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Foods to Support Your Mood - eating mindfully this holiday season

One of the many reasons I love learning more and more about the power of food and nutrition is that it goes beyond the surface level of supporting your digestion, weight management, and blood sugar regulation. But it actually plays a huge role in your mood! What you eat can directly support (or harm) how you feel. It's all connected and it can drive your mood to be impacted.

And as we head into the end of the year, during the holiday season we want to be able to enjoy the festivities, time with family and friends, and the disconnect from work. So try adding some of these foods into your rotation to help you and your loved ones have a happier and healthier holiday!

  • Cinnamon - this classic spice is rich in polyphenols (an antioxidant) and can help support healthy brain tissue and mental health. I also love cinnamon because it is going to be supportive of balancing your blood sugar which we already know is key to hormone regulation and a cascade of events. But it is great to add to cooking and beverages, especially in the cooler months since it is a warming spice. Try adding a dash into your coffee/matcha, protein oat bowls, or on top of some sautéed apples for a fiber-rich dessert. Check out my homemade apple crisp recipe for an easy at-home dessert this winter.

  • Chia Seeds - these tiny seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which are great in helping support mood, especially when combined with magnesium to reduce stress and anxiety. Chia seeds are great to throw into yogurt bowls for breakfast or snacks, make a gingerbread chia seed pudding, or throw into your holiday baked goods. Not to mention the added benefits of fiber support your gut and digestion which also leave you feeling good if you know what I mean!

  • Salmon - Another food rich in omega-3s which are going to benefit your mood and help fight any inflammation in the body and brain. Your brain is 60% fat so having quality sources of omega-3 fatty foods is going to be key to daily mood and brain health. Try adding salmon to your meals with a spicy salmon bowl, salmon tacos, or grab some sushi.

  • Leafy Greens - Kale and spinach are the two most commonly consumed greens in my house and for good reason. They are rich in B vitamins which play a vital role in energy levels, brain function, immunity, digestion, and hormone production.. shall I go on? Try adding a kale caesar salad to the menu or sautéed spinach for an easy way to add color and balance to your holiday meals. Or even easier - start your day with some frozen greens added to your PFF smoothie, your tastebuds won’t even notice they are in there I promise! This Shamrock shake has hidden spinach in it that you can not taste one bit.

  • Green Beans - These are packed with vitamin c and vitamin a, which are great to help with reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. But are also a great source of manganese which helps support your nervous system and a healthy stress response. Try adding green beans to your dinner bowls or holiday sides - my favorite is sautéing them with some salt, pepper, and garlic or roasting them in the oven.

  • Dark Chocolate - Yes, I’m sure you were wondering when there would be a fun one in here. Dark chocolate is rich in cacao which is another antioxidant that can help to reduce inflammation and support mood. This is due to it containing serotonin (say hello to your happy hormone). Be mindful to watch out for added sugar and other ingredients though, the higher the quality of dark chocolate the better, looking for it to be ideally 80% cacao. You can add this into yogurt bowls for a creamy dessert, topping some cacao nibs on your smoothies for breakfast, or melting some dark chocolate to dip your strawberries or other favorite fruits into.

I’m a strong believer in the power of fueling your body but also your soul so remember this isn’t about being “good” or restrictive and cutting out any “junk food” or indulgences this holiday season. Instead, be mindful of what you are consuming, how much, and how it makes you feel, and be intentional with your food choices so you can feel your best and enjoy the rest of the year!

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