Eating a healthy diet can do a lot to improve our mood and sense of wellbeing.

Have you noticed that after eating or drinking certain food and drinks your mood may change for the better or worse? Here are two examples which can be both mood enhancers and mood downers:


Milk chocolate – yummy, eating chocolate can make you feel good but when we eat too much have you noticed any after effects? I have indeed!

Foods high in sugar can make you feel great for a while; however, this can be followed by a slump and low mood.


Coffee – loved by many of us – but are there highs and lows if we have too much?

Research done on the effects of caffeine on mental health suggests that repeated doses of 75mg of caffeine (the equivalent of one cup of coffee) every 4 hours can result in sustained improvement of mood over the day: However – high intakes may be associated with an increase in anxiety, nervousness and jitteriness (i.e. feeling shaky or uneasy)

Read more about this and decide for yourself:


These are just two examples of many foods which may affect your mood.

Listen to what your body and mood tell you. Pay attention to how you feel after you eat and drink certain foods.

Do you feel good for a short period, then lethargic, shaky or irritable? Do you notice more pain, headaches or other kinds of physical distress?

If you’re experiencing any of these effects, try to alternate cups of coffee with decaf coffee or various teas, and try having smaller amounts of dark chocolate.

Other useful tips:


  1. Keep a food diary for one week.  Write down what you ate for Breakfast, Lunch, and Evening meals – note the portion sizes and your feelings after eating (include drinks). Share your diary with a close friend or family member.

You can work out how particular foods make you feel

  • Some may help to keep you alert and full of energy such as a range of colourful fruit and veg.
  • Comforting foods such as home-made soups and warming stews, promote physical and emotional wellbeing.
  • Note those which make you feel drowsy in the daytime. Choose to eat less of these to keep you alert and active.
  • Take note of foods that cause bloating discomfort and stomach cramps – smaller portions, less dairy and gluten free alternatives may help.


  1. Become a ‘food detective’ (reading labels) to learn about the food additives which can affect your mood, such as:
  •  Monosodium glutamate (MSG or E621). Glutamate is a brain chemical and can make some people depressed.
  •  Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame (E951).
  •  Preservatives; such as sulphur dioxide (E220).
  •  Colourings, such as tartrazine (E102).


Making changes can be challenging – especially if you’re used to eating certain foods such as sugary snacks. There may be times when you have food cravings.

Try these tips to learn how you can improve your mood with food.

For a useful factsheet visit -:

Michelle Thompson – Health and Wellbeing writer for older adults.