And what to avoid
Making time for breakfast is only the first step. Your breakfast of choice can definitely affect your mood and productivity levels, so eating a well-balanced breakfast that can make you happy will provide greater health benefits for the day ahead. There are also some foods that can make you tired, like those high in processed ingredients and sugar, as well as foods that can make you irritable, less productive, and hormonally imbalanced. Before grabbing a doughnut, or even skipping breakfast altogether, plan accordingly so that you can have a breakfast that includes healthy complex carbs, fats, and protein. A healthy breakfast will brighten your mood and get your day started on a high note.
Lauren Blake, registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, shared her insights into the scientific explanations behind eating a breakfast that will make you feel good, as well as her favorite, energizing, and healthy breakfast recipes that are high in protein, fats, fiber, and other key nutrients to provide greater happiness and steady mood levels. With these breakfasts, you're guaranteed a breakfast that boosts energy and productivity to make you feel accomplished and confident each day.
"Research suggests that certain foods affect mood. Dietary changes can trigger chemical and physiological changes within the brain that alter our behavior and emotions. Most people understand the link between what they eat and their physical health, but the link between what you eat and your mood, your energy, how you sleep, and how well you think can be much more immediate," Blake said.
So, what should someone eat for immediate, happy-boosting benefits?
Eating healthy, complex carbohydrates in the morning can provide quick energy that's also sustainable, due to the fiber intake that increases fullness. "Carbohydrates are demonized at times, but your body needs carbs to produce serotonin, a feel good brain chemical that elevates mood, suppresses appetite, and has a calming effect. Only complex carbs (high in fiber and packed with whole grains) have a positive effect on mood, whereas simple carbs (candy, cake, cookies, and other sugary choices) bring you down," Blake said.
It's also important to get enough healthy fats, such as omega-3 fats, to jumpstart the day. "Omega-3, found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, walnuts, and flaxseed improve both memory and mood. Research suggests that low omega-3 levels are associated with depression, pessimism, and impulsivity," Blake said. Adding nuts and seeds to a bowl of oatmeal or yogurt is a good idea, as well as tossing smoked salmon on a slice of whole grain toast or inside an omelet with goat cheese and chives.
When choosing breakfast, it's important to include all the necessary nutrients to properly fuel your body. "Research suggests that getting too little iron is linked to depression, fatigue, and inattention. Some studies also show that insufficient thiamine (found abundantly in cauliflower, eggs, cereal grains, pork) can cause fatigue, inactivity, and poor mood," Blake said.
Blake's suggestions for breakfasts to improve mood and promote happiness include eggs with a whole grain muffin and peanut butter; a cup of whole grain oatmeal with chopped walnuts, flaxseed, and raspberries; a spinach and mushroom frittata with one sliced apple; whole grain toast with avocado and egg; and breakfast quinoa (made with milk, maple syrup or honey) topped with walnuts and blueberries.
With so many delicious options, it's hard not to be happy.