Start Your Day Off Right: Match Your Breakfast to Your Mood


Strong? Happy? Confident? Alert? Give yourself a head start by matching your breakfast to your mood du jour.

It’s no secret that certain foods have the ability to alter your mood. According to a study in the British Journal of Health and Psychology, participants reported a better mood on the days they ate seven to eight fruits and vegetables than when they didn’t eat any.

“We all know intuitively that when you eat better, you feel better, but in addition to that, we’re now learning that food can really impact your emotional and mental well-being,” says Margie Saidel, RD, vice president of nutrition and sustainability for Chartwells K12 in New York, which recently created a Mood Boost program for 4,500 schools nationwide to highlight the food-mood connection. “The bioactive compounds in fruits and vegetables in particular are a protective compound for us, and are literally helping to adjust our brain chemistry.”

Depending on what you have in store for the day — an important interview, a date, a busy day at work — choose from this rainbow of breakfast foods to set the right tone.

If you want to feel alert…

…try spinach or raspberries.

“Dark green vegetables, such as spinach, contain folate which can boost concentration,” explains Saidel. Add some to an omelet to boost your brain power, or try this spinach quiche. Dark red fruits and vegetables are also proven brain-boosters: Add some raspberries to your cereal for sustained energy release and increased blood flow to your brain.

If you want to feel calm…

… try strawberries.

Adding red berries to your morning bowl of oatmeal, or including them in a smoothie, gives you a dose of vitamin C. The vitamin is important, because it protects your brain against oxidation which may prevent and reduce anxiety, says Saidel.

If you want to feel confident…

… try avocados.

“This one is more appearance-based, because who doesn’t feel confident when you look good, right?” says Saidel. Chalk it up to the magnesium — which gives you smooth skin and shiny hair — and vitamin E, which reduces damage from skin oxidation. Add some to your bagel and cream cheese, or try this avocado breakfast bowl.

If you want to feel happy…

… try tomatoes.

Adding lycopene-rich tomatoes to your breakfast meal helps fight inflammation that’s associated with depression, says Saidel. One study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, in fact, found that those who ate tomatoes daily had a 52 percent reduced risk of depression. This eggs with tomatoes dish will start your day on a good note.

If you want to feel smart…

… try pumpkin or red pepper.

Pumpkin and squash contain b-Carotene which protects the brain and can boost attention and memory (and, according to us, there’s nothing like pumpkin bread fresh from the oven!) Not in season? Put red pepper into these tasty muffin cups instead.

If you want to feel strong…

… try beets or celery.

Beets contain nitrates, “which increase blood flow to the muscles,” explains Saidel (add some vitamin D-filled yogurt, milk or mushrooms to boost your bones). Beets and berries pair up well for tasty — and healthy — smoothies, or try these whole-wheat blueberry and beet muffins. Not a fan of beets? This this unique veggie-filled breakfast egg salad with celery instead.

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