5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Author: Kelly Lehmann  •  Date: November 19, 2014  •  Appears in: News

5 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Winter is dark and cloudy. In the cold weather, and bundled up in puffy clothes it is easy to think putting on a few pounds and eating extra junk food is okay. But refined carbohydrates, sugar and greasy foods can make us feel sluggish and even contribute to depression.

Luckily there are five simple things you can do to boost your mood naturally while increasing your overall health.

  1. Increase your consumption of omega 3 fats.  Research has shown that omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help improve mood.  This may mean having 2 servings of cold water fish (like salmon) per week. If you prefer not to eat fish, a study looking at the moods of seventh day Adventist vegetarians found them to report fewer episodes of depression than omnivores, so increasing plant omega 3s may improve mood beyond what we currently understand about omega 3 fats. Plant omega-3s include chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts and leafy greens.
  2. Get your sunshine, and you may need to take a supplement. Vitamin D requirements of 600 IU per day are difficult to achieve in the winter when we are covered up by warm clothes and barely see the sunshine. Add sunscreen use to the mix, and you have little or no natural production of vitamin D. To increase your intake, add vitamin D fortified foods to your diet, fatty fish, or a supplement containing at least 400 IU of vitamin D per day.
  3. Eat warming foods. These may rev up your metabolism and make you feel warm and some of them reduce inflammation, which can be caused by the unhealthy “comfort” foods of winter.  Add ginger, chili, turmeric, garam masala, basil, dill, oregano, garlic and onion all can turn up the heat in your meals and make you feel warm and nourished.
  4. Eat a balanced diet. Many micronutrients contribute to mood, and ensuring you have them in the right balance will stabilize your mood. That means including carbohydrates, protein and fats. Eating a wide variety of vegetable, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains and lean proteins.
  5. Exercise and get your sleep. Listen to your body. It may feel more tired as the days get darker. Maybe go to bed a little earlier to get a little extra sleep. Exercising daily can help you sleep and regulate your mood. Try exercising outside for a boost of fresh air.

Bonus 6. Chocolate! Wonderfully enough, eating dark chocolate is associated with decreased tension and improved mood. Select high quality chocolate, eat only a small square and savour it.

If you are experiencing depression that is greater than just the winter “blues”, please talk to a doctor. These tips are intended for mild sadness associated with the darkness of winter.

Image by Michael Hyatt

Kelly Lehmann


Kelly is a Registered Dietitian in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. She does consultations both in person locally, and online across the country - www.okanaganrd.com. She blogs about food, cooking, family, fitness and balancing it all (as best as I can!) - www.okanaganrd.blogspot.ca.
Read more by Kelly Lehmann

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