5 Mood-Boosting Bedtime Snacks That’ll Help You Wake Up Happier Tomorrow

Photo: Stocksy/Jill Chen
When you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, you probably don't immediately think back to what you ate the night before. Maybe you blame your midnight tossing and turning, your bleating alarm, or a lengthy to-do list for your sour mood. And while it's true that it's hard to pin a bad morning mood on any one factor alone, dietitians Stacie Hassing, RDN, and Jessica Beacom, RDN, authors of The Real Food Table (available March 8), say that there are a few mood-boosting bedtime snacks you can add to your recipe repertoire that will help you wake up on the right side of the metaphorical bed.

Experts In This Article
  • Jessica Beacom, RDN, Jessica is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist living in Boulder, CO with her husband and two daughters.
  • Stacie Hassing RDN, LD, Stacie is a Licensed and Registered Dietitian from rural southern Minnesota where she, her husband and daughter reside with their two pups.

Surprise, surprise: There is no one food that helps you wake up walking on sunshine. (Otherwise, we'd all already be eating it, right?)"We don’t believe that any one single food is going to boost your mood, but rather that a well-rounded diet based on whole foods that provides a wide range of nutrients is your best bet," says Beacom.

To help you consume those diverse nutrients, Beacom and Hassing shared five different foods with us that will satisfy your tastebuds no matter what you're (no pun intended) in the mood to eat, including a peanut butter fruit dip recipe from their new cookbook. Keep scrolling to learn more about what happiness-boosting bedtime snacks will help you see the morning through more rose-colored glasses.

5 happiness-boosting bedtime snacks to help you wake up on the right side of the bed

1. Nuts and seeds

"Nuts and seeds are great sources of tryptophan, an amino acid your body uses to produce the mood-boosting hormone serotonin," says Beacom. "Almonds, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds are some of our favorites for adding healthy fats and fiber to meals and snacks." If you don't like eating nuts all by themselves, try spreading nut butter on celery, banana, or greek yogurt for a more robust snack.

2. Dark chocolate

If dark chocolate doesn't put you in a good mood, I don't know what will, my friend. According to Hassing, it's not just the flavor of chocolate that will lift your spirits; it also contains a high quantity of joy-inducing compounds. "Dark chocolate contains a variety of feel-good compounds like caffeine and theobromine is also high in flavonoids that may help to improve your mood. And who doesn’t love the taste of rich, dark chocolate? That alone has the potential to boost one's mood," says Hassing.

Enjoy your dark chocolate in a delicious dessert, all by itself, or—for even more mood-boosting benefits—shmeared with a spoonful of nut butter.

You can also make your own dreamy dark chocolate with just a few ingredients:

3. Fermented foods

Fermented foods are great for your gut, and thus, may also benefit your brain and boost your mood . "Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha are naturally rich in probiotics which support a healthy gut microbiome and may increase serotonin production," Hassing says. If you're struggling to add sauerkraut to your meals, try adding it to your salads or even breakfast foods—like savory chia pudding—which you can always enjoy as a bedtime snack. You can also blend up a smoothie by combining yogurt or kefir with frozen berries and a scoop of peanut butter for the ultimate mood-boosting bedtime snack.

4. Berries

Petition to make berries in bed a Thing. "Berries contain high levels of phytochemicals that can reduce oxidative stress in the body. Anthocyanins, compounds responsible for the dark blue-purple color of blueberries and blackberries, have been found to lower your risk of depression," says Hassing. Combine your berries with plant-based whipped cream or chocolate syrup for an extra delicious treat.

Peanut butter fruit dip recipe from The Real Food Table cookbook

Serves 4

1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Optional toppings: chopped peanuts and a dusting of ground cinnamon

1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir to mix well.

2. Serve with your desired toppings and fruit, pretzels, and/or graham crackers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days.

Excerpted From the Real Food Dietitians: The Real Food Table. Copyright © 2022 by Simply Nourished, LLC. Reproduced by Permission of Simon Element, an Imprint of Simon and Schuster. All Rights Reserved.

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