The long winter months can often leave you feeling sluggish and sad, as you’re more likely to be cooped up in the house and receive less sunlight.
Elizabeth Somer, registered dietitian and author of “Food & Mood,” calls these feelings the winter blues, something more than 25 million Americans experience.
Some things Elizabeth suggests you do to improve your mood during the winter months:
- Increase exposure to full-spectrum light. Ample sunshine hitting the retina of our eyes triggers a cascade of events in the brain that raises serotonin levels. If there is no sunshine, purchase a full-spectrum “bio light.” Sitting in front of one of these for even 30 minutes a day can help boost mood.
- Speaking of your brain, make sure it is getting proper nutrients by taking a moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement. Additionally, take a vitamin D supplement and an algal-based DHA supplement such as One A Day® VitaCraves®™ Gummies Plus Omega-3 DHA.
- Skip the sugar and cut back on the caffeine, both may be aggravating the blues. Snacking on sweets works temporarily – serotonin levels rise and we feel better, but that high is followed by a crash, setting up a hunger and mood roller coaster that leads to overeating and weight gain. Snack on natural sweets, such as blueberries or watermelon, instead.
- Snack on high-quality carbs, such as whole grain breads and crackers, or starchy vegetables like corn or potatoes. Plan a small mid-afternoon all-carb snack, such as half a whole wheat English muffin with jam, three fig bars, or 3 cups of air-popped popcorn to counteract the desire to eat sweets at this crave-prone time of day. Serotonin also improves sleep, so honey drizzled over half a bagel or a scoop of sorbet topped with strawberries, will help you sleep better, too!
- Some people don’t experience a mood boost when they eat high-carb diets. So, if you still feel grumpy after a week’s worth of the high-carb choices, try cutting back on the carbohydrates and increasing protein intake by adding a slice of turkey or a glass of milk to the meal. Protein has a satiating effect that keeps you full longer and curbs cravings in some people.
For more great tips from Elizabeth Somer, check out her blog!