HOUSTON (KTRK) -- A few years ago, Stephanie Merchant was 50 lbs. overweight, overworked, and severely depressed. Today, she's known as the happy and healthy Nutrition Mom.
She credits her new-found good mood from food!
For years, Merchant took anti-depressants.
"It kind of numbed me. I can't say it actually improved anything," she said.
Finally, she had enough. She got off the medicines and literally ate her way to happiness.
"I think it's amazing what can be done through food," Merchant said.
Certain foods stimulate production of endorphins in your brain, which bring on feelings of pleasure. Fat is one of the biggest surprises on that list of foods.
"Fat is necessary. It's a brain food," Merchant said. "There's research that when the no fat craze was popular, depression went up. Our body doesn't make omega three fatty acids, so we have to get it in through our food."
Merchant recommends flax seeds, walnuts, and fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines.
"If you look at a walnut, it looks like a little brain, so that's an easy way to remember it," she said.
She also advises keeping complex carbohydrates in your diet. Good sources include whole wheat, oatmeal, and beans.
"Complex carbs release serotonin. Serotonin is our feel good hormone, and we want that," she said. "Magnesium also releases serotonin."
To get your magnesium, Merchant says eat leafy greens and pumpkin seeds.
"If you eat a half cup of pumpkin seeds, that takes care of the recommended amount you need for the whole day," she said.
For dessert, dark chocolate will actually improve your mood!
Merchant says do not expect to feel better overnight. You will need to incorporate these foods in your diet for a month to start to feel an improvement.
Eat these foods to put you in a good mood