there on foods that are scientifically proven to improve your mood (hint: neither of those apply).

Since we college students are short on money and shorter on time, we need foods that are both mood-friendly and college-friendly. Try some of the ones below for a happier, healthier way to stress-eat!


Bananas, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, apricots, and oranges are great for improving your mood and so easy to incorporate into your life. Throw these in or on everything – cereal, yogurt, smoothies, pancakes, desserts – or just grab ‘em and go.

Yogurt with live cultures

This is less scary than it sounds. Many popular yogurt brands contain live cultures, including Activia, Chobani, Dannon, Gogurt, and Yoplait. Just look for the “Live and Active Cultures” seal on the packaging.


Opt for microwave or baked oatmeal in place of your typical cold cereal – studies have found that warm cereal keeps you fuller longer anyway! There are also tons of great recipes for baked goods with oats, or just whip up some oatmeal energy bites (you can find my favorite recipe here).

Nuts and seeds

Almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds are particularly good for raising your mood and are great on-the-go snacks.

Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce stress, improve mood, and encourage relaxation. Sweet. Tell us something we don’t know.

See? Elle knows what’s up.


Many of you probably eat a ton of eggs anyway – they’re fast, cheap, and packed with protein – but you might not know that they’re also great for stress reduction. Yet another reason to have breakfast for dinner.

Whole wheat

Make the easy switch to whole wheat pastas, breads, and tortillas. It’ll take some getting used to at first, but it’s totally worth it. P.S. Most research shows that carbs actually have a ton of benefits. If you’re doing or thinking about the whole low-carb thing, remember that it’s refined carbs that are bad, not natural ones!


Pick up a bag of it at the store and throw it in your smoothies, pasta, eggs, or sauté some with olive oil as a side.


As if you needed another reason to go to Chipotle every day.

Brown rice

See the description of Beans.

Turns out, face-sized burritos love you as much as you love them.

You can find more mood-boosting foods and tons of delicious recipes in the book Eat Yourself Happy by Gill Paul.

Image credit: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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