Boost Your Winter Mood
February 1, 2021
If winter has got you down, this nutrition guide will help you choose the healthy foods and activities to get you through.
If you’re in the New York area this winter, you are tired of shoveling the snow and you’re so over this winter. You are ready for warm weather and summer sun. And I imagine that is true even if you aren’t in New York. We can all agree, this winter is depressing and with limited ability to get out, it can feel worse than usual, at times.
When we are feeling those winter blues we tend to get lazy about what we eat and how active we are. We lack motivation to stay healthy. But food and activity are directly linked to our emotions, we can choose foods and a lifestyle that combat those winter grumpies, while being kind to our environment and those around us.
Diets full of fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes, such as the Mediterranean diet, have been proven to lift our mood. The staple foods of the Mediterranean Diet are full of vitamins and minerals that are shown to combat feeling down. Some of the micronutrients that have been linked directly with mood-boosting include Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Magnesium, and Vitamin D. Although there are plenty of foods out there that can provide these nutrients, let’s concentrate on some of the winter goodies that are in season and can be bought locally.
- Broccoli is full of vitamin C. We typically associate vitamin C with our immune systems, specifically as preventative treatment for the common cold. But vitamin C is also a key micronutrient in brain function and has been proven to play a role in improving mood.
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, beans and legumes, are all loaded with vitamin B6. B6 is linked to many functions of our body, it is an important coenzyme for many reactions. It has also been associated with relieving stress . B6 is often a recommended supplement for easing premenstrual symptoms.
- Legumes, whole grains, and leafy greens are incredible sources of Magnesium and easy finds at your local farmer’s market. This mineral is famous for its role in treatment for mood irregularity.
- Vitamin D is better known as the “sunshine vitamin”, but when the sun isn’t shining as much as we wish it would, we can get this fat-soluble vitamin from mushrooms, eggs and oily fish such as salmon (sustainably sourced). Vitamin D has been proven as an effective, low-cost treatment for depression and is continuously being studied as more benefits are discovered .
- And, let’s quickly mention physical activity. In the wise words of Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde, “exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy…”. One of the most memorable lines in the movie is also a great mantra to understand how simply, exercise causes release of mood-boosting chemicals in your brain to feel good and relaxed. It is no secret that when the dead of winter rolls around the last thing you want to do is hit the gym or in our current situation, hit the at-home workout video. Motivation for fitness should not only be rooted in what we look like, it should also be about what we feel like. Exercise is a key to our personal wellness.
Maybe you’re thinking “That sounds fine but I just want to wallow. It’s cold outside…leave me alone. Why would I want to boost my mood?”. Pushing yourself even just slightly is going to give you maximum results. When we take the time to embrace a more positive outlook and feeling, we can pass that feeling along to someone else. The good kind of contagious! And I would say that passing along some optimism, or good spirits, is exactly what we all need right about now. The decision to not let those winter blues get to you, is a healthy one. Choose to eat some of your favorite winter veggies, stay active, and spread cheer – our recipe to make it to spring!