One of the common threads these days among the blogs I read is that many of us are just about up to here with winter and are counting the days/hours/minutes until it’s over. As the progression of gray, dismal days extends, our spirits tumble lower and lower and lower.
And then this happens:
If you haven’t already figured it out, these are NOT the answer. Trust me. I tried Girl Scout Cookie Winter-Blues Therapy for years, and while it provides a temporary boost, it’s not particularly helpful in the overall scheme of things.
That’s not to say there are no foods that will help combat the moody blues. Quite the opposite, in fact, and by following a few eensy, teensy guidelines, we can use food to change that blues-y beat to something much easier (not to mention more fun) to dance to:
Fill up with fruits and veggies – Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, fruits and veggies influence all our bodies’ systems and improve overall energy levels. We just feel better when we eat them. (Seriously. I’m munching on an apple now, and I’m actually humming. In February.)
Boost your Vitamin B12 and folic acid – Known to prevent mood disorders and reduce symptoms of depression, these two nutrients are easy to add to the winter menu. B12 is found in meats, poultry, fish, and dairy. Folic acid is found in greens and beans. Think: leafy green salad topped with grilled chicken and black beans. Or a nice bowl of chili with beans (or taco soup), topped with a smidge of melted cheese. Or how about a spinach omelet? The possibilities are endless.
Seek out selenium – This critical mineral boosts both mood and mental performance. Lucky for us, it’s found in lots of tasty places: beans & legumes, lean meats, dairy, and nuts and seeds. In fact, ONE brazil nut has twice the RDA of selenium. Who knew?
Get your daily dose of Vitamin D – The best source of Vitamin D is the sun, but when it’s in short supply (see: February), we can supplement our diets with cheese, egg yolks, and fatty fishes like tuna, mackerel, and salmon. These are all good sources of Vitamin D and will help fight off those nasty mood swings.
Opt for Omega 3s – Our little fishy friends are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, which reduce the symptoms of depression. Tuna, salmon, herring (ick!), and sardines are good sources of Omega 3s.
Splurge on an itsy bit of chocolate – A small serving of chocolate boosts our brain endorphins and give us a sense of well-being. This is definitely NOT a case in which “if one works, two (or twelve) must be better.” A 1-oz. serving is plenty for these purposes.
So. Those are the foods that we should seek out. It follows naturally that there are foods we’d be better off avoiding or limiting: caffeine, sugar, saturated fat, and alcohol, which have all shown to have negative effects on mood and/or sleep patterns.
In addition to choosing mood-boosting foods, and limiting mood-depleting ones, exercise and proper rest will go a long, long way in improving our mental outlook and enabling us to hang on until warmer weather arrives.
Your turn! Are you pining for Spring? How are you fighting off the winter blues? Do tell. Please.
For now, I’m off to boost my mood with a trip to the hair stylist!