My food plan

Your main focus area is improving neurotransmitter function. And when it comes to nutrition, that means focusing on foods that are good for the gut since 95% of total serotonin and about 50% of total dopamine - two major neurotransmitters involved in promoting a feeling of calm, are produced in the gut.

What’s best to eat

Your goal is to eat widely across your (long!) list of recommended foods. Think about “eating the rainbow.” Therapeutic foods (indicated in bold blue) are recommended more than others, but that doesn’t mean you should eat only them. Be diverse and adventurous across your many food choices!

A closer look at what to eat and why

Now that you’ve gotten to know your food list, you can dive into each nutritional category and understand a bit more about how to approach it in your meal planning—and the science behind how it helps you.


Why to eat them:

They help stabilize blood sugar, which is important for brain health. You’ll see this reflected in reduced hunger and cravings.

In terms of specific foods on your list, eggs contain tryptophan which helps create serotonin in the body: helping regulate mood, sleep, memory, and more. Additionally, fatty fishes provide essential fatty acids that regulate neurotransmitters, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy brain function.

Serving size:

Instead of the centerpiece of a meal, think of animal protein as the condiment (2-3 oz). Plants are your key sustenance.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Sardine
  • Eggs
  • Natto
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Soy
  • Turkey
Special tips:
  • When shopping for animal protein (including fish): Look for choices that are lean, free-range, grass-fed, and organically grown. For fish specifically: choose oily ones high in anti-inflammatory fats and low in methylmercury, such as anchovies, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout. (Wild-caught fatty fish—like tuna, salmon, and trout—typically have Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids, which help with sleep by reducing your serotonin levels.)
  • When shopping for eggs: Look for free-range, organic, and pasture-raised.
  • When shopping for plant protein (like natto, tofu, and tempeh): Look for choices labeled non-GMO and organic.


Why to eat them:

They help keep you feeling full! They’re a complex carbohydrate—which means they help keep blood sugar stable and promote that “I’ve eaten enough” feeling. Plus, they’re a good source of vegan or vegetarian protein.

Serving size:

Try for at least one serving a day.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Black soybeans
  • Edamame
Special tips:
  • When shopping: Look for organic and non-GMO.
  • When incorporating them into your diet:Try them in the form of soup, cooked beans, dips, or hummus.

Dairy and alternatives

Why to eat them:

Foods in your plan like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut are rich in probiotics. These probiotics are key in your body’s production of neurotransmitters. In addition, these foods help build a high population of “good bacteria” in your gut: this helps your body produce serotonin, the happy and relaxing hormone that helps relieve symptoms of anxiety.

Serving size:

Limit yourself to 1-2 servings a day.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Soy milk
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
Special tips:
  • When shopping: Look for choices labeled unsweetened and organic.

Nuts and seeds

Why to eat them:

Good news: All nuts and seeds are healthy for the brain (and for your focus of neurotransmitter function). But the nuts and seeds your plan highlights are those that are significant sources of beneficial omega-3 oils or brain-healthy medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Specifically, Brazil nuts provide rich amounts of selenium and Vitamin E, which can improve your mood by reducing inflammation in the body. Almonds provide magnesium, which balances neurotransmitters and supports brain function. Both cashews and pumpkin seeds are good sources of zinc, which can help lower anxiety levels.

Serving size:

Aim for at least 4-6 servings a day. (Note: For Brazil nuts specifically—due to high selenium content—limit yourself to 3-4 nuts a day.)

Therapeutic foods:
  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
Special tips:
  • When shopping: Look for unsweetened, unsalted, and organic.
  • When incorporating them into your diet: Try them on top of cereals, salads, or vegetables—and be sure to incorporate a variety.

Fats and oils

Why to eat them:

Good-quality fats help keep inflammatory processes in balance (which is great news, since fats and oils are so key in cooking techniques—from stovetop to salad prep).

Serving size:

Eat several servings of your therapeutic foods in this category every day.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Avocado
  • Olives (black or green)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
Special tips:
  • When shopping: Look for unrefined, cold-pressed, and non-GMO.
  • When incorporating them into your diet: Try them on top of cereals, salads, or vegetables—and be sure to incorporate a variety.
  • When storing them at home: Be sure to use dark glass containers. (Fats and liquid oils break down in heat, light, and oxygen and become rancid. Smart storage helps combat this! Still, be sure to smell them before using them to ensure their quality.)

Vegetables (Non-Starchy)

Why to eat them:

Non-starchy vegetables, especially leafy greens, are your treasure trove of phytonutrients and antioxidants! In other words, they keep anxiety at bay while nourishing your body and your brain.

(On the other hand, there’s a category of vegetables you should move away from: the starchy ones, like potatoes, corn, peas, and lentils. These vegetables are moderate to high on the glycemic index and tend to impact blood sugar.)

Serving size:

This is your biggest area of focus! Aim for 8-12 servings per day. (Keep in mind: a serving is ½ cup of most cooked vegetables or 1 cup of raw leafy greens.)

For the starchy vegetables you’re trying to avoid: aim for no more than 1 serving per day.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Chard/Swiss chard
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Fermented vegetables
Special tips:
  • Eat the rainbow! While you should go after your therapeutic foods, you should also strive for high variety and color on any given day. That’s easy to achieve with non-starchy vegetables, like red peppers, orange pumpkins, green asparagus, purple cabbage, and white onions. (The list goes on and on.)
  • Focus on leafy greens (like spinach and kale). They’re high in magnesium, which can alleviate symptoms of anxiety.
  • Buy fresh, and seek out organic produce. When purchasing an organic option is not possible, take special care in washing and peeling the vegetable prior to eating.

Vegetables (Starchy)

Why to eat them:

While you should focus the majority of your vegetable intake on the wide rainbow of non-starchy options, your food plan also contains a few starchy options. These are squash (acorn and butternut), plantain, potatoes, parsnips, and rutabaga.

Serving size:

Aim for no more than 1 servings per day

Special tips:
  • Eat starchy vegetables as part of a meal rich in protein and/or fat. This helps prevent the blood sugar spikes that could occur from eating a starchy vegetable alone.


Why to eat them:

The fruits in your food plan are bursting with phytonutrients. Plus, they’re an excellent source of antioxidants that aid in memory and cognition, while reducing inflammation in the body. As a final bonus, they also provide an important way for you to satisfy any sweets cravings!

Serving size:

2-3 servings per day

Therapeutic foods:
  • Blueberries
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Banana
Special tips:
  • Eat the rainbow! While you should go after your therapeutic foods, you should also strive for high variety and color on any given day.
  • Look to blueberries for a good source of flavonoids (which improve brain health while reducing anxiety).
  • Avoid fruit juices—they’re dense with sugar.
  • Try to couple your fruit with a source of protein (like nuts or nut butter), to offset any blood sugar spikes.
  • Buy organic when possible.

Whole grains

Why to eat them:

Whole grains can provide fiber and other phytonutrients that assist with blood sugar stability. However, they’re still packed with carbs, so you should eat them sparingly! Your body can get the wealth of phytonutrients and fiber it needs from your generous fruit and non-starchy vegetable allowance.

Serving size:

Try to eat no more than 1-2 servings per day.

Therapeutic foods:
  • Oats (rolled, steel-cut)
Special tips:
  • Make efforts to replace your grain (carb) cravings with fruit and vegetable substitutes.


Why to drink them:

Healthy beverages (like clean, filtered water, broths, and herbal teas) support all the good food you’re eating—and make you feel even better. Quite simply, by staying hydrated, you rid the body of toxins, build resilience to stress, enhance your metabolism, and promote your satiety (feeling of fullness).

Serving size:

Water: To calculate this, divide your body weight (in pounds) in half. The resulting number is how many ounces of water you should consume each day. (So, for example, if you weigh 160 lbs, you should drink at least 80 oz of water daily.)

Therapeutic foods:
  • Green tea
  • Chamomile tea
Special tips:
  • Water is way up there: Your main source of hydration should be clean, filtered water—but you can also enjoy vegetable and bone broths and cold-pressed vegetable juices.
  • It’s tea time! Green tea increases your body’s production of serotonin and dopamine, resulting in great calming effects. Chamomile tea boasts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties due to its high quantity of flavonoids—all contributing to lowering levels of anxiety. Build decaf tea into your life as a night-time ritual.
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