Raise your hand if you’re a fan of the biting cold, dirty snow, and the lack of sunshine in the Winter? 🙌 Just me? Oh..ok.
I’m a big fan of the Winter because I choose to make the most of the chilly weather by being outdoors as much as possible. But, it’s no joke that SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) can take its toll on our mental health. Fall has cooled the city, leaves are falling and the days are definitely getting shorter. SAD doesn’t only appear in the Winter–it can start as early as the Fall season. Aside from our seasonal preferences, the lack of sunshine can actually have an effect on our mood! As Canadian🇨🇦 dwellers, this is a struggle we know all too well.
That’s why I’ve got the top 4 ways to boost your mood with nutrition below!
Vitamin D Foods
Studies have shown that there are vitamin D receptor sites in the brain that correlate with depression. When vitamin D attaches to these receptor sites, neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, our happiness and motivation/reward-motivated behaviour neurotransmitters are released! Sunshine is important for vitamin D synthesis in the body. When the sun’s rays touch the skin, the cholesterol in the skin gets turned into vitamin D in the liver. Thankfully, there are foods we can eat to boost our immunity and mood that are rich in vitamin D and other mood-boosting nutrients.Some foods that are great sources of vitamin D are small fish like anchovies, mackerel, fatty fish like salmon and tuna, shiitake mushrooms, eggs, and raw milk. However, sunshine is the easiest and best way to get our vitamin D intake, so taking regular vacations during the Winter and spending some time outside on the rare chance the sun is shining is best.
Foods high in the amino acid tryptophan, will help with serotonin production, the neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and helps prevent depression. Also, if you tend to have trouble sleeping, tryptophan also turns into melatonin which promotes sleepiness. Tryptophan can be found in turkey, spirulina, beans, legumes, bananas, wild caught fish, pastured beef. Eat up that serotonin!
Balanced Blood Sugar
Did you know that having imbalanced blood sugar can have an effect on your mood and not just on blood sugar related diseases? Eating refined foods can spike your blood sugar, which can give you a temporary feeling of happiness. However, with every sugar high, comes the sugar crash, which can leave you feeling sad and tired. The trick? Eat foods that are high in fibre, fat and protein so that you can keep your blood sugar balanced, and in turn, your mood balanced. Stay away from refined foods like white bread, white flour, white sugar, etc. These will not add any benefit to your diet! To start, consider incorporating healthy fats like avocados, coconut butter, almond butter and olives. Yummm!
Bright, Colourful Foods
If you find joy in bright, colourful foods–eat them! Brightly coloured foods can remind us of warmer weather when the produce is brighter and cheerier, unlike the winter lineup of root vegetables which are less vibrant! Eating brightly coloured fruits and vegetables is especially good for you because you expose yourself to different kinds of phytonutrients, which can also be good for the mood. Experiment with cooking with different pigments to cheer up your plates. Make a beet hummus to experience hot pink hues; incorporate blue majik, an extract of spirulina, to add bright blue and turquoise hues to your smoothies. Buy frozen fruits like strawberries, blueberries, mango and pineapple and add them to smoothies, oatmeal or desserts.
If you have other ways you like to boost your mood through nutrition, please be sure to share below, or send me a message!