Healthy Diet & Nutrition
Mental & Emotional Health

Using Food to Beat Winter Blues

This article originally appeared on Demos Health.

Depression during winter, or the so-called “winter blues”, can affect anyone at any age. The lack of consistent sunlight and vitamin D, plus the long stretches of cold, rainy or snowy days can leave a body worn down. Unfortunately this also leaves many of us prone to constant snacking to battle the dreary days, resulting in the dreaded winter weight gain.

The best thing to do when trying to stave off that winter weight is to, in fact, eat. Maintaining a healthy and consistently steady diet is crucial to overcoming the slump of the winter diet “cheat days”. Instead of reaching for that extra mug of hot chocolate or plate of cookies, try following these food tips to boost your mood and keep you on the right health track this winter season.

  • Fish-Not only is fish a lean protein, it’s full of omega 3’s that are essential for mental and physical health. Try replacing your heavier meals with fish courses this winter to give your plate a lighter, but filling, touch.
  • Citrus Fruits-Citrus fruits contain Vitamin C and have the added bonus of being a refreshing palate cleanser, perfect to help battle cravings. Be careful not to over eat these, though, as natural sugars can work against any weight loss plans!
  • Berries-Berries are a natural way to help prevent the release of cortisol, which stimulates your more emotional responses, especially when you’re feeling stressed out or overwhelmed. Berries are a good booster to help keep you from lashing out or getting too down on yourself this winter.
  • Nuts-Nuts are a great snack to have on hand and nuts like peanuts and walnuts are proven to help counteract the symptoms of depression. Keep a small handful with you to munch on when you start getting a craving, or when out with friends to help resist any extra temptations.
  • Dark Chocolate– Dark chocolate in moderation has been shown to alleviate depression symptoms.

Of course it goes without saying that you can’t just add new foods into your daily diet without getting rid of others that may be causing you some trouble. Be sure to be mindful of what you’re eating this winter and try to avoid the following:

  • Sugars-Sugar can not only pack on the pounds but once you crash you’re left feeling more down than before, Instead of artificial sugars try berries or fruits for a lighter snack.
  • Cream soups-Cream-based soups can leave you feeling heavy and bloated. Try sticking to a broth base.
  • Pot pies-Pot pies fall into a dangerous category. Not only are they made with heavy crusts that can leave you feeling bloated and your body unsatisfied a short while later, but they have the added downside of a cream-based filling.

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