Food that improves mood when you give up alcohol

When you give up alcohol or cut back you can go through a change in your mind and your overall system and that is perfectly natural. So why not look out for food that improves mood.

In my blog I already talk about getting a new leisure pursuit but what about lifting our spirits food wise but not the alcohol type clearly !

You may get actually get a craving especially sugar or you just miss that buzz that alcohol supposedly gives you. Its now gone but you are looking to replace it.

A word of warning though!

Firstly, it is never good to replace one bad habit with another. It’s always good to look and deal with the cause rather than the symptom. The good news is we need food and liquid so we may as well as consume some that makes us feel good.

What do you reckon?

Improving your mood with good food is natural and no bad thing which is why we seek out food that improves mood especially when you give up alcohol.

Your body need goodness after all these chemical changes and its good to remember alcohol is a poison! Why do you think it is used to sterilize things?

Alcohol is Used to Sterilize

Here are a few thoughts, options and choices with some science behind them for a change!


Science has known for many years that coffee is a stimulant. It can also be a dangerous one if you have too much caffeine and also can keep you awake at night.

I have known for many years that coffee stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

Dopamine produces that buzz or feeling that many of us get first thing in the morning with that get up and go feeling when someone gets some coffee in!

Then we are ready for the day ahead.

Not ideal if you want to rest but that is what coffee does when you need some get up and go and move your backside to work. Its tough love but sometimes we need it.

Coffee Can Help Your Mood

There is also much evidence from the NHS and British Liver Trust that it is good for the liver so there are even more reasons to drink it!

Coffee and the caffeine in it keeps you awake according to Neuro Scientists because it is technically a psychoactive drug.

It’s a stimulant and without going mad over the details it blocks something known as adenosine in our systems which kicks in when we need to sleep.

So receptors stop attaching itself to it and therefore we are buzzing. Its shuts off an electric circuit if you like.

Of course no-one can go on forever like that. In fact, I once had the shakes ( and no nothing to do with alcohol) but I was consuming protein bars with high levels of caffeine for my gym trip combined with lots of coffee.

My doctor told me in no uncertain terms to cut back.

There was also a study in Newcastle UK to test caffeine and the participants were given the wrong dose and ended up in a serious condition in hospital. That’s extreme but like any buzz take it with care and don’t go mad!

So yes if you are cutting back on alcohol or looking after your liver, coffee is ideal just watch the amount you end up drinking.

That include some exercise protein bars as well but we are only talking coffee here to be clear.

But yes get drinking coffee to lift your mood and help your liver is an option worth considering !

Dark chocolate

Now you might not think chocolate would be good to have after cutting back or giving up alcohol. But I have news! A cube of square of dark chocolate (and I’m talking about a cube here) can be really good for you.

You are after the really dark chocolate with the highest concentration of cocoa beans.

Dark Chocolate Can Improve Your Mood

So let’s get back to the science here and to be honest this is very similar to coffee so you will be well-educated on Neuro Science after this. Well kind of!

Let’s name 4 chemicals that make us feel good and are in dark chocolate. The names are complicated but the effects are easy to understand.

  • Trimethylxanthine otherwise caffeine as I like to call it. So again we are in coffee territory here. We have talked about It working by counteracting the natural substance called adenosine. So we increase our awareness when we feel a bit sleepy.
  • Theobromine. This goes well with caffeine to maximize our “good” energy. It makes sense now about using the term “chocolate fix”. And why we don’t stop always stop at eating just one cube of dark chocolate. We get a nice feeling!
  • Tryptophan. This is an amino acid and although the quantities in chocolate are small it is used by the brain to make serotonin which can increase the level of happiness. That’s nice!
  • Phenylethylalanine. This has been linked to attraction and excitement and some research says the feeling of “love”. Perhaps this explains why the Greeks and Roman used it in mating and why it is still connected with Valentine’s Day .

However please be aware that too many cubes’ means an inch on the hips. With all the antioxidants packed in dark chocolate always aim for the highest percentage of cocoa powder you can get but restrict it to a treat! That’s the rule.

There is no point cutting back on alcohol only to increase your weight, make you depressed and be at risk of other diseases such as diabetes.

My affiliate link for a very nice dark chocolate hamper is below and you always play the same price. There is some seriously good dark chocolate in there.




So as with everything it is all about balance.

One cube for me and I save the rest in the fridge! That way there are cubes’ for the rest of the week!


Now probiotics are the new thing even on the shelves of the local food store. They claim that they can improve our gut health and there is a skepticism as there should be.

However, we all know that excessive alcohol can really upset our stomach so maybe this is a new balance that we need whether you’re cutting it out completely or just cutting back.

Either is a great step forward and know your limits at drink aware

Probiotic Yogurt

There is some evidence linked to yogurt and our mood though.

So can this so-called miracle “healthy” bacteria in yogurt improve how we feel?

Well there was some research!

I love Neuro Science so I was interested in the information that came out of the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition in the Netherlands as part of my therapy training.

They claim that the probiotics found in specific yogurts could help in the battle when we are feeling anxious.

The sample was small but it involved 40 healthy adults who were overall balanced and not overly anxious. I wish I had friends like that! Fifty per cent of the testers were given a strong probiotic supplement every 4 weeks.

As with these tests the other half were given a placebo so effectively what they call a sugar pill. So it is a way to balance out the test and compare and contrast the results.

The subjects who consumed the probiotic additions felt better equipped when they felt sad and were better placed to deal with setbacks than the group who did not have the probiotic.

Food and setbacks

Now the sample is small but it’s worth a read in the Journal of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Again the conclusion of why was eventually inconclusive but it highlighted less inflammation and again said it helped with the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

I guess both would help our mood.

It seems serotonin and our mood is key when it comes to the brain and looking for a way to feel good without alcohol. Remember alcohol is a depressant.

Oh and a poison did I mentioned that?


I was never a massive fan of salmon but since giving up alcohol I really appreciate the taste and even smoked salmon tastes great especially as a bit of a lunchtime treat.

But why does it make us feel good and why does it taste better after alcohol? The reason is twofold: one it is clean food and generally fresh and the second is the way it reacts to our brain function.

Salmon is good for our mood

So science has long noted that the so-called omega-3 fatty acids (so that a good fat in salmon ) can help create a good feeling.

It’s ultimately down to serotonin levels in our brain and contributes to our nervous health.

What is serotonin?

Actually it’s pretty amazing really how there are always complications if it’s too high or too low. It’s like anything really, it’s all about balance!

It does play a massive role in our overall mood and feelings day to day. This is why salmon can contribute to us feeling good about ourselves.

It’s a hormone that can help balance mood, feelings and of course eventually our level of how happy we feel. Its impact is felt across our whole body as it impacts how our brain communicates to the rest of our internal system.

As they say the mind and body are one system.


Foods that make your feel good

Serotonin is linked to how we sleep which is so important for the immune system as well as our digestion after a good meal.

Read does milk help us to sleep ?

Too little of the stuff especially if you are feeling the pressure of not drinking alcohol can lead if we are not careful to certain forms of depression. Too much of it and our nervous system gets over stimulated leading to anxiety.

So you can see why salmon plays an important role in making us feel OK.

Salmon also has a good dose of the B vitamin which can help the way our brain functions and tackle stress.

If you are cutting down on alcohol or giving up it up all together these things are important.

For many people having a big glass of wine is very often because of high stress levels so our mental health and alcohol are closely linked in many ways.

Salmon in moderation of course gets the thumbs of from me.

Alcohol Free Choices

There is no doubt that excessive alcohol can lead to a good social aspect of mental health, enjoying a social circle and everything that goes with that.

However, research has shown time and time again continual drinking can cause not only mental harm to our brain but anxiety, dehydration and mask any causes of stress that we might be going through.

Alcohol Free Drinks

I am a big champion of them particularly where they have added the benefit of antioxidants which can include grapes and give us something to have when we are out with friends or colleagues.

It really can take the pressure off so we end up feeling like we have had a night out rather than feeling hamstrung by the sometimes toxic alcohol fueled atmosphere.

If you can go for the lower calories option as well it can be a bonus. Also, if we are not drinking alcohol we avoid the hangover and the sugar crashes which make us eat the type of food that lowers our mood.

And the cycle begins!

Remember High carbs start off well but they are followed by a sugar crash which can lead to a massive drop in mood.

My review of a few recommendations are below

My top choice is Seedlip Gin Alcohol free which is a great quality drink and again full of the good stuff. Fab for calories as well.

Plus I am a big fan of bubbles and fizz to increase our mood. Alcohol Free Sparkling Wine with Kombucha is a top drink.

So Food is crucial if you are reducing your alcohol.

Food is crucial to our mood and hopefully helps with that transition from full on alcohol to either a reduced alcohol intake or giving up completely!

It can help lift our mood and stop cravings and going alcohol free could really help. I would love to know what you think about food that improves mood. Leave a comment below and what works for you and I always respond.



4 thoughts on “Food that improves mood”

  1. I get that cutting back on alcohol means that you have to replace it with something else but it can be very easy to loose track and replace one bad habit with another. It needs a lot of self control and a lot of people just don’t have this, that’s why we see so many people trying to change these bad habits but in the end all they manage to do is to return once again from where they started.

    • Hey there Stratos, thanks so much for this spot on comment, Replacing a bad habit with another never really works and that is very often true of alcohol. I think change can actually be quick but it needs to be aimed at the cause not the symptom.

      I do think more drinks choice that is alcohol free is a good starting point as it gives us choice. I really enjoyed reading your comment and thanks so much for stopping by! All the best, Phil

  2. Thanks for writing this article. I have fortunately not had to deal with alcohol addictions but I know many people out there suffering from this. It’s wonderful that you are writing of ways for people to cope and outlets to deal with there addiction.

    I hope others find your website and are able to use it to better themselves and fix there alcohol addictions!

    • Hi There Samuel that is very much appreciated and of course a bit of humour always helps!  I really appreciated you stopping by and reading the article on food that improves mood. How we feel is key to our well being. All the best, Phil


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