An expert on foods that boost your mood and tips for eating emotionally.

Most of us know the feeling of being so hungry, you can’t think or do anything until you get some food in your belly. A few years ago, the term “hangry” was coined to describe the feelings of frustration you experience when you’re so hungry that even the smallest thing causes you to lose your cool.

Our emotions play an important role in our diet. What we eat impacts our mood, and our mood impacts our food choices.

We asked Lindsey Smith, author of “Eat Your Feelings” and Food Mood Girl blog, to share her go-to recipes for some of the most prominent moods we experience. 

What do I eat when I’m…


“Usually when you’re hangry, you’re not really going to be 100 percent satisfied by anything,” says Smith. “What’s happening is your body is low in glucose, and your hormones are trying to give your body energy. Since most of your hormones sit in your gut, they’re firing off. And so it’s literally giving you the hanger shakes. It’s also diminishing your concept of reality to make a decision.”

Smith recommends reaching for foods that are high in fiber or magnesium, like almonds, apples, avocados or even carrots and hummus. “Even frying a quick egg is a really great thing to do,” she says.

The health coach also recommends cooked foods to soothe hanger, like sautéed spinach or the aforementioned egg. “Cooked foods can actually give your body a warming sensation and help the digestion process, and make you feel like you actually ate rather than just craved. So it can help you feel fuller longer, and generally more satisfied,” Smith notes. “I think we all feel a little bit better when we cook something ourselves.”

Chia seeds are an excellent source of fiber, protein and magnesium, and play an important role in this almond chia bread recipe from Smith’s book. Made with almond flour (also full of magnesium and protein) this bread is a great go-to when hanger strikes and—bonus—it’s gluten free!

RECIPE: Almond Chia Bread

Servings: 8 to 10

What you’ll need:
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup chia seeds
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup coconut oil
5 eggs
2 tablespoons maple syrup
½ cup sunflower seeds


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a bowl or food processor, combine the almond flour, chia seeds, baking powder, and sea salt.
  3. Add the coconut oil, eggs, and maple syrup, and mix or blend until smooth.
  4. Add the sunflower seeds to the mixture.
  5. Transfer the mixture into a parchment-lined or coconut-oil greased loaf pan. If you have extra sunflower seeds, sprinkle them on top for extra crunch.
  6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes. Serve it sweet with some raspberry jam or savory with avocado and sea salt.

From “Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating” by Lindsey Smith. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.​


Foods that contain magnesium and GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) will soothe the brain and are important for combatting anxiety. Also, foods that grow low to the ground (sweet potatoes, carrots) are also great choices, as they literally help you feel “grounded.”

In this cookie dough recipe, almonds are the star ingredient. These amazing nuts help to regulate blood pressure, boost energy production with magnesium and reduce stress.

RECIPE: Cookie Dough Contraband

Servings: 12 to 16

What you’ll need:
½ cup almond butter
1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 cup almond or cashew flour
¼ cup chocolate chips


  1. Combine the almond butter and honey or maple syrup.
  2. Add the nut flour and mix until a ball of dough forms.
  3. Add the chocolate chips.
  4. Roll into bite-size balls and freeze for 30 minutes.

From “Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating” by Lindsey Smith. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.​


“When I’m tired, I do this turmeric lemonade. It’s like turmeric powder, lemon—you could add maple syrup (at this point, I don’t do that)—and water. I feel refreshed. Even just smelling the lemon gets me more energized,” says Smith.

The turmeric in this lemonade recipe is known to boost concentration and cognitive abilities, and lemons are said to boost energy.

RECIPE: Turmeric Lemonade
Serves: 4

What you’ll need:
1 quart filtered water
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 lemons, juiced
1-2 tablespoons maple syrup (depending on desired sweetness)


  1. In a large pitcher, combine the water, turmeric, lemon juice and maple syrup. Mix until the turmeric is evenly distributed.
  2. Pour into a glass and serve with a fun straw!

From “Eat Your Feelings: The Food Mood Girl’s Guide to Transforming Your Emotional Eating” by Lindsey Smith. Copyright © 2017 by the author and reprinted with permission of Wednesday Books, an imprint of St. Martin’s Press, LLC.​

Smith’s tips for eating emotionally

TIP #1: Have a “snack attack station”

Smith has what she calls a “snack attack station” in her pantry that’s always stocked with healthy, easy-to-grab snacks when she’s desperately hungry, or just needs a little something.

“I always have these little squares of dark chocolate, so when I am craving something chocolatey I can just grab one of the little squares to keep me satisfied. Having a snack attack station is crucial for when you really want that quick, healthy something. They’re going to be the best snacks for you.”

She recommends stocking the station with healthier items you really enjoy, like kale chips, nuts and seeds. One out-of-the-box item she always has in her station? Canned sardines. “This sounds really weird, but it’s probably going to be a trend in the next few years … I didn’t realize how good they were until I had them. They’re really good for your mood and your overall health, and so I really enjoy finding new ways to incorporate them into dishes.”

TIP #2: Don’t shop when you’re hungry

Smith advises stocking your snack attack station “when you’re full and feeling good. Not going to the grocery store and feeling like, ‘I just want all the food.’”

TIP #3: Keep healthy staples on-hand

We all know that stocking the pantry with healthy, easy staple items is key to maintaining a healthy diet. Here are some of Smith’s key staples to keep on-hand.

Vegetable bouillon: “I really like vegetable bouillon. I use an organic one that’s like a paste. It adds some really quick flavor and nutrients to stir-fries and I use it in place of vegetable broth.”

Sauces and milks: “I like having marinara sauce just because that’s very easy if I’m running late or don’t really feel like cooking too much.” Coconut milk is another item Smith keeps on hand.

Frozen fruits and veggies: “I love having frozen vegetables and fruit in the freezer because I travel a lot. If I am traveling for a week and then I come home, I probably didn’t buy a lot of produce because I know it’s going to go bad. Having the frozen stuff is just nice, because you can get a quick meal together and know that you’re getting something nutritious.”

Want more mood-boosting recipes from Smith? Check out her latest cookbook, “Eat Your Feelings.”

Photo credit: Book cover: Wednesday Books; Food shots and hero: Sarah VanTassel with food styling by Quelcy Kogel