Our stress levels tend to skyrocket around holiday time. And the dark and gloomy weather doesn't help, either. So we often turn to fatty and sugary foods for comfort. But just as our food choices will make it hard to fit those skinny cords, what we eat can also impact our mood—for better and for worse.
So Everything She Wants asked Theresa Creamer, a registered dietician at the Montefiore-Einstein Center for Cancer Care in New York City, for advice on how to beat the winter blahs with 5 nutrient-packed foods.
Salmon: Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, herring and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are thought to have a positive effect on mood swings and feelings of depression. They also help reduce inflammation and the risk of developing heart disease.
Eggs: During the winter, we tend to hibernate and bundle up. So we make less vitamin D—“the sunshine vitamin”--because we have less exposure to the sun. That's why getting it from foods becomes even more important. Egg yolk is a great source of vitamin D, which can also be found in oily fish (salmon, herring and sardines) and fortified milk. Adequate vitamin D intake may be associated with various mood-related states including SAD, PMS and depression.
Spinach: Dark, leafy greens are high in folate and magnesium, which are both linked to serotonin production, a neurotransmitter that may affect brain functioning related to sleep, memory and mood. Not only will it potentially lift your spirits--increased serotonin levels may help you ward off winter weight gain by controlling your appetite.
Almonds: Almonds are high in magnesium and the amino acid tyrosine, and both may affect the production of mood influencing chemicals in the brain.
Dark Chocolate: Depriving yourself of sweet treats can make you grumpy, so indulging in chocolate—in moderation, of course—will give you a boost. Yay! But skip the milk chocolate and opt for dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidants and may activate pleasure pathways in the brain.