When you’re feeling down, believe it or not, eating raw chocolate has the ability to make you feel better, says Samantha Peris, a holistic nutritionist and owner of Nu Roots Nutrition in Canmore, Alta. Raw cacao is high in phenylethylamine (the love chemical) and anandamide (the bliss chemical) as well as theobromine, which give you a pick-me-up without any negative side effects-like what you would experience from coffee.
Peris recommends mixing raw cacao nibs with trail mix or in breakfasts, using the powder form for smoothies, breakfasts and desserts, or trying a raw chocolate bar.
New to raw chocolate? Your local health-food store will be able to help you out.
Fruits and vegetables
Ok, this is a no-brainer. We all know fruits and veggies are good for us. But who wants a piece of fruit when you hit that 3-o’clock wall? Well, with a little creativity and planning, you can make it work. Try baking kale into chips or yams into fries, dip carrot sticks into hummus or tahini and incorporate all your fruits for the day into a delicious shake.
Fruits and vegetables are high in phytochemicals, which improve the health of our brain cells. “If you reduce the inflammation in your body, you feel better,” says Kleiner. “Everything functions more clearly.”
When it comes to fruit, Kleiner says we should be eating fruits that are high in vitamin C every day, like citrus, berries or kiwis. She also recommends at least one deep orange or red vegetable from the carotinoid family per day, such as carrots and yams; one from the brassica family, like broccoli or cabbage; and one from the allium family, such as garlic, onions or leeks.
Research has shown that depressed people often lack DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid). Peris points to a 2002 study featured in the Archives of General Psychiatry where participants took just a gram of fish oil each day and noticed a 50 percent decrease in symptoms such as anxiety, sleep disorders, unexplained feelings of sadness, suicidal thoughts and decreased sex drive.
“DHA is a very potent anti-inflammatory fat,” adds Kleiner. “It shuts down inflammation in the brain and shuts down inflammation that is about to occur.”
You should eat about 600 to 1,000 milligrams of DHA and EPA per day. Incorporate oily fishes, like salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, into your diet. You can also find lower doses of these two marine oils in fortified eggs and milk.