We’ve all heard the old saying ‘you are what you eat’, but what proportion of this relates to motivation and mood? Is there such things as motivational foods?
Many researches have shown that your diet and what you eat throughout your day can have an immediate impact on your productivity. Sometimes, it may feel like your brain and your body desire two different things: while your brain knows you’ve still got work to do, your body may tell you to take a nap.
Another example can be your belly just screaming for a candy bar when your brain definitely knows better.
However, when it involves your mood, both your feelings and food choices go hand-in-hand more often than you would possibly think.
While a greasy plate of fries or sugary snack may temporarily alleviate a lousy mood, long-term happiness is rarely doled out at a drive-thru. Fortunately, there is a wide range of motivational foods with proven mood-boosting benefits that can help you get happier and productive with every bite.
To help keep you motivated and prevent you from falling off the fitness wagon, we’ve pulled together ten motivational foods and supporting recipes that will not only boost your mood and productivity but help you power through your next workout.
According to the 2020 Social Progress Index, which measures the quality of life across the globe using 50 well-being metrics, Americans rated themselves worse off now than ten years ago. The data collected by this index was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which has only promoted the thought—the nation’s got to live healthier and much more balanced lives.
Nevertheless, you don’t necessarily need to buy an expensive gym membership or follow a pricey diet plan to improve your health.
Here are ten tasty motivational foods you can easily incorporate into your diet to improve your productivity in all sectors of life:
1. Dark Chocolate
Seven days without chocolate makes one week! One of my favorite motivational foods for a healthier lifestyle.
A small amount of dark chocolate (70% cacao or more) every day can be very beneficial to your moods! Not only will it satisfy your sweet tooth, but the flavanols in it can increase blood flow to the brain. In turn, the increase in proper blood flow boosts your focus and motivation.
Dark chocolate also contains caffeine which is known to offer a burst of energy and decreasing fatigue. Moreover, it even increases the levels of serotonin and endorphins in your brain.
Here is a recipe recommendation for you to enjoy the tasty benefits of dark chocolate.
Try this delicious dark chocolate pistachio fudge recipe from Nigella for a sweet treat to help energize you:
- 350g dark chocolate chopped, minimum 70% cocoa solids
- 1 x 397g can condensed milk
- 30g butter
- pinch of salt
- 150g pistachios
Fun facts about dark chocolate—it contains many antioxidants that help improve your cardiovascular system by reducing blood pressure.
Most of the time, foods containing carbs (sugar and starches) like milk, cakes, and candies, promote plaque build up on your teeth. As this plaque continues to collect on your artery walls, it may clog or damage your arteries, limiting the blood flow to your heart muscles.
Eating dark chocolate regularly widens your arteries and promotes healthy blood flow to ensure a healthy metabolism.
In addition to that, you can find flavonoids in cocoa products that have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects. These beneficial effects can largely reduce the risk of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.
Even the smell of chocolate increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.
Dark chocolate has more cacao (the beans used to make chocolate) and less sugar as compared to other chocolates, so it is considered healthier than white chocolate and even milk.
It happened right before my berry eyes!
A small cup of blueberries is enough to make a healthy snack as they are stocked with nutritious goodness and a long list of essential vitamins.
Recent research has proven the superfood has many health benefits, which include lowering blood pressure, maintaining healthy bones, and protecting against heart disease. Blueberries are also low in calories, but their fiber content still provides feelings of fullness.
What makes blueberries so healthy is their brain stimulation abilities. Being full of antioxidants and phytonutrient, blueberries can help protect the brain from stress throughout the day. Other benefits include: aid blood flow, and boost stimulation, concentration, and motivation!
You can try this simple blueberry breakfast smoothie recipe to boost your power through your next workout.
- 1 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tablespoon white sugar, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 3 ice cubes
Blueberries are called star-fruits by the North American indigenous people because of the five-pointed star shape formed at the blossom end of the berry.
Here are some fun facts about blueberries:
A single blueberry bush has the potential to produce as much as 6000 blueberries every single year.
Blueberries are one of the few foods that are naturally blue. Anthocyanin, the pigment that gives blueberries their distinctive color, is the same compound that offers blueberries their fantastic health benefits.
Consumption of blueberries has been proven to serve several health benefits. This includes increased insulin response, reduced risk of cancer, reversal in age-related memory loss, and lowered blood pressure.
The silvery sheen (or bloom) found in the skin of blueberries is a naturally occurring compound that helps protect the fruit. Therefore, you should only wash blueberries right before you’re going to eat them. The berries will keep fresh for up to ten days.
I found a perfectly ripe avocado, and it was so good it graced my world!
Whether it’s mashed up into guacamole, or sliced up on toast with a couple of poached eggs, everyone loves avocado no matter what. But did anyone ever let you know they also make a great smoothie ingredient?
Apart from popping up every so often in your Instagram feed, avocados are full of healthy fats, which increase blood flow around your whole body. A good blood flow is essential for a healthy heart and brain.
As you see, there’s a handful of foods that you can use. Here’s how you can use all of them.
Try this avocado and strawberry smoothie recipe as your pre-workout for an instant boost of energy:
Avocado & Strawberry Smoothie (Serves 2)
Put all the ingredients into a blender and mix until you get a smooth, creamy consistency.
- ½ avocado, stoned, peeled, and cut into chunks
- 150g strawberries, halved
- 4 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
- 200ml semi-skimmed milk
- lemon or lime juice, to taste
- honey to taste
Here are some fun facts about avocados:
Avocados has a long history. According to a podcast by Gastropod, avocados were first used 7000 years ago, as tributes from townsfolk to local royalty in Mesoamericạ.
Avocado is the go-to food if you’re looking for a way to improve your immune system. As found by The National Cancer Institute, avocado has 19 milligrams of glutathione per ½ fruit!
Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps in improving the immune system to function normally, and majorly improves skin color and texture.
Eating an avocado a day can help improve LDL levels in overweight people, as found in a 2018 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Note that this is only possible if you add an avocado a day as part of an overall cholesterol-lowering, moderate-fat diet.
Widely known—glucose in the body equals energy. Bananas are the best source of this energy. To your surprise, a single banana is enough for your body’s daily glucose requirement.
Moreover, bananas are a much healthier way to gain glucose than any other foods packed with excessive carbs.
Fructose is the key ingredient here—once digested, it converts into glucose, which your brain uses to function correctly. Bananas are also a staple energy booster for all kinds of athletes, including you!
Here’s a delicious low-fat banana bread recipe so you can jump on the banana bread baking bandwagon: Healthy Banana Bread (Makes 10 slices) by Cookie and Kate.
Bananas are Weird
No, really, they are, and for many reasons:
The banana tree is not a tree but the world’s largest perennial herb, at 30 feet tall. The stems of a banana plant do not have any wood; therefore, they are not trunks but densely packed leaves.
The bananas you get at the store today are not the same ones your grandparents were eating growing up. The Gros Michel banana was the most popular banana up until the 1960s.
However, one drastically spread disease called the Panama disease killed the entire commercial crop of the Gros Michel banana, which led to the production of the variety we eat today, the Cavendish.
5. Greek Yogurt
This one is a breakfast classic. Not only does Greek yogurt make a fantastic post-workout snack because of the muscle-building protein it contains, but it also contains tyrosine.
This amino acid produces both dopamine (an important brain chemical that influences your mood) and noradrenaline, a neurotransmitter that mobilizes the brain and body for action!
We’ve found an ultimate pre-workout summer treat for you to provide you with a burst of brain stimulation and motivation. If you’re looking for something that is easy and quick to prepare, try this frozen Greek yogurt recipe; you can even add your favorite fruits to it.
- 2 cups Greek yogurt, plain
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Blend all the ingredients either in a food processor or blender until creamy. Transfer the mixture into a large container and freeze until ready to serve.
There is more to Greek yogurt than most of us can define. For instance, Greek yogurt is also stocked with probiotics that keep you regular and happy. They are healthy bacteria that can help boost your immune system and decrease stomach issues, such as diarrhea and pain.
“Without a healthy balance of good bacteria from probiotics, too much bad bacteria can build up and cause damage to our immune systems,” says Shane Griffin, a certified nutritional practitioner and founder of Whole Life.
6. Black Beans
Beans are magnesium-rich food that you can consume to boost production of happiness.
Luckily, that is not only what black beans are good at. These small tasty bites are antioxidant-rich and loaded with many beneficial nutrients.
Since black beans are good sources of magnesium, folic acid, and iron, regular consumption of these tasty beans can improve energy production and aid the delivery of energy and productivity to every cell in your body.
One of the best foods to eat if you want to feel happy and productive? Halibut.
If you’re looking forward to a positive burst in your serotonin levels, try a single steamed piece of halibut. It has an impressive amount of protein (around 19g per 100g) and is also a significant source of vitamin D and potassium.
According to an Australian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, halibut has also been ranked as one of the most filling foods across The Satiety Index of Common Foods.
Often called as the “fish for people who don’t like fish,” halibut is an incredibly nutritious fish offering a wide range of micronutrients, including vitamin B6, vitamin B12, selenium, niacin, as well as high-quality protein.
Add halibut to your daily meals to add significant advantages of health to your life, along with an increased productivity and motivation.
8. Whole Grain Bread
Usually, when your hormones are all over the place for any reason—stress at work, low productivity, PMS—your body craves carb-rich foods. These foods are widely known to help comfort your hormonal roller coaster, and you end up eating just anything available in your kitchen.
However, cookies may never make you nearly as happy (or thin) as a complex carb like whole grain bread. Unlike cookies, french fries, biscuits, candies, or even soda, whole grains are the source of good carbs that can improve healthy bacteria in your gut, which can profoundly influence your mood.
When you can’t stand the sight of another potato chip, the healthy sources of carbs will help you fill up with motivation and productivity.
Beets are one of the best foods to eat when you’re feeling low. It is stocked with many important nutrients, including fiber, manganese, potassium, folate (vitamin B), iron, and vitamin C.
Besides that, beets contain betaine, a specific type of zwitterion, which highly supports serotonin production in your brain, elevating your mood along the way.
Beetroots and their juice have been linked to a range of health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, improved blood flow, and increased work performance. A glass of beetroot juice can give you enough energy and motivation to take on any task that you feel lazy about.
Beets also have a potent dose of folic acid in them, which stabilizes emotional and mental health, improving your chances of happiness with every bite. You can easily make your own beetroot juice at home in a few simple steps.
- 1 small red beetroot, fresh
- 2 carrots
- 1 large apple (or 2 medium-sized apples)
- 2 celery stalks
- ½ lemon or lime
- A small piece of ginger, peeled
Steps to make the beetroot juice:
- Step 1. Start by washing all the vegetables and fruits in running water and pat drying them.
- Step 2. Then, peel and cut the beetroot into long slices. Cut the apple too into long pieces and make sure you remove the core. Peel and cut the carrot into long pieces. Cut celery into long pieces.
- Step 3. Now, put a glass or container under the nozzle of a juicer and turn it on.
- Step 4. Process all ingredients alternatively in the juicer (beetroot, apple, carrot, celery, ginger), except lemon.
- Step 5. The last step is to squeeze the half lemon into prepared juice and stir well. Pour it into a chilled serving glass and serve. Drink it immediately.
Seaweed is one of the go-to food options when you need blooming energy and productivity.
It is packed with the depression-fighting mineral—iodine, which isn’t always so easy to find in food.
Iodine is essential for your thyroid to function properly, which, in turn, influences your energy, weight, and all your brain functions.
Iodine is a mineral that can leave you feeling blue when you have too little and a lot happier and productive when you’re meeting your daily requirements.
There are a lot of ways you can use seaweed to prepare tasty meals. Some of the ideas include:
- Kelp noodles
- Sushi rolls or hand rolls
Furthermore, You can also add small bits of seaweed to your salads or stir fry. Seaweed is a healthy food, and you must include it in your diet.
No matter how simple these ten motivational foods may look like, they are just enough to lift your body and offer a burst of energy and productivity. If you’re having trouble incorporating these into your daily habit, I’ve put up an entire article on motivation to eat healthier that you can check out.
It is essential to switch to these healthy food options when your body is not feeling active, focused, and motivated.
The next time you feel you do not want to do anything, or feel like taking a break from work or gym, get one of these superfoods and gain an instant boost of energy and motivation to move forward.
If you have a secret food that uplifts your body to go through intense workout sessions and extreme hard work, let me know!