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The Good Mood Diet Food List

By Molly Sawyer ; Updated July 18, 2017

Dr. Susan Kleiner developed the Good Mood Diet when she helped a professional basketball player who was clinically depressed; the all-star athlete recovered from his depression solely by changing his diet. The basis of the Good Mood Diet, according to Kleiner, is that research shows certain foods improve your mood, and as you feel better, you’ll make better food choices. Kleiner is a registered dietitian and received her Masters and Doctorate degrees in Nutrition in Human Performance.

Fruits & Vegetables

As with most diet plans, fruits and vegetables hold a spot on the Good Mood Diet foods list. Kleiner states that research shows some fruits and vegetables have higher mood-elevating properties than others do. Super mood-boosting vegetables include broccoli, spinach and other dark, leafy greens; feel-great fruits are bananas, oranges, mangoes, blueberries, strawberries and pomegranates. Kleiner suggests one serving of citrus and one of berries every day.

Egg Yolks

Despite their bad reputation as a cholesterol source, Kleiner includes egg yolks on her feel-good foods list. Egg yolks are the only major food source of phospholipids, notes Kleiner, which research has shown may slow the progression of brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Phospholipids also play a role in the health of body cell membranes. The Good Mood Diet includes one egg yolk per day.


Milk is an ideal mind-body food because it provides a combination of whey protein with a carbohydrate, lactose. Studies show this combination improves skills for coping with stress by lowering anger, frustration and anxiety, explains Kleiner. The whey protein in milk also contains numerous amino acids that aid in muscle growth, recovery and repair. Casien, another milk protein, digests more slowly and helps you feel full longer.

Hot Cocoa

The Good Mood Diet also includes a nightly cup of hot cocoa before bed. Kleiner lists several reasons for this recommendation. The milk in hot cocoa raises serotonin levels, which aids in relaxation, the cocoa contains phytochemicals that are good for blood pressure and overall health, and the warmth of the drink is soothing and relaxing. Finally, the ritual of preparing and drinking a cup of hot cocoa before bed reduces stress and helps prepare your mind for sleep.

Feel-Bad Foods

For the first two weeks of the Good Mood Diet, you cannot eat “feel-bad foods” such as alcohol, sugar and caffeine. After the initial diet phase, you can add these foods back in, one at a time. If you continue to feel good, you can keep eating those foods in moderation. Kleiner developed the diet in part to avoid what she calls “self-abuse through deprivation,” the common dietary protocol of eliminating certain foods from the diet.

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