Mood boosting foods for the Winter

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Friday, October 4th, 2013
Community, Features

It’s that time of year again; as I write this article I have goose bumps as I reach to switch on the central heating. The rain is beating off the windows, it’s only tea time and yet outside is bleak, black and dark – yes, the seasons have finally turned.

As the clocks prepare to fall back, encouraging hibernation, many of us will find we turn to food in an attempt to boost our moods.

That ‘down in the dumps feeling’ can be due to stress, anxiety, depression, and unfortunately some of us will find that the reason behind it is due to Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD), as they find they’re a little more blue than usual.

The good news is that we can improve our moods and help kick start that ‘feel good’ hormone serotonin, also know as “The Happy Hormone” with my top tips to ease yourself into the colder months, read on and get happy!

Serotonin is the one we want on our sides, it’s our mood regulator, encouraging emotional stability, more focus and energy.

The other pro to this hormone for dieters is that it’s also nature’s own appetite suppressant, yet more and more research indicates that those on low fat diets are often down in the dumps as they lack serotonin’s friend in this happiness pursuit – tryptophan. Tryptophan is needed to allow serotonin to enter the brain and work its magic.

However, a study published in Hellsinki in 2012 linked low fat diets to depression and even suicide. Olive oil with your salad on weight watcher?

Top Tips to Boost Mood:

1. Increase intake of tryptophan – Found in protein foods such as turkey and yogurt, with mood enhancing effects at their best when eaten alongside carbohydrate rich foods such as brown rice or legumes.

2. Chocolate – Yes our cocoa friend can promote feel good endorphins as research finds that a little every day can reduce stress and enhance moods, stick to less than 100 calories and make it at least 70% cocoa content to avoid guilt, weight gain and increased antioxidant intake.

3. Eat more fruit and vegetables – Those who eat more fruit and veggies are happier, more positive people. By consuming a healthy diet, you also increase the sense of achievement and pro activity, which helps make you feel successful giving another welcome emotional boost.

4. Exercise – Encourages a surge of endorphins. Lace up your trainers, pop on your headphones or call a friend and get outdoors for a fresh air and heart pumping increase in mood. Ever wondered why after a walk that box of chocolates you had your eye on with a cuppa don’t seem as appealing? Thank serotonin for that, you now feel fantastic, happy and aren’t craving sweet stuff, a win for exercise.

5. Say no to the quick fixes such as caffeine and sugar – These are temporary fixes which only temporarily improve your mood before you find you need more to get the same high. Aim to boost feeling good long term with these top tips.

6. Eat carbohydrates – No they don’t make you fat, in fact, eating a diet restricted in carbohydrates can dampen your mood. Eat whole-grains such as brown rice and wholegrain breads in moderation and with a diet high in good fats, fruits, vegetables and that all important protein.

FOODS TO CHOOSE:Brown rice, sweet potatoes, wholegrain low GI bread.

7. Increase your intake of heart healthy omega 3 fats – Ever wondered why in Japan, a country with one of the highest intakes of fish, also has the lowest incidence of depression? Yet in the US, as depression rates rise, intake of omega 3 fatty acids declines. The answers lie in the statistics. Essential fatty acids are called so as they are essential for our health, our hormone regulation, our brain function and our moods. Our bodies cannot make these fats, therefore the onus is on each and everyone of us to ensure we are actively adding these foods to our diets.

FOODS TO CHOOSE: Olive oil, almonds, salmon, walnuts, flax seeds, kippers.

Lisa is a Nutritionist at The Wellness Coach, find her on Facebook at The Wellness Coach or click HERE. Visit her website here: www.thewellnesscoach.ie

Contact Lisa today for more information or a tailored nutrition plan. T: 07730577822/E: lisa@thewellnesscoach.ie


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