Protection against winter blues through diet
Eating certain foods improves mood, sleep, and the energy available during the day. The consumption of such foods also protects against suffering from the so-called winter blues in the cold season. Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Susan Albers explains how foods affect mood and which foods can have a positive or negative impact.
Emotional eating in fall and winter
The expert reports that the results of the study have shown that the change of seasons often leads to an increase in emotional eating. “This study found that people who felt depressed due to shorter days during the winter and fall months increased their snacking, craved starchy and sugary foods, and ate more at night,” explains Dr. Albers in a Cleveland Clinic news release.
Eating these foods can affect your mood, so be careful not to eat certain foods during the winter months, or at least limit your intake. Such foods include:
- starchy foods,
- processed foods.
Low energy thanks to sugar and flour?
Sugar-sweetened foods (such as soda and cookies) and flour-containing foods (bread, cookies, and baked goods) provide a quick energy boost, but their poor nutritional value can lead to a lack of energy later on and a moody, says Dr. Albers
These foods improve mood
However, there are also many foods that have a positive effect on mood. According to the expert, it is better to consume these foods on a daily basis to see an improvement in mood over time.
Foods rich in vitamin D
dr Albers advises eating foods rich in vitamin D such as red meat (in small amounts), mushrooms, egg yolks, tuna, salmon, and sardines. Another way to get vitamin D is from foods fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, yogurt, and muesli.
Anxiety and depression due to lack of vitamin D
People who eat more emotionally during the winter months have been shown to have lower levels of vitamin D, which has been linked to more anxiety and depression, explains the psychologist.
Protective effect of vitamin C
According to the expert, vitamin C can help with anxiety, Alzheimer’s and depression. To increase your intake of vitamin C, eating oranges, mangoes, lemons, kiwis, broccoli, bell peppers and strawberries is a good option. “One of the best things you can do to support your immune system and improve your mood is to eat foods rich in vitamin C,” says Dr. Albers.
protein rich foods
Certain foods, such as beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs, help meet protein needs. “These foods are associated with higher levels of dopamine and norepinephrine,” said the expert. These are important for mood, motivation and concentration. Vegetarians or vegans can use chickpeas, lentils or tofu for their protein intake.
Sweet potatoes contain a lot of vitamin A.
It is advisable to substitute sweet potatoes for potatoes as they are a good source of vitamin A. “Sweet potatoes contain fiber, which breaks down very slowly and can improve blood sugar levels. This, in turn, helps prevent cravings and emotional eating,” explains Dr. Albers. Sweet potatoes are also high in magnesium, which has been shown to help reduce cravings.
Beetroot lowers blood sugar and blood pressure
Eating beets is a good idea, especially when it comes to anxiety and stress. Beets can also lower blood sugar levels. Eating beets can also help lower blood pressure within hours.”
Walnuts protect cognition and improve mood
The expert advises adding walnuts to your diet. These are not only good for cognitive functions (memory, attention, and language), but can also improve mood. A study in which participants were given a handful of walnuts for five days showed a significant reduction in appetite and cravings for starchy and sugary foods, the expert said.
Cocoa improves mood thanks to polyphenols
Cocoa is not only calming and tasty, but it is also a good source of so-called polyphenols, which are very powerful antioxidants that improve mood thanks to their anti-inflammatory effects. Many studies have shown that polyphenols improve concentration and focus.
However, enjoy the Christmas season.
dr Albers also advises that he shouldn’t be too strict with his diet in the winter months. “As the holiday season approaches, he puts diets aside. This is often stressful for people and you should focus on mindful eating instead. This means slowing down, living in the moment, and enjoying food, rather than trying to stay away from certain foods. (What)
Author and source of information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been reviewed by medical professionals.
- Cleveland Clinic: The Connection Between Food and Your Mood (Posted 10/22/2021), Cleveland Clinic
- Shannon D Donofry, Kathryn A Roecklein, Kelly J Rohan, Jennifer E Wildes, Marissa L Kamarcka: prevalence and correlates of binge eating in seasonal affective disorder; in Research in Psychiatry (published Volume 217, Numbers 1-2, Pages 47-53, 2014-06-30), Research in Psychiatry
- ScienceDaily: In a Nutshell: Walnuts Activate Brain Region Involved in Appetite Control (Published 08/16/2017), ScienceDaily
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot replace a visit to the doctor.