5 Foods to Eat for Happiness

Board Certified Functional Nutritionist By Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Board Certified Functional Nutritionist
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC.

You pulled the ribbon on Pandora's Box. You processed those previously hidden emotions.

You journaled, wrote letters to yourself, and meditated (and still do). Yoga is a daily practice and your intuitive healer (i.e. psychic) says your life will be filled with abundance and love.

But... you don't feel happy?

If you've worked on the emotional and spiritual voids in your life and still feel blue, it's possible there's a neurotransmitter imbalance. This frequently happens during and after periods of chronic stress.

But before you down a Prozac and Wellbutrin cocktail, try these five foods to help re-activate the serotonin and dopamine pathways again and bring joy and pleasure back into your life:

1. Rainbow Trout

This is a concentrated source of omega 3 fats, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA enables membrane fluidity in the brain which is essential for optimal neurotransmitter function, and amplifies happiness and pleasure. Four ounces of rainbow trout contains 1400mg of omega 3 fats, 200mg more than wild salmon.

Eat in now: cured rainbow trout tossed into a kale salad with avocado and tomatoes, pan-seared rainbow trout with sea salt and lemon zest served with organic greens and French dressing.

2. Collard Greens

Collard greens are a rich source of Vitamin C and magnesium, which are both required to convert the amino acids, tryptophan and tyrosine, to serotonin and dopamine respectively.

Eat in now: use collard greens as a wrap and fill it with avocado, sweet potato, trout and organic greens. Sauté collard greens with olive oil, pine nuts and sun-dried tomatoes.

3. Spaghetti Squash

This contains carotenoids, which help protect the neurotransmitter receptor cells from free radical damage so they continue to play the happy neurotransmitter message.

Eat in now: Moroccan spiced Spaghetti Squash; Spaghetti Squash tossed in coconut oil with cilantro, fresh ginger and pine nuts.

4. Organic Eggs

These are rich in choline, which forms part of every cell membrane, including the neurotransmitter receptor cells. Improved cellular integrity enhances the happiness and pleasure signal.

Eat in now: baked eggs with tomato, basil and avocado; scrambled eggs with toasted nori over arugula.

5. Blue Potatoes. 

These contain anthocyanins, the same phytonutrient in blueberries, which helps activate the happy message in the brain. The carbohydrates in the blue potatoes also enable tryptophan to be converted to serotonin to induce a happy state of being.

Eat in now: blue potato salad with chives, red onion and olive oil; roast vegetable salad with blue potatoes.

If you're still feeling blue after adding these foods into your diet, take 1000mg of EPA/DHA; 100mg of 5-HTP twice per day and a B-complex (50mg).

If that still doesn't work, seek out an experienced functional medicine practitioner who can conduct a comprehensive analysis to identify potential triggers that may be disrupting the brain chemistry and making you feel less happy than desired.

Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and founder of Food Coach NYC....
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Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James, M.S., CNS, CDN
Dana James is a Columbia University–educated nutritional therapist and...
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