If you find yourself dealing with the “winter blues” during the colder and darker months, you are certainly not alone.
While it’s normal to feel a little less energetic or cheerful during the winter months, some people experience something much more intense called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of depression linked to the change of seasons.
SAD often leads to fatigue, cognitive problems, and changes in eating habits and weight. Caused by weather changes, a lack of vitamin D, a drop in serotonin, and changes in melatonin levels, SAD affects about five percent of adults in the United States. It is more prevalent in women than in men.
“Symptoms typically occur during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight, and typically improve with the onset of spring,” notes the American Psychiatric Association. “The toughest months for people with SAD in the United States tend to be January and February.”
In addition to talk therapy, light therapy, and prescribed antidepressants, there are also ways to deal with SAD that involve healthy eating. We spoke with experts to find out how to improve your mood through the power of food. Keep reading to learn more, and then don’t miss the best juice to drink every day, according to science.
Starting your day with healthy breakfast cereals can be a great way to give your body a boost while helping you manage SAD symptoms. Juliana Tamayo, nutritionist, MS, as well as writer for FitnessClone.com, tells Eat this, not that!, “Most fortified cereals are rich in fiber, vitamin B12 and folic acid. These are three essential nutrients to fight the symptoms of depression.”
“On the one hand, fiber promotes a healthier gut microbiota, which improves immunity,” says Tamayo. “Vitamin B12 is an essential vitamin for neurological health, which is why people who lack it often develop anemia and lethargy. Folic acid, on the other hand, is part of regeneration and creation of new cells, which helps keep your body healthy and young.”
If you are a seafood lover, adding fish to your diet could be an ideal option for you. “Eating lean protein can help alleviate symptoms of the ‘winter blues’ because it provides a source of protein that doesn’t cause indigestion or inflammation,” says Tamayo.
Tamayo adds that “oily fish are also good for fighting SAD symptoms as they are very high in omega 3 essential fatty acids. Studies show that omega 3s are highly anti-inflammatory but also a good source of energy for the body. brain, as it helps regulate mood and helps with neural connections.”
Do you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet? Then tasty tofu might be the best food to cheer you up. Susan Kelly, RDN at Pacific Analytics, says Eat this, not that!, “Maintained iron levels are linked to a reduced risk of developing the winter blues and depression. A large collection of your brain cells need iron to prevent depressive symptoms. body.”
“Although it seems counterproductive to eat sugar, in this case, a good dark cocoa chocolate can help relieve symptoms of depression,” Tamayo noted. “Studies show that dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that plays a role in alleviating symptoms of depression.”
For more, check out the 100 Unhealthiest Foods on Earth.