Are you feeling the winter blues? The sky gets darker. The days get shorter. It’s cold outside and you’re cooped up. It’s no wonder that so many people suffer from depression, anxiety, and the general “down” feeling. Here in Lynchburg, we don’t see a lot of snow; but the rainy, cloudy days make for a dreary, depressing season, too.
When you’re cooped up inside and feeling down, you may turn to foods that are comforting, but not really the best choice for bringing you out of the blues. The good news is that there are options that can help lift your mood — even if the cloudy, rainy or snowy days don’t have a clear end in sight!
Vitamins and Nutrients to Look For
When you’re grocery shopping and looking at your options, choose foods that contain:
- Vitamin D – Vitamin D has been shown to prevent and reduce depression in some individuals. A deficiency in this vitamin is also linked to a number of illnesses and conditions including diabetes. During the winter months, I take a Vitamin D3 Supplement to boost my system — it’s proven to work because my levels stay normal when I have blood work completed at the doctor’s office.
- Vitamin B – the vitamin B complex helps your body manage stress optimally. It also boosts your immune system.
- Folate – Folic acid helps regulate your blood flow. It also assists with sleep. Better sleep means a better ability to manage stress and control emotions. It means better physical and mental health.
- Omega Fatty Acids – Fatty acids reduce inflammation in your body and your brain. Studies have shown that people who experience winter depression are often low in omega fatty acids.
- Protein – Protein helps keep your blood sugar levels even. This means consistent energy throughout the day. Try to eat protein at every meal.
Foods to Add to Your Winter Shopping Cart
- Salmon – Salmon is rich in vitamin D and omega fatty acids. It’s also protein. And salmon isn’t the only fish that contains these blues-busting nutrients. Mackerel and other cold-water fish do too. If you don’t like fish, eat plenty of nuts and seeds. They’re rich in protein. We try to incorporate salmon into our dinner plan at least once per week!
- Lentils and legumes – Lentils are rich in folate. They also have a number of B vitamins which help you manage stress.
- Brown rice – Brown rice is packed with B vitamins and it’s a great source of fiber. It’ll keep your body feeling full and your blood sugar even.
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale – Dark leafy greens contain a multitude of vitamins. They’re also a good source of fiber. Try to include at least one serving of dark leafy greens every day. Don’t like the ‘green’ or ‘earthy’ taste? Add a handful to a fruit smoothie. You’ll get the nutrients but mask the flavor that many find to be harsh!
- Dark chocolate
- Vitamin D enriched milk or soymilk
- Whole grain enriched breakfast cereals
- Green tea
Steer clear of a diet that contains a lot of starchy carbs, white flour and sugar. These can cause inflammation, blood sugar spikes and low energy.
Beat the blues by providing your body with the nutrients it needs to stay strong and healthy. Plan ahead and pack your cupboards and refrigerator with blues-busting foods this winter.