7 Grounding Foods (Does Food Affect Mood?)

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While there is no set definition, grounding foods can mean foods that are grown in the ground, give you peace of mind, or nourish you.

But can foods really change your mood? What are specific examples of grounding foods?

Lets discuss in this dietitian written article!

Disclaimer: This article is just providing education and is not personal dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about health concerns, before starting supplements and/or making major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.

What Are Grounding Foods?

As mentioned before, there is no universal definition for a food that “grounds you.”

Based on my own research of grounding foods, they could arbitrarily mean foods that are grown under ground (hence the word “grounding”), foods that help you reconnect with yourself or the earth, or foods that are nourishing.

In psychological terms, “grounding” is sometimes used to refer to the process of refocusing on reality when times get stressful(1).

“Grounding is a technique that helps keep you in the present and helps reorient you to the here-and-now and to reality. It can also serve as a distraction from the difficulties you are dealing with.”

Source: https://www.unh.edu/pacs/what-grounding

But does food actually improve mood? Lets talk about that next!

picture of a veggie stirfry with broccoli, baby corn, carrots and tofu with noodles in a glass container.

Can Foods Improve Your Mood?

While there may be associations, we do not have enough evidence to suggest that one food will benefit mental health (aside from feeling better mentally after eating when you hangry 😉 )!

Rather, it’s important that your overall dietary pattern supports your health. And brain health is a part of “health!”

The 2019 Canada’s Food Guide has some good pointers for a healthy dietary pattern.

It suggests eating enough fruits and veggies, eating whole grain and protein foods (with a emphasis on plant based proteins), and when it comes to beverages- favoring water.

Following an overall healthy diet that highlights plant forward whole foods and less added sugar, saturated, and trans fats can support our body and mind.

Before we dive into examples, its worth pointing out that of course- if low mood is impacting your life or you have any concerns, talk to your doctor. Food is not the same as therapy from a licensed professional.

Grounding Foods (11 Examples)

1. Vegetables
(This Includes Root Vegetables Like Sweet Potatoes Butternut Squash and Parsnips)

One 2019 systematic review suggests that eating plenty of vegetables may have benefits for psychological well-being (1).

While we haven’t quite pinpointed why veggies are potentially beneficial for mood, it may have be related to their antioxidants, fiber, and micronutrients.

I just had throw in that root vegetables, grow in the ground – making them the original “grounded foods.” 😉

2. Fruit

One UK based study found that frequent consumption of fresh or tinned fruit may be associated with more positive psychological wellbeing in contrast to savory snacks, like chips(2).

While there were several limitations to this study, (it was based on an online survey after all), it’s not too surprising that nutrient rich fruit has benefits for the brain!

From the high vitamin C content of peppers, to the rich source of beta carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) from mangos, fruit offers so much for our overall wellbeing.

3. Healthy Fats

picture of California olive ranch extra virgin olive oil bottle pistachios and avocado on a table

Broadly speaking, choosing unsaturated fats and limiting saturated and trans fats is the healthiest when it comes to fat rich foods.

Healthy fats include:

  • nuts
  • seeds
  • avocado
  • fish
  • seed oils (ie: canola, sunflower seed oil)
  • olive oil

Favoring these over saturated fat rich foods such as palm oil, fatty meats, and butter or trans fat laden foods (ie: those with partially hydrogenated oil) will better nourish your body and brain.

The omega-3 fatty acid Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is particularly abundant in the brain(3). But does a lack of it affect mood?

We aren’t sure.

Some research suggests fish (which can be rich in DHA) may be helpful to reduce the risk of depression, but more studies are warranted(4).

If you don’t want to eat fish but are intrigued by the benefits of DHA, you could ttalk to your doctor about fish oil or the vegan alternative– algae supplements (algae is, after all, where fish get DHA in the first place).

4. Protein Rich Foods (Emphasis on Plant Based Proteins)

Getting adequate protein does more than help preserve lean body mass! From growth to it’s involvement in immune system function, it’s clear that we need to include enough(5)!

Additionally, protein adds to satiety-which can have a pronounced impact on mood.

Instead of processed and red meat, consider favoring plant based protein sources like legumes (ie: beans, lentils, soy) and nuts for heart health(6), not to mention the environment!

If you’re unfamiliar with legumes, check these simple swap ideas to make meat free meals:

  • Swap ground beef for beans in chili
  • Use lentils instead of meat to top spaghetti
  • Consider pouring soy milk instead of dairy milk on your cereal.
  • Take the meat out of your burrito and fill it up with beans instead
  • Make a tofu scramble instead of scrambled eggs.
picture of chana (chickpeas) atop basmati rice in a glass bowl with a spoon.

5. Wholesome Carbohydrates

When I say “wholesome” I’m referring to those carbohydrates that include gut loving fiber -this helps release energy from the carbs more slowly than simple sugars.

Examples include whole grains- like whole wheat bread, oatmeal, and starchy seeds “grains”- like quinoa.

Like protein, favoring wholesome carb choices over refined versions of carbohydrates (ie: refined wheat “white” bread) may have an added benefit: you feel satisfied longer (a mood boosting benefit).

6. Food You Share With Friends and Loved Ones

Grounding food isn’t always about the food itself because mental health goes beyond nutrition. Eating with those you care about may put you in a better mood.

In a survey by the AHA (American Heart Association, 65% of the adults’ surveyed said they were somewhat stressed. 69% working full or part time said they would feel less stressed if they had more time to eat with a co-worker and a break(7).

Hey, we all need to eat! How about using meal times as an opportunity to get grounded by eating with your friends/family?

7. Foods You Express Gratitude For

picture of naan chana masala and dal on a plate.

Many of us wolf down our food as fast as we can to go on to the next thing.

Why not use your next meal as an opportunity to pause and get grounded?

You could do this by expressing gratitude. It could look like prayer or thanking those who made your meal. Bon-appetit, you’ve just made a recipe for instant grounding food! 😉

Use of Grounding Foods in Ayurveda

In the ayurvedic diet, certain foods might be referred to as “grounding.”

They are sometimes mentioned to help balance out the doshas- also known as “energies(8).”

For example, fall comes with a different change in temperatures and days getting darker early, which can affect one’s mood. Examples of grounding foods for this season according to this article from yogajournal.com, might include include warm foods, like cooked squash with a pinch of pink Himalayan salt.

In regards to the practice of yoga, the “Root Chakra” refers to the earth element and is about feeling grounded(9).

Important note: Research is lacking on the ayurvedic diet and it can unnecessarily cut out foods that are healthy(not a good idea), a healthy/varied diet is better and less restrictive. Consult with a Registered Dietitian before attempting the ayurvedic diet.

Final Words

Grounding foods do not have a universal definition. They could literally mean foods that were grown in the ground, nourish you, or foods that give you peace of mind- which is very broad!

While there is no one food that can ensure a good mood, a dietary pattern that contributes to overall wellbeing is great for the body (which includes your brain).

Healthy diet components include plenty of fruits and veggies, wholesome carbohydrates like whole grains, and healthy fat and protein rich choices.

Finally, food will not cure mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Seek help from a qualified health practitioner if you have any concerns.

Did you find this article helpful? What foods do you enjoy that nourish whole self? Let me know in the comments below!

And while you’re here, why not poke around on our blog? We talk about topics like what happens when you go vegan and how to make a 100% plant based grocery list.

Finally, if you want to keep up with our new posts, sign up for Plant Powered You’s e-mail subscribers list
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3 thoughts on “7 Grounding Foods (Does Food Affect Mood?)”

  1. I think it would when you eat something you love. Makes me feel better in some moments. This is an interesting post. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Yummy list! In recent years I have started incorporating a lot of these items, which are tasty and I feel a lot better.

  3. That was definitely an interesting read, thanks so much for this! I agree, food will not solve your mental health issues, but it does make a difference to how you feel within your skin which in turn can have a positive effect on your mood and overall wellbeing if you ask me.

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