Nutritional psychiatrist Uma Naidoo, MD, shares what she eats on a typical day to naturally enhance psychological well being.

Have you ever questioned methods to eat to enhance your temper and psychological well being? I’m Uma Naidoo, MD, a Harvard-trained dietary psychiatrist, chef, and Director of Nutritional and Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Food Diary of Nutritional Psychiatrist Dr. Uma Naidoo

Here’s my private meals diary for a typical Bostonian day.


After I get up and do my morning meditation, I often have a cup of golden milk with contemporary ginger earlier than I begin my day. It’s been a convention I shared with my grandmother since childhood.

It helps me floor myself, set my intentions for the day, and begin off with the best mindset.

Chia pudding breakfast with yogurt and blueberries


Having a wholesome and nutritious breakfast is essential to me and for psychological well-being. In truth, analysis reveals beginning your day with a breakfast filled with vitamins, fiber, protein, and wholesome fat is essential to spice up your temper and scale back stress.

My go-to breakfast is a creamy chia pudding, which I put together with almond milk the night time earlier than to make my morning routine simpler. In the morning, I high it with plain coconut yogurt, crushed hazelnuts, and a handful of blueberries.

Tip: Blueberries are most likely considered one of my favourite fruits. Research reveals that blueberries can doubtlessly improve serotonin ranges (generally generally known as the happiness hormone) within the mind and scale back irritation attributable to free radicals. And who doesn’t wish to get up to a great temper?

Also, fermented meals are extremely helpful in your intestine, thus making them an excellent meals for psychological well being. I significantly suggest:

  • plain coconut or greek yogurt with stay lively cultures
  • kimchi
  • tempeh


You’ve most likely heard about heavy winters in Boston and NYC. The chilly, grey, and principally snowy months make it troublesome to get the required RDA of vitamin D your physique and mind want.

I attempt to get all of my vitamins from entire meals and a assorted, wealthy weight loss plan. However, there are some occasions once we all want some additional assist—with wintertime amongst them.

I typically take HUM’s vegan vitamin D complement, Here Comes the Sun. Its clear components offers me an excellent temper and immune system enhance when my physique wants it most.

Mixed salad with fiber and plant protein


In the morning, I’m often doing medical work, on a radio interview, or recording a podcast. Every day appears to be like utterly completely different, however my lunch is commonly the identical.

On the weekend, I save a while for just a few hours of meals prep, which I firmly consider helps to plan out more healthy choices throughout the week.

I lower contemporary veggies and chop quite a lot of greens. I often attempt to have an enormous colourful salad with as many contemporary greens (and a few leftover roasted greens) added. It’s a celebration of coloration on my plate and fulfills considered one of my pillars in dietary psychiatry: Eat the rainbow.

My typical salad will encompass:

  • a mixture of leafy greens (spinach, romaine, and arugula are my favorites)
  • sliced radish
  • cucumbers
  • cherry tomatoes
  • pink cabbage
  • pink onion
  • contemporary cilantro
  • cooked chickpeas, quinoa, or tempeh (for protein)
  • pumpkin seeds

This combined salad is a good choice to ensure I’m getting all of the vitamins my physique wants whereas being a straightforward to-go lunch for after I work on the hospital. Plus, it gives a real fiber feast for mind well being.

Tip: As far as stress goes, fiber is your pal! Dietary fiber promotes the expansion of “good” intestine micro organism. As I say, a contented intestine means a contented temper.

The greatest sources of fiber embrace:

  • entire fruits + greens
  • beans
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • lentils
  • wholesome entire grains

Afternoon Snack

You know the way your vitality plummets round 4 p.m.? Well, I really feel the identical method.

Instead of reaching for a fast sugar hit from a pastry or donut, my favourite snack is a handful of roasted nuts, which I put together in a batch beforehand.

I roast them with some avocado oil and use spices like:

  • turmeric (with a pinch of pepper)
  • paprika
  • powdered garlic
  • Himalayan salt

This wholesome snack is filled with fiber, wholesome omega-3s, and magnesium.

Tip: Magnesium can ease stress responses by altering ranges of dangerous stress chemical compounds within the mind.

You can get your magnesium repair in:

  • chickpeas
  • darkish chocolate
  • pumpkin seeds
  • almonds
  • avocado

Cauliflower Tikka Masala cooked by nutritional psychiatrist Uma Naidoo, MD


Some individuals like to interrupt the work day with Scotch, however cooking is my go-to! Cooking has at all times been considered one of my best pleasures, and a simple method for me to get inventive and disconnect from day by day work stress.

For a typical weekday dinner, I’ll make vegetable curry or cauliflower tikka masala with brown rice, sautéed broccoli, spinach, and/or Brussels sprouts. I additionally love a fusion of Tuscan bean stew with spinach, additional veggies, and spices like turmeric with black pepper.

After an extended day at work, I like having one thing heat at night time that’s filled with therapeutic spices and vitamins that assist battle irritation and set me in the best temper to de-stress and end the day.

After all, we now know irritation is the number-one reason for main psychological well being circumstances. As I at all times say, intestine irritation is mind irritation.

Tip: Turmeric is my go-to anti-stress meals. Curcumin, its lively ingredient, improves temper, decreases stress, and adjustments the corresponding mind chemistry by defending the hippocampus since stress can deactivate it.

I add turmeric to smoothies, salads, soups, and even tea—at all times including a pinch of black pepper to make it extra bioavailable.


I cherished pastries and baking with my household after I was a toddler. But now, after studying in regards to the impression sugar has on mind and psychological well being, I attempt to restrict my consumption.

One of my newest favourite mind meals desserts is a creamy darkish chocolate avocado mousse. My recipe has solely has 4 components and is tremendous straightforward to organize!

If I’ve an additional worrying day, I additionally wish to have a chamomile tea proper earlier than going to mattress.

The Bottom Line

Every day, I attempt to ensure my weight loss plan has as many various colours as potential to maximise the vary of vitamins I’m ingesting. They’re all helpful in a cumulative method for my mind and total well being.

I additionally make sure that I take a while off after I’m consuming. I discover that aware consuming and being current with my physique throughout meals improves taste and ranges of satisfaction within the mind.

You can discover all of the meals to enhance your temper, vitality, sleep, and different psychological well being circumstances plus brain-food recipes in Dr. Uma Naidoo’s e book, This Is Your Brain on Food. She additionally shares the most recent science within the area of dietary psychiatry on her Instagram account.