© 2014 The Authors. Mood is widely assessed in nutrition research, usually with rating scales. A core assumption is that positive mood reinforces ingestion, so it is important to measure mood well. Four relevant theoretical issues are reviewed: (i) the distinction between protracted and transient mood; (ii) the distinction between mood and emotion; (iii) the phenomenology of mood as an unstable tint to consciousness rather than a distinct state of consciousness; (iv) moods can be caused by social and cognitive processes as well as physiological ones. Consequently, mood is difficult to measure and mood rating is easily influenced by non-nutritive aspects of feeding, the psychological, social and physical environment where feeding occurs, and the nature of the rating system employed. Some of the difficulties are illustrated by reviewing experiments looking at the impact of food on mood. The mood-rating systems in common use in nutrition research are then reviewed, the requirements of a better mood-rating system are described, and guidelines are provided for a considered choice of mood-rating system including that assessment should: have two main dimensions; be brief; balance simplicity and comprehensiveness; be easy to use repeatedly. Also mood should be assessed only under conditions where cognitive biases have been considered and controlled.