For many people, including myself, the cold weather and short days brings along with them a blue mood. I start to get bummed out pretty much as soon as I can’t walk around outside barefoot in shorts and a t-shirt. Fortunately, there are a lot of tips out there on how to beat the winter blues, even like planning your summer trips. But, you can still get really down sometimes during the winter.
An integral, but often missed, aspect of boosting your mood is the food you eat, and I’m not talking about comfort food; that may help in the short term, but usually comfort foods are bad for you in the long run. There are a number of different types of food that are healthy for you and will brighten your mood, even when it’s dark and dreary outside.
This isn’t one specific food, but eating the right foods for breakfast, eating breakfast at all, is a huge mood booster. Starting your day without the proper nutrition is going to leave you tired, less focused and probably more irritable throughout the day.
Fish and nuts
Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, fish and nuts, especially salmon and walnuts, provide a lot of health benefits including weight management, increased memory and focus and the fact that they’ve been linked to lowering depression.
Carbs often get a bad rap in the dieting world, but the reality is they’re necessary for a healthy, balanced diet. You just need to eat the right kind of carbs. The “good” carbs include fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans/legumes. These foods boost your mood by releasing tryptophan into your blood stream which helps make serotonin, a mood regulator, in your brain.
This one surprised me. I’m used to hearing about how bad caffeine is for you, and it is, in high doses. However, a correlation has been found between drinking several cups – up to four – of coffee a day and a 10% lower risk of developing depression.
While it’s true, don’t celebrate too soon. It’s dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, that that can help your mood, and you need to keep it to a moderate amount. Dark chocolate has magnesium, which calms your muscles, and tryptophan, which helps reduce depression.
This super food doesn’t just give you Popeye’s super strength, it also has folic acid, a B vitamin that will improve the positive hormones in your brain.
Dark, leafy greens are good for you in general. Swiss chard is another one that will get you feeling better mentally and physically.
Chicken is another one I didn’t know about. It contains the critical B12 vitamin that helps calm your body down, allowing you to relax and feel better.
Definitely not a personal favorite, but tofu is a super healthy food and it relaxes your muscles, calming you down and boosting your overall mood. It does taste pretty good if cooked in soup.
Avocado’s a pretty obvious super food, I think. Guacamole will boost anybody’s mood no matter how bad your day is. And it contains that happy neurotransmitter, serotonin.
The probiotics in this yogurt will give both your immune system and your mental/emotional outlook a leg up.
Green tea is already a pretty popular relaxing/comfort food and that’s because it contains theanine, an antioxidant that helps calm your body down.
Chamomile tea is another great choice, especially right before bed because it calms your body, helping you to relax and sleep deeply.
Berries reduce your stress and risk of depression because they contain a number of different, healthy nutrients.
Along with berries, these yummy little fruits will put a positive spin on your day. Drop some in a salad or just eat them out of the container like I do.
Oregano, as well as sunflower seeds, provides your body with needed nutrients and fights depression, fatigue and anxiety.
This vegetable is a super-super food because it has the highest level of folate in any vegetable. This chemical is linked to the creation of dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine in your brain, three of the “happy” neurotransmitters. Without these hormones, you’ll be forgetful, irritable and unable to sleep well.
Notice any patterns in my list of these super foods? Lots of fruits and vegetables! You don’t need to follow some extreme, expensive diet to eat right and feel good. Just follow the common sense rules of avoiding processed foods with little nutrition and eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you know of any other super foods, let us know!