Beat the Winter Blues with Food
Feeling a little off colour is normal at this time of year. The celebrations we were anticipating for so long are over, and another daunting year lies before us like a long and mysterious road! So is there anything we can do about it, or do we have no choice but to wither and wait for the blues to end?
Well, there are actually a few actions we can take. Exercising regularly has been proven to improve your mood (this may also be your New Year’s resolution, so now there's another reason to get your trainers on). Meditation works well for others. And what about what we eat? It’s no secret that eating well can improve your mental wellbeing. The following are just a few suggestions for beating the winter blues with food:
1. Fruit and Veg
Let’s get the obvious over with. You know that getting your five a day is essential for your overall wellbeing. Fruit and veg are packed with key nutrients and phytochemicals which contribute to your overall health. Eating a healthy, balanced diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables is the foundation for good physical and mental health. Plus, if you've fallen off the band wagon over Christmas, eating healthily for just a few days will make you feel better about yourself. You're likely to have better digestion (which can lead to improved energy levels), better concentration, and even healthier skin too. Don't forget to drink plenty of water too!
2. Selenium-Rich Foods
Selenium is a mineral that acts in a similar way to an antioxidant – and oxidation in the brain is a possible cause of depression (especially in the elderly). Wholegrains are rich in antioxidants, so it’s wise to switch to oatmeal, wholegrain bread and brown rice. Other good sources of selenium include brazil nuts and shellfish - so tuck in (though not necessarily both at once!
3. Fish Days
Recent studies have shown that those who eat more fish are less likely to have symptoms of depression – especially fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Good news for fish-lovers! Vary things up a bit by having fish twice a week - oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna are all particularly good. If you’re not a fishy person at all, it might be worth looking into fish-oil capsules – or Omega-3 supplements.
Shall we finish on a very positive note? Obviously it isn’t a good idea to over-indulge, but studies have shown that a small amount of dark chocolate a day is great for the heart. Not only this, but it has an effect on our level of brain-endorphins – the “feel-good” chemicals. So it isn’t such a bad thing to treat yourself once in a while! Just stick to high quality dark or raw chocolate - a bar of milk chocolate won't have the same effect.
If you're feeling particularly low or don't feel any better after a couple of weeks, try talking to your friends and family or seek expert advice. Good luck and let's hope the sun makes an appearance soon!
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