Hangry: How Food Affects Your Mood

Food Affects Your Mood

Have you ever experienced that overwhelming feeling of irritability, impatience, or even anger when you're hungry? You're not alone! Most of us have been there, and it's commonly known as being "hangry" – a combination of hunger and anger. But did you know that there's a fascinating scientific explanation behind this phenomenon? It turns out that the food we consume plays a significant role in regulating our mood and emotions. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the intricate connection between food and mood and delve into various factors that influence our emotional well-being. So grab a snack and get ready to embark on a journey into the fascinating world of food and mood.


The Gut-Brain Connection:

To understand how food affects our mood, we need to delve into the complex and intricate relationship between the gut and the brain. Known as the gut-brain connection, this communication highway consists of a network of nerves, hormones, and biochemical signaling pathways that enable constant information exchange between the two organs. From influencing our emotional well-being to regulating our appetite and sleep patterns, the gut-brain axis plays a crucial role in our overall mental health.


Serotonin: The "Feel-Good" Neurotransmitter:

When it comes to mood regulation, one neurotransmitter stands out – serotonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter. Surprisingly, approximately 90% of serotonin is produced in the gastrointestinal tract. This finding highlights the significant role of the gut in our emotional well-being. Serotonin influences various biological functions, including mood, appetite, and sleep. Therefore, the production and balance of serotonin in the gut can be profoundly influenced by the food we consume.


Carbohydrates and Mood:

Carbohydrates have a profound impact on our mood. However, not all carbs are created equal. Foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, promote the release of serotonin. These types of carbohydrates provide a steady supply of glucose, which is the brain's primary energy source. Consequently, they can boost serotonin levels, leading to a sense of calmness and overall well-being. On the other hand, simple carbohydrates, like those found in sugary snacks and beverages, can cause rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to mood swings and decreased energy levels.


Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Emotional Well-being:

Omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds, are essential for optimal brain health. These healthy fats play a crucial role in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes and promoting optimal neurotransmitter function. Studies have shown that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, leading to improved emotional well-being. Additionally, these fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties that can further contribute to a positive mood.


The Impact of Micronutrients:

While macronutrients often take the spotlight, micronutrients also play a vital role in maintaining a balanced mood. For example, B vitamins, found in leafy greens, whole grains, and lean meats, are essential for the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. Similarly, minerals like magnesium and zinc are involved in regulating brain function and mood. Ensuring an adequate intake of these micronutrients through a varied and balanced diet is crucial for supporting optimal emotional well-being.


The Role of Gut Microbiota:

The trillions of microorganisms residing in our gut, collectively known as the gut microbiota, have a significant impact on our mood regulation. These microbes influence neurotransmitter production, inflammation levels, and even the communication between the gut and the brain. A healthy and diverse gut microbiota is essential for maintaining positive mental health. To nurture a healthy gut microbiota, it is important to consume a diet rich in fiber, fermented foods, and probiotics.


Stress, Food, and Mood:

In today's fast-paced and demanding world, stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. Interestingly, stress and food choices share a bidirectional relationship. On one hand, stress can influence our food preferences, leading to emotional eating and a higher intake of unhealthy, comfort foods. On the other hand, the food we consume can impact our body's response to stress. Certain foods, such as those high in sugar and unhealthy fats, may exacerbate the effects of stress on our mood, while a nutrient-dense diet can help mitigate the negative impact of stress on our mental well-being.


Mindful Eating and Emotional Awareness:

In addition to making wise food choices, how we eat also plays a crucial role in our mood regulation. Mindful eating, a practice that involves paying attention to the present moment while consuming food, can enhance our emotional awareness and foster a positive relationship with food. By savoring each bite, recognizing hunger and fullness cues, and being aware of the emotional triggers that drive our eating behaviors, we can develop a healthier and more balanced approach to nourishing our bodies and minds.


Tips for a Mood-Boosting Diet:

  1. Prioritize whole, unprocessed foods: Opt for a diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. These foods provide essential nutrients and promote overall well-being.
  2. Balance your macronutrients: Including a combination of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats in each meal helps maintain stable blood sugar levels and supports brain health.
  3. Incorporate omega-3 fatty acids: Include fatty fish like salmon, walnuts, chia seeds, and flaxseeds in your diet to enhance your emotional well-being and support brain function.
  4. Don't forget about micronutrients: Ensure an adequate intake of B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, and other essential minerals through a varied and balanced diet. Consider incorporating nutrient-rich foods such as leafy greens, whole grains, and lean meats.
  5. Embrace the power of antioxidants: Antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, dark chocolate, and colorful fruits and vegetables, can help combat oxidative stress and promote brain health.
  6. Support your gut health: Consume a variety of fiber-rich foods, such as whole grains, legumes, and fruits, to nourish your gut microbiota. Additionally, incorporate fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi, as well as probiotic supplements, to promote a healthy gut microbiota.
  7. Hydrate adequately: Dehydration can impact mood and cognition. Ensure you drink enough water throughout the day to stay properly hydrated and support optimal brain function.
  8. Practice moderation: While it's important to prioritize nutrient-dense foods, remember to allow yourself some flexibility and enjoy your favorite treats in moderation. A balanced approach to eating is key to maintaining a positive relationship with food.



Food plays a crucial role in regulating our mood and emotions. By understanding the connection between food and mood, we can make conscious choices to support our emotional well-being. From balancing macronutrients to incorporating omega-3 fatty acids and nourishing our gut microbiota, our dietary choices have a significant impact on our mental health. By adopting a mindful approach to eating and nurturing our bodies with nutrient-rich foods, we can harness the power of food to enhance our overall happiness and well-being. So, the next time you feel hangry, remember that the right food choices can be the key to restoring your mood and finding inner balance. Take care of your body, nourish your mind, and embrace the transformative potential of food to uplift your spirit.

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