Can certain foods really boost your mood or is it all just a myth? After reading a million different health articles from BBC Good Food to Good Housekeeping, I wanted to try them for myself.

Since the end of December I have been feeling flat, sluggish and completely drained.

At first, I thought it was because I was “winding down” towards the end of the year just like everyone else.

But as January came around, I was hoping for a New Year kick to pump some life back into me, yet it never came.

After making sure I was getting enough sleep and spending as much time outdoors as I could, I tried various recommended winter vitamins due to the lack of sunlight and yet still nothing.

When I recently read there was an Arctic blast of cold air approaching the UK, I knew I needed to do something to get me through the very mundane end of January.

So this is when I thought it could be my diet, especially after the lead-up to Christmas when the house is stocked with chocolate tubs, cheese and all the festive crisp varieties.

Day-to-day, I try my best to always have balance and eat a bit of everything (which my wise nan once told me as a retired nurse) but it was clear I wasn’t eating the right foods for this time of year.

Basingstoke Gazette: I think fruit is the answer for if you're looking for a natural energy boostI think fruit is the answer for if you're looking for a natural energy boost (Image: Newsquest)

What foods increase your mood?

In the last two weeks, I have been eating a lot of oranges, dark chocolate (ew), garlic, berries and bananas, as recommended by food and flavour expert, Phil Bianchi, from The Gift Of Oil – but how do I feel now?


Bianchi said: “Oranges are full of water keeping you extra hydrated and awake throughout the day.

“But oranges also contain a high level of electrolytes which, as we all know, are great for giving a big boost of energy and improving your mood.”

I’ve been eating a mix of tiny easy peelers to big oranges once or twice a day for around two weeks.

Dark chocolate

Bianchi went on to say: “As well as chocolate's known sugar levels, that help to boost a moment of happiness, chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain supporting brain health and mood regulation.

Chocolate's natural texture and smell also promotes good moods in the human body.”

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I cannot stand dark chocolate but after Christmas, I knew I needed to give my love for milk chocolate a break, after all it’s well-known dark chocolate is better for us.

So instead of giving away leftover dark Lindt from assortment boxes I bought during the festive period, I decided to hold my breath and eat them.

However, I’m not sure what good this did as I think I’ve only eaten around three chocolates (my poor taste buds).


“One of the most loved ingredients, garlic produces a neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which helps reduce stress,” comments Bianchi.

“Not only that, but garlic can also relax the body’s blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. Garlic is the easiest ingredient to include in any recipe or try a garlic infused olive oil.”

Basingstoke Gazette: Do you love or hate garlic?Do you love or hate garlic? (Image: Newsquest)

I’m a garlic lover at heart anyway, but I have been putting two or three heaped teaspoons of chopped garlic (I can’t resist the “lazy jar” kind), into pasta, cooking sauces and roasted veg dishes instead of just one spoonful.


Bianchi adds: “A higher intake of fruit is linked to lower levels of depression.

“Berries in particular play a key role in reducing stress as they are filled with antioxidants.

“While all berries might not be in season, frozen berries are just as good, or go for some in season cranberries and elderberries. Delicious.”

I usually eat a bowl of berries, yoghurt and granola every morning but instead of just having one kind of berry, I’ve been making sure to mix strawberries, blueberries and raspberries together.

I’ve also been eating multiple bowls a day, for example, choosing this kind of snack again at around 3pm for a little sugar fix instead of a biscuit.


When scrolling through the internet for mood-boosting foods, bananas were also highly recommended.

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BBC Good Food said: “A great source of vitamin B6, which is important for making feel-good brain chemicals including dopamine and serotonin, bananas are also a good source of natural sugars combined with fibre which helps stabilise energy levels.

“Some of the fibre they provide is in the form of resistant starch, a type favoured by our beneficial gut bacteria.”

I’ve been eating one a day for the last two weeks by adding it to my granola bowls.

Recommended reading:

Why these mood-boosting foods have saved me this January

I can’t quite believe I’m admitting it but these mood-boosting foods have worked - and saved me.

Without realising, I had been telling family and friends how happy I had been feeling and stopped moaning about my lack of energy every morning from the minute I opened my eyes.

I’ve been able to tick things off my never-ending household to-do list before and after work without feeling a horrid weight on my shoulders and wondering when the feeling will end.

Some may argue it could be a placebo effect but I had genuinely forgotten I was eating more oranges, berries and garlic than ever before.

Even better, these foods are easy to get hold of and to eat during busy days (plus they don’t cost the earth).