If your mood is feeling blah and you're packing on the pounds, you might have a case of the winter blues, otherwise know as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
SAD is a seasonal mood disorder that most commonly occurs through the fall and winter months. Although the exact cause of SAD is unknown, scientists believe this form of depression may stem from hormonal changes that can occur at certain times of year.
People suffering from SAD may begin to experience less energy, greater appetite, and weight gain. Even if you do not suffer from SAD, the winter season can increase your odds of gaining weight simply due to a lack of exposure to sunlight.
Natural light provides one of our greatest sources of vitamin D. Without adequate sunlight and a limited intake of foods rich in vitamin D, you can start to become deficient. Research has shown a strong link between vitamin D deficiency and an increase in body weight. In one study conducted by the University of Southern California and McGill University Health Center, researchers found young women with a vitamin D insufficiency were significantly heavier and had an increased body mass than young women with normal vitamin D levels.
To fight against winter-related weight gain and to help lift your mood, try incorporating a few of these foods a few times per week.
This fatty fish is a packed full of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids have been shown to offer many health benefits, one of which is in decreasing the risk of depression. One study found that individuals with higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids experienced mild to moderate depression symptoms less frequently than those with lower levels.
Dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, are rich in folic acid. There has been some research that indicates a diet rich in folic acid may help to boost mood and fight against depression, possibility due to folic acid’s role in the creation of the feel good chemical serotonin in the brain. Although further research is needed to understand exactly how folic acid lifts mood, increasing your dietary intake of this nutrient can only help to benefit overall health .
Low fat milk is a great way to boost both your calcium and vitamin D
intake with about 200 IU of vitamin D per cup. In addition, the milk fat can help aid the absorption of vitamin D, which is a fat soluble vitamin.
Bananas are pretty much supermarket staples year round, so finding one shouldn’t be too challenging even in the dead of winter. This tasty fruit is rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that has a documented calming effect. In addition, bananas are rich in magnesium, a nutrient that may help to aid sleep and reduce anxiety. Combine this with the carbohydrates in bananas that help to boost serotonin and you have a recipe for an easy, inexpensive, and delicious mood lifter.