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Eat Your Way Back to a Happy New Year! Dietitian's Top 5 Mood-Boosting Essentials

New Year

The New Year usually brings a bundle of mixed feelings and emotions. A fresh mindset, extra motivation, but perhaps it also brings some negativity reflecting on the past… how our weight may have changed, and clothes fit differently, or the diet mentality of restriction and not eating foods we enjoy. 

Before you head down that dark hole of saying goodbye to all your favorite foods, what if you focused on truly having a HAPPY New Year by eating more foods that naturally boost your mood and make you feel happier?! 

  1. Beans: Did you know that when your blood sugar is like a roller coaster, it can have a similar effect on your mood? Whether it’s the feelings of anxiety and “hangry”-ness with low blood sugar or the feelings of irritability and tiredness with high blood sugar, help yourself regain control with this superfood for both those with and without diabetes. Beans are a great source of protein, fiber and slowly digested carbohydrates, helping you feel content without the blood sugar spike.
  2. Fermented foods: There is a well-established link between gut health and mental health; the state of our gut microbiome has an impact on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Fermented foods like sauerkraut and Greek yogurt contain probiotics to help support a healthy gut.
  3. Dark chocolate: When you’re craving a treat, dark chocolate is a good choice for its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. When consumed in moderation, dark chocolate can help with mood regulation and contribute to positive feelings. Look for options with 50-90% cacao listed on the label. 
  4. Dark leafy greens: Greens like kale and spinach are a great source of B vitamins and iron, both of which contribute to feelings of energy. They are also high in folate, which is great for cognitive functioning, and magnesium, which can help with symptoms of anxiety. Enjoy leafy greens in sandwiches, wraps, soups and smoothies!
  5. Fatty Fish: Fish like salmon and tuna are a great source of omega-3s, which are healthy fats benefical to both your heart and mind. They reduce inflammation and help the brain function at its best, including mood regulation. Not a fish fan? You can still reap the benefits of omega-3s in plant-based sources like walnuts, chia seeds and flaxseeds.

Don’t Be D-ficient! One Supplement to Consider: New at Hy-Vee, our team of registered dietitians are offering 1,000 FREE vitamin D screenings at over 60 locations during the month of January, courtesy of our sponsor Vitamine Wellness. Low levels of vitamin D may increase risk for infection and depression, as well as decreased bone health. A simple finger stick is all you need to find out your vitamin D level. Visit our Hy-Vee dietitian website to sign up today and check out our wide variety of other nutrition services. If you are looking for more resources on supplements or to find out which supplements will best support your lifestyle, take the FREE, 5-minute quiz, or access the quiz online at for personalized recommendations from our team of dietitians. 

Reduce Food Waste

Leftovers are a great way to use foods in your fridge that otherwise would go to waste. Try to plan one meal per week that involves leftovers.

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