Part 1 of Blog Series, “Combating Seasonal Affective Disorder”
By Jennifer Keirstead, Holistic Nutritionist
Do you get the winter blues, and eat more sugar and junk food than you care to admit?
The weather and season affects our mood and health in profound ways. The lack of sunlight affects our serotonin and melatonin levels, and disrupts our circadian rhythm – the body’s internal clock for sleeping based on exposure to light.
Seasonal Affective Disorder “SAD” is characterized by the onset of depression at certain times of year. Even if you don’t develop all the clinical symptoms of SAD, the most cheerful among us can still feel these seasonal effects. From low energy, irritability, depression, and cravings for carbohydrates and sweets, the symptoms of SAD can be difficult to manage.
From a Nutritional standpoint, there’s a lot you can incorporate in your diet alone to help your body adapt to the darker days and combat SAD:
- Omega 3 fatty acids from food and/or supplement capsules. Dietary sources include hemp seeds and oil, flax meal and oil, wild fish, sesame seeds, walnuts and chia seeds. These fats have a powerful role in helping cells take up essential hormones, including those involved in mood regulation. Having enough Omega 3 in your diet helps prevent depression, heart disease, inflammation, and strengthens the immune system.
- Eggs from free-range chickens are packed full of choline, which has been shown to regulate mood and energy levels.
- Sprouted, whole grain breads are easier on the digestive tract than regular wheat bread, and is lower in sugar. This helps prevent your levels of blood sugar from crashing, and will helps maintain our energy and ultimately our mood.
- Protein is essential for energy and stamina, and helps your brain produce dopamine, norepinephrine, and other neurochemicals that keep you calm yet alert.
- Fresh, raw vegetables, ideally organic, which are packed full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes.
- Nutritional supplements such as super greens, Vitamin D and all the B’s are essential to keep your immune system revved up, and have more energy and vitality.
What should you skip in your diet to prevent the winter blues?
Sugar. We know, this isn’t as easy as it sounds but give it a try. Next time you are feeling particularly low, pass on the cookies and indulge in a serving of sashimi instead.
Eat well this winter to improve your mood and well being!