Want to feel happier? Eat fruits and vegetables / Play Every Day Update


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Want to feel happier? Eat fruits and vegetables.

You expected to read “healthier” there, but eating fruits and veggies also improves your mood, mind, and brain


MARCH 27, 2024 — Most of us are used to hearing that healthy eating leads to a healthy body.


It turns out the same food choices that grow a healthy body also lead to a healthy mind and brain. Eating more fruits and veggies can increase happiness. This boost to your mood can be felt sooner than the benefits you’ll feel in your body.



To loose weight and feel better, Lori fills half her plate with salad to eat more vegatables.

Great news for everyone: The more fruits and veggies you eat, the happier you may feel. A study of food diaries of 12,385 randomly chosen participants showed that people had more feeling of happiness, life satisfaction, and well-being as their daily servings of fruit and vegetables increased.


Parents with kids in child care or school: Healthy foods and beverages can help improve your child’s ability to think, pay attention, and remember what they learned.


Adults looking forward to their older years: Choosing healthier eating over time may help reduce your chances of developing many chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and many cancers. It also can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Dementia is the term for a variety of conditions that cause memory loss and reduced ability to think and solve problems.


“There are many different ways that healthy foods help our brains,” said Diane Peck, registered dietitian with the Alaska Department of Health. “Eating a variety of healthy foods can help you feel better, improve mental health, and prevent brain diseases in years to come. That means choosing fish, lean meats, and plant proteins. It’s eating whole grains, low- and fat-free dairy, nuts and seeds, and yes, lots of fruits and vegetables.”


Small changes in what you eat can reap big health rewards

Eating healthier doesn’t mean completely changing what you currently eat and drink. You might switch out a soda, vitamin drink or other sugary drink for plain water or unsweetened coffee. You could add an extra serving of vegetables at dinner or choose a salad instead of French fries. Small changes can make a big difference in your health.



Joseph, who's lost more than 100 lbs, buys frozen berries & bananas for lunch, and snacks on carrots & celery.

After years of not feeling great, Joseph of Palmer started making simple changes to his meals. He bought frozen strawberries and bananas for lunch. He snacked on carrots and celery. Joseph said he lost more than 100 pounds and improved his blood sugar levels and blood pressure by making these healthy choices through Alaska’s free Fresh Start programs. There’s more about Alaska’s Fresh Start programs in the next section.


Lori, who has a fish camp in Council, wanted to lose weight to feel better. She started working with a coach through Fresh Start. Through the program, she learned to start dinner by filling half of her plate with salad or vegetables. It can be hard to get fresh fruits and vegetables in Alaska, but frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can all be healthy choices.


Join Alaska’s Fresh Start programs to meet health goals

Changing the way you and your family eat can be challenging. As with most new behaviors, healthy eating takes practice.


Looking for support to choose healthier foods and drinks? Alaska’s Fresh Start campaign at freshstart.alaska.gov offers free programs that support healthy eating. Many programs match you with a coach. This coach can share ways to eat more fruits and vegetables and improve nutrition. A supportive group of other participants can provide encouragement and ideas that have worked for them.


Alaska’s Fresh Start programs offer free support and tools to meet many health goals. Tools depend on the program. They could include body weight scales, blood sugar monitors, blood pressure cuffs or nicotine replacement therapy. During the past year, more than 4,000 Alaska adults signed up for Fresh Start programs to feel better. Alaska adults can visit the Fresh Start website and see if they’re eligible to join free, flexible programs to:

  • lose weight or prevent diabetes
  • lower blood sugar to manage diabetes
  • lower blood pressure
  • stop smoking, vaping or chewing tobacco
  • be active with their children

Share Play Every Day messages to improve your family’s drinks and foods

Alaska families can start early to serve foods and drinks that improve kids’ bodies and minds. Share Alaska’s Play Every Day messages that help families spot healthier options without added sugar. These messages promote:

Play Every Day ad for WIC with illustrations of canned corn, carrots, and frozen peas: Pick fresh, frozen or canned!