Coffee that warms your insides, holidays with friends and family, and cozy, snowy weekends spent inside reading by the fire are a few of our favorite things when it comes to the winter season. Lucky for us, they’re also the most talked about and celebrated. But what about the cold winter days that chill our insides? The lack of vitamin D from less time spent outside? And the general not-so-great feelings that creep out from the shadows?
We’re talking about those winter blues or seasonal affective disorder (SAD). SAD can leave us feeling depressed and overwhelmed, feeling nothing like our “normal” selves. It can make a reflective time of year feel suffocating. And, quite frankly, us girls running the world don’t have time for negative, destructive thoughts. While exercise and light therapy are great ways to quell the winter blues, what you eat can seriously impact your mood as well. Help rid the winter blues with these 10 “mood foods”!
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Leafy greens, like kale, are an excellent inflammation fighter. A study shows that severe depression could be linked to brain inflammation. Kale is also packed with nutrients like Vitamin A, C, E, and K to keep your body healthy and strong.
Try this recipe: Not a fan of the crunchy, dark greens? This cheesy kale salad might change your mind!
Was this one even a surprise? An overload on sugar can make our bodies feel lethargic and our minds groggy, augmenting depression.
Try this recipe: Swap out refined sugar for dates (a sweet alternative) in this extra moist chocolate cake.
If we aren’t able to soak up the sun, our bodies lose a key source of vitamin D. Don’t fret, vitamin D is also found in foods, like eggs. Scramble, poach, or boil to keep depressive feelings at bay.
Try this recipe: Amp up your lunch with this poached-eggs rice bowl.
Not only does dark chocolate give a boost of happiness to our taste buds, it does the same to our brains. Dark chocolate is rich with serotonin, a chemical that passes signals to different parts of the brain. Researchers believe that an imbalance of serotonin in the body can lead to depression.
Try this recipe: Try this healthier dark chocolate trail mix.
Pack in your omega 3 fatty acids with a handful of walnuts. Instead of going for a bag of chips in the afternoon, try the crunch of walnuts to reduce your stress.
Try this recipe: Up your snacking game with these cream cheese and cucumber crispbreads – topped with walnuts, of course!
Stressed out? You can thank cortisol, a hormone released in your body that creates stress. To stave off stress, munch on some berries.
Try this recipe: Wake up to a refreshing mixed berries and banana smoothie.
While salmon may be touted for its low levels of Mercury, it’s also got an abundance of omega 3s. The omega 3 fatty acids have been suggested to improve depressive feelings.
Try this recipe: Add a sweet twist to this fish and try the honey garlic salmon.
Fruits high in vitamin C will boost the immune system and keep your energy levels high. Sinking into a sad spell? Grab an orange or grapefruit.
Try this recipe: Looking for something light packed with a ton of taste? This citrus salad with arugula and ricotta salata will do the trick.
Need another source of vitamin D? Add some mushrooms to your diet. These fungi are loaded with vitamin D and will help combat SAD.
Try this recipe: While you may think mushrooms are an acquired taste, let us change your mind with this creamy parmesan garlic mushroom chicken. Yum!
Start the day right with oats, a mood-regulating food. Oats have a low glycemic index, which keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
Try this recipe: Waking up can be tough. Ease your way into the day with this maple cinnamon steel cut oatmeal.
What mood foods do you eat to ward off the winter blues? Let us know in the comments below!
Shelby Newsome is a Maryland-based writer and bookseller who writes stories about mental health, culture, compelling people, and more. She enjoys intellectual discussions, desserts, and cuddling with her cat Butter.