Does anybody else feel like this winter has gone on forever?
I don’t know about you, but to me, summer feels about a million years away at this point.
And as these weeks of seemingly endless cold and snowy days drag on, chances are you’re finding yourself feeling more moody, tired, and frustrated than normal –– bleh.
Yep, the winter months can do a number on your mood, and there’s even the science to prove it.
According to psychiatrist Mirica Sanders, short, cold days and weeks of gray skies can take a toll on everything from sleep patterns, to energy, to hunger, “When the days get shorter and we have less sunlight, an overproduction of melatonin can contribute to people feeling tired and having less energy.”
So, does that mean you should hide yourself away for the hibernating months? Should you just throw in the towel and wallow in misery for the foreseeable future?
You could, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Because as it turns out, you’ve got a powerful weapon in the fight against the winter blues: Nutrition.
Just like winter weather can cause your mood to take a nosedive, what you choose to feed yourself can give you a jumpstart and get you back on track.
So, instead of giving up and going back to bed, why not try feeding yourself to elevate your state of mind? Here are 5 mood-boosting foods that you can leverage to help you push through to spring.
Let’s Get Nuts
If you ask me, nuts are one of the easiest foods to add to your diet.
Simple and portable, they involve no preparation, no special storage, and they’re easy to stash in your bag or car for an easy snack.
Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats to help you feel full, and are a great source of Vitamin E (particularly walnuts, almonds, and hazelnuts). They also contain antioxidants which can help strengthen your immune system. And studies have even shown that a healthy diet supplemented daily with mixed nuts can significantly reduce signs of depression.
Plus, they pack a super satisfying crunch and make the perfect addition to salads, smoothies, and more.
Listen to Your Gut
You’ve probably heard that boosting the good bacteria in your gut can help with digestion, but the benefits don’t stop there.
Healthy gut bacteria can also increase the production of Serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in your mood.
So what are the best sources of gut-boosting bacteria?
Yogurt, both traditional and Greek-style, as well as fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are great options for keeping your gut microbiome running strong.
And for an added boost, try adding a quality probiotic supplement like Nutrithority’s Greens Factor. Not only is it packed full of gut-healthy probiotics, it’s loaded with antioxidant superfoods to keep you energized and going strong.
Adding fat might seem like the last thing you need to do in the winter –– especially if you added few extra layers to your winter coat over the holidays –– but including healthy fats in your diet can have a positive impact on both your mental and physical healthy (just try to stay away from the Oreos).
Diets high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to decrease symptoms of depression and improve mood. Omega-3s can also help to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and lower inflammation in the body.
Try adding salmon, albacore tuna, trout, mackerel, or anchovy to your diet for a serious mental charge.
Take a Lesson from Popeye
The Sailor Man was definitely on to something.
Leafy greens are packed with goodness, such as vitamins A, C, K, and folate, along with iron, calcium and fiber. Research has shown that greens can play a role in decreasing the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which often peak during the winter months. They also produce compounds that aid the liver in processing toxins, helping your body to perform at an optimum level.
Try adding greens to your normal salad mix or smoothies and shakes for an easy way to bump up the benefits. Spinach, mustard greens, collard greens, and turnip greens all make great seasonal additions to a winter diet.
Spill the Cocoa Beans.
You probably don’t need a load of scientific data to know that chocolate makes everything better.
Dark chocolate has been shown to chemically improve your mood by releasing endorphins and increasing your body’s serotonin production –– similar to the effect of a great workout.
Chocolate also contains caffeine, which can help get you through the midafternoon slump on those long winter afternoons, and dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation and even lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.
Just remember, not all chocolate is created equal (that Hershey bar isn’t going to get the job done, folks). To reap the benefits, look for dark chocolate that contains at least 70 percent cocoa solids to add to your diet.
Try adding a few of these blues-fighting weapons to your diet during these final frigid weeks and that spring sunshine will be here before you know it!
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