Many of us find it hard to focus during winter. If you find that your mood gets worse as the temperature drops, you may have seasonal affective disorder or winter depression. Some signs of winter depression include feeling sleepy and tired throughout the day, losing interest in social activities and wanting sugary food.
While it is tempting to reach for a sweet quick fix, what we eat affects our mood and energy levels.
Here’s a list of mood-boosting food that can help you fight the winter blues and put a smile on your face.
It’s true – chocolate really can make us happy. It causes the brain to release endorphins – hormones also known as the “bliss chemical” that reduce feelings of pain or stress, and can help us to relax.
However, you will benefit more from eating dark chocolate than milk or plain, so choose types that contain at least 70 per cent cocoa.
Ways to eat it: Add to smoothies, milkshakes, and cereal, drizzle over roasted cauliflower, or use for dipping strawberries.
Eggs are packed with amino acids, vitamins D and B12, and minerals like zinc and magnesium that help reduce stress. They are also high in protein, which is released slowly, keeping you fuller for longer, and is important for keeping blood sugar levels stable, so you don’t get spikes or drops in energy.
In addition, eggs are rich in choline – a nutrient that supports the nervous system and improves mood.
Ways to eat them: Make an egg burrito, a quiche, fry it with spinach and tomato, eat an omelette, or (if you’re feeling fancy) make devilled eggs.
Oats contain magnesium, which helps fight tiredness and stress. If you aren’t getting enough magnesium, you may feel angry or have trouble sleeping.
Oats are a source of complex carbohydrates. Our body takes a longer time to break down complex carbohydrates as compared to refined carbohydrate such as white flour, and this helps to maintain healthy production of serotonin, also known as the “happy chemical”.
Ways to eat them: Add them to baked goods and smoothies, soak them overnight for an on-the-go snack, use it as a topping, or make your own granola.
The cure to winter blues could be a handful of Brazil nuts. They are one of the best sources of selenium, a mineral which can help to boost your mood.
Studies have shown that people who lack selenium tend to be more bad-tempered and are more likely to feel restless. So, be sure to pack some of these mood-lifting nuts when you’re on the go.
Ways to eat them: Use them as toppings on salads, add to your veggie stir-fry, or throw some into your hiking trail mix.
Berries contain antioxidants – substances that protect healthy cells – which are known to boost brain function and support the nervous system. They are also packed with vitamins and, best of all, are low in sugar. This means you can snack away without worrying about your sugar intake.
Ways to eat them: Use as toppings, eat with a dollop of honey or yogurt, add them to your baking, or blend them into a smoothie.