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Boosting Your Winter Mood With Foods

Have you ever noticed your mood dripping during the winter months? Is it something that goes away in the spring or summer? If you haven’t talked with your doctor about it, now would be a great time to bring it up as you may have seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is fairly common during colder, darker months. According to Psychology Today, SAD affects about 10 million Americans each year, with an additional 10-20% of Americans having more mild SAD symptoms. People with personal or family history of depression, as well as live farther from the equator, are more likely to experience symptoms. It can cause negative changes in your energy, sleep, concentration, self-care, self-worth, weight and appetite.

SAD is a mental health condition that should be taken seriously. Having a conversation with your doctor may be hard, but can open the door for help and support. Activities like exercising, getting outside, light therapy, vitamin D supplementation, and mental health counseling can be beneficial. The foods you eat also play a role. Check out the list below for foods that are good for your mental and physical health!

Fermented foods

Examples: sauerkraut, kimchi, plain yogurt, pickles, kefir

Why: These foods are full of good bacteria for your gut. Many of the chemicals that our brain requires to balance our moods are produced in the gut with the help of these bacteria, so replenishing them can improve gut and brain health.

Lower glycemic index Carbohydrates

Examples: Most fruits, leafy greens, low-carbohydrate vegetables, sweet potatoes, bulgur, barely, rolled oats, beans, lentils

Why: Carbohydrates help the body produce serotonin and tryptophan, which can improve mood and boost energy. Lower-glycemic index carbohydrates also help control blood sugar and have more fiber, which helps you feel fuller longer.

Omega 3 fatty foods

Examples: nuts, seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, olives, olive oil, avocados, salmon

Why: Your brain is full of good fats! Research has found a connection between low omega 3 intake and increased risk of depression. They can also help reduce inflammation in your body while adding flavor and texture to your meals.

Lean proteins

Examples: chicken breast, fish filet, 95% lean ground beef, tofu, beans, game meats, eggs, yogurt, cottage cheese

Why: Proteins are made of amino acids, which are required for dopamine, the hormone that impacts mood and pleasure. Protein-rich foods also have micronutrients, like vitamin B12, selenium, iron and zinc, that are necessary for a healthy blood supply to the brain and fuel development.

Overall, these foods are wonderful to have all year round for maintaining healthy weights, happy bellies, and brain chemicals that can impact feelings of depression. Enjoy in different combinations and preparation methods to get nutritional benefits every season!

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