What We Eat Impacts Our Mood

Published on : 3/14/22
    • Name: Negin Basiri
    • Title: Registered dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator  
    • Segment: Healthcare and Senior Living
    • Location: Great Toronto Area 
    • How many years have you been a dietitian? Over 9 years.  


    Interviewer: Focus of your career?

    Negin: After finishing my master’s degree in nutritional sciences, I started working as a clinical dietitian in different healthcare settings for nutritional management of chronic diseases. Over the last 2 years, my main role has been working as a dietitian for seniors living in retirement/long-term care homes. I am also a Certified Diabetes Educator and proving nutrition counseling for diabetes management.  

    Interviewer: How has your role shifted to assist people with their diet and nutritional needs during the pandemic?     

    Negin: We have lived in a difficult time. The pandemic has changed our exposure to life for everyone in their field and I am no exception. As a person who is mostly in contact with elderly people, with higher risks of severe illnesses and mortality, it somehow changed my relationship with them. It demanded more caution in my contact and at the same time, more attention in deciding what to include in their diet. They already had their restrictions and the COVID-19 added more.  

    From another perspective, I believe the pandemic has provided us with a sense of mutuality and commonness with those whose lives, due to different reasons, are restricted in some way. We were forced to experience that limitation. I think that was a gift for us to have a better understanding of those who need to have a compromised way of living.  

    Interviewer: What do you enjoy most about your career in terms of improving quality of life through nutrition?

    Negin: In today’s world, people are bombarded with lots of misinformed claims regarding nutrition, which could be frustrating sometimes. I really enjoy helping individuals with evidence-based, unbiased information to reach their goals.  

    Interviewer: How do you define healthy eating?

    Negin: Eating a well-balanced diet in a way that values pleasure, autonomy and individual values. Healthy eating is not a trade-off between making healthy food choices and enjoying your favourite food, a lifestyle in which individuals make more sustainable changes to reach their health goals.  

    Interviewer: Do you have any wellness/nutrition tips you would like to share?

    Negin: What we eat impacts our mood, the neurotransmitters like serotonin, also known as “happy hormones” promote positive feelings like pleasure and happiness. The building block needed to create this hormone in our body is an amino acid called Tryptophan, this amino acid cannot be made in our body, and we need to get it from protein-rich foods sources such as fish, milk, soy products, poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and spinach.  

    Surprisingly, 90% of the serotonin is produced in our gut, having a healthy gut microbiome is essential, try to incorporate more probiotic foods like kefir, kimchi, yogurt, along with Prebiotic foods, the food for probiotic, like banana, asparagus, onions, artichoke, garlic, chickpea, garlic.  

    Interviewer: What nutritional recipe would you recommend? 

    Negin: Synbiotic is a combination of probiotics (good bacteria) and prebiotics (the food that helps probiotics grow). Here is a simple recipe good source of protein and omega 3 to improve mood:  

    • ¾ cup yogurt with live culture, if you are vegan, go for coconut yogurt with live bacterial cultures;
    • top it up with ½ banana and ½ cup walnuts;
    • you may add drizzles of honey/maple syrup, and/or cacao powder/cinnamon for taste.  


    Interviewer: What are some misconceptions about healthy eating?

    Negin: Nowadays, people tend to blame carbohydrates for most of their health issues such that, “low- carb” diets are interchangeably used as a healthy diet. Carbohydrates are a good source of energy, packed with nutrients, fiber, etc. Although low-carb diets are recommended for certain health conditions, you do not necessarily have to give up on your favourite foods like rice, pasta, or fruits to eat healthy. Focus on the amount and types of carbohydrates you eat rather than eliminating them completely. For personalized advice and a full nutrition assessment, consult with your doctor or registered dietitian.