11 Foods That Elevate Happiness and 9 Foods That Steal It

Foods That Elevate Happiness

[Excerpted from You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type by Daniel G. Amen, MD]

You, Happier: The 7 Neuroscience Secrets of Feeling Good Based on Your Brain Type is written by psychiatrist, neuroscientist, and brain health expert Daniel G. Amen, MD. In this book, he reveals how to discover your brain type and tailor happiness strategies best suited to your brain type. This book also shows how to improve your overall brain health to consistently enhance your mood, protect your happiness by distancing yourself from the “noise” in your head, and make 7 simple decisions and ask 7 daily questions to boost your happiness.

One of the 7 secrets to happiness is to enjoy the real happy foods (and beverages) that will make you feel better, not just in the moment but for the long run. In You, Happier, I am going to point you to specific foods with scientific evidence showing how they elevate moods, boost energy, and calm anxiousness and stress—the necessary ingredients for happiness. I will also share the sad foods to avoid—the ones that dampen your mood, zap your energy, and ramp up tension.

When you tailor the general rules for happy eating to your specific brain type, it will help you feel better than ever. Click To Tweet


The real happy foods are the ones that make you feel good in the moment but also enhance your mood, energy, and physical well-being in the long run. This one simple eating strategy is the most important with respect to happiness. Think of common comfort foods like pizza, ice cream, or chips—they may give you a quick boost now but rob you of feelings of contentment later. In general, they are low-quality foods that have been scientifically engineered to taste so good that they trigger your brain’s “bliss point” and the release of some of the neurochemicals of happiness—such as dopamine—causing you to become addicted to them.

The Standard American Diet (aptly referred to as “SAD”) is filled with foods that are loaded with unhealthy ingredients and artificial chemicals that are detrimental to mental, emotional, and physical well-being. A growing body of research shows that the SAD diet increases your risk for depression, anxiety disorders, ADHD, and dementia, as well as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.

As a psychiatrist who has met with tens of thousands of patients over more than 30 years, I can tell you that having any of those issues steals your joie de vivre.

Happy Foods:

Foods that make you happy now . . . and later include:

  1. Organic colorful fruits and vegetables, especially berries and leafy greens
  2. Sustainably raised fish and meat
  3. Nuts and seeds
  4. Healthy oils
  5. Eggs
  6. Clean protein powders (sugar-free, plant-based)
  7. Dark chocolate
  8. Unprocessed foods
  9. Organic foods
  10. Low-glycemic foods (they don’t spike blood sugar)
  11. High-fiber foods

Sad Foods:

I call these the weapons of mass destruction because they are destroying the health of America, and we are exporting these food patterns around the world. These are foods that make you happy now but make you feel bad, tired, anxious, or stressed later. They include foods that are:

  1. Highly processed
  2. Sprayed with pesticides
  3. High-glycemic foods (they spike blood sugar)
  4. Low fiber
  5. Food-like substances
  6. Artificially colored and sweetened
  7. Laden with hormones
  8. Tainted with antibiotics
  9. Stored in plastic containers

In the book, I give you a list of nearly 200 specific happy foods and an additional 12 rules for happy eating, including how to eat for your brain type. When you tailor the general rules to your specific brain, it will help you feel better than ever.

If you want to join the tens of thousands of people who have already learned how to have a happier brain and a happier life at Amen Clinics, speak to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.  


  1. Happier foods

    Comment by barbarah — January 26, 2022 @ 3:17 AM

  2. Caffeine and alcohol can cause anxiety and depression as well.

    Comment by Marilyn K Clark — January 26, 2022 @ 4:11 AM

  3. Why not store cereal, cookies, etc in plastic containers. If I have left overs from a meal I also use those containers and maybe some glass. Thank You.

    Comment by Roberta Hedges — January 26, 2022 @ 5:50 AM

  4. Greetings,
    Now that we got this down, and with all the devices we have to make life more relaxed, all we need now is a 4 hour work day!
    Best regards

    Comment by Phillip Bielamowicz — January 26, 2022 @ 6:45 AM

  5. I’d like to think it’s so easy as that yet at 72 years old, I have tried so many variations of what diet works best but always there is a catch to it. I agree with it overall but moderation is the key . Even the best foods can be too much at any given time. Like nuts and eggs are bad when you have a virus . Who can actually keep up?

    Comment by Janet — January 26, 2022 @ 12:41 PM

  6. Thank you for the gifts. I can’t wait until the book arrives!!!

    Comment by Mary Jo Rodrigues — January 26, 2022 @ 1:55 PM

  7. Wow! Proof that changing my diet is a big reason why I don’t take Klonopin, Prozac, Wellbutrin and all the others anymore! These HAPPY foods and Tai Chi have completely transformed me. Unfortunately, when I try to spread the word – nobody wants to listen.

    Comment by Jan Clark — January 27, 2022 @ 6:31 AM

  8. I don’t know what to do about food storage. Should I still collect glass containers? How do I haul beverages to work?

    Comment by Jeannie Ann Bossert — January 28, 2022 @ 12:03 PM

  9. Almost all dried foods, even the healthiest ones come in plastic containers. The greatest danger of all is heating foods in plastic containers, such as heating TV dinners in a microwave. A couple of my colleagues would bring leftovers in a plastic container for lunch and heat them in the microwave. I mentioned the danger to them, but people need inner motivation to change.

    Comment by Michael Janko — March 9, 2022 @ 5:43 AM

  10. I preordered this book through the link (took me to Amazon) and have no communication about the Free Gifts. Will they arrive with the shipment of the book when it releases?

    Comment by Tamara Miller — March 9, 2022 @ 5:50 AM

  11. I agree with Janet, this can get overwhelming – I am constantly reading/ learning about healthy living. It is somewhat just a matter of common sense and moderation. Not many people are willing to give up foods they love, we just need to try our best and slowly develop healthier habits. Thank you Dr. amen for your dedication to healthy living !

    Comment by Janlynn — March 9, 2022 @ 9:26 AM

  12. I agree with the comment by Phillip. Our 24/7 economy has us working longer hours than ever. Working 9 hours outside tending a farm is so much more rewarding than 12 hours in a cubicle, traffic, meetings, online, etc. and it leads us to that terrible diet just to save a few minutes and dollars. Until we change our lifestyle and economy, we will get sicker and sicker.

    Comment by MJ — March 9, 2022 @ 12:08 PM

  13. A friend asked me if your recommendations have been medically “peer-reviewed.” Would you tell us-one way or the other? Thank you.

    Comment by James W "Jim" Lohr — March 9, 2022 @ 6:32 PM

  14. Hello Tamara, thank you for reaching out. You can claim your gifts at this link – https://danielamenmd.com/you-happier/ – about halfway down the page you’ll enter your pre-order information and then you’ll be taken to your Bonus Gifts.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 14, 2022 @ 6:08 PM

  15. Hello James, thank you for reaching out. Here are some helpful areas of our website for you:

    Comment by Amen Clinics — March 14, 2022 @ 6:13 PM

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