Shorter days and snowy weather can leave you sad and grumpy in winter. During these times, it may be tempting to reach for junk food, but this can actually compound your depression. Luckily, there are healthy alternatives that do the opposite. Here are five foods to pull you out of your seasonal slump:
What if there was a food that could help you lose weight and feel happier? Look no further than nuts for a boost of serotonin. A 2011 study in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Proteome Research found that patients who were at risk for heart disease had higher levels of serotonin in their bodies after eating nuts. The result: They were happier, less hungry and their heart function was improved. To feel the effects, the patients ate one ounce of raw mixed nuts each day (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts).
Greens such as kale and bok choy reach up toward the sun to get chlorophyll, and chlorophyll gives our bodies blood and oxygen that lifts our mood as a result. Consider where, when and in what direction plants are growing to determine their mood-boosting qualities, IIN founder Joshua Rosenthal suggests in his book, Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness.
Carrots and parsnips, on the other hand, grow downward so they produce a grounding energy when we feel overwhelmed, Rosenthal says. The carotenoids in carrots may also be linked to increased feelings of optimism, although studies aren’t definitive. If you want to double up on mood-boosting foods, check out this recipe for braised kale with apples and carrots.
Dark chocolate has a calming effect and can also make you feel happier by boosting serotonin levels. A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology showed that those who drank a dark-chocolate drink felt more content and at ease than those who didn’t. So give yourself permission to eat a cocoa-rich treat next time you’re feeling blue. But steer clear of milk chocolate and be conscious of your sugar intake, as sweets can make you feel good at first but then lead to a crash if you overindulge.
Next time you’re feeling gloomy, cut open a lemon or grapefruit and breathe in the citrusy notes. Citrus fragrances have been shown to reduce depression, and winter is the prime season for enjoying these fruits. At Integrative Nutrition, we believe in eating foods during their peak harvesting seasons. So add a little lemon to your tea or eat a grapefruit during your next snack, and feel your cares melt away.
Do you notice a difference in your mood after eating certain foods? Let us know in the comments.