Feeling down this winter? This condition, known as seasonal affective disorder, is common due to the lack of sunlight. There are a number of things you can do to counteract these negative feelings, such as diet and exercise. Try these foods to improve your mood!
Foods to Improve Your Mood
The best foods to maintain a good mood are those that contribute to steady blood sugar levels. Incorporate more of these foods for increased energy levels and stabilized mood:
- Cashews, almonds, hazelnuts
- Low levels of magnesium can negatively affect your energy levels.
- Brazil nuts
- Low levels of selenium have also been associated with poorer moods. Smaller amounts of this mineral are found in seafood, meats, whole grains, and beans.
- Lean meats
- Lean meats such as pork, beef, turkey, and chicken contain the amino acid tyrosine, which increases levels of norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. These two brain chemicals can increase alertness and focus.
- Salmon (and other fatty fish)
- Heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids help decrease the risk of depression.
- Leafy greens
- Folate, commonly found in leafy green veggies, may help protect against depression. Other sources of folate include citrus fruits, legumes, and nuts.
- Coffee and tea
- Caffeine can improve concentration, memory, and reaction time all while providing a short-term energy burst.
- Dark chocolate
- Dark chocolate contains small amounts of caffeine – providing a delicious, mood-boosting treat. Just be sure to stick with a 1 oz. serving.
- Smart carbs
- Whole grains play an important role in promoting a good mood and delivering an energy boost. Good sources of whole grains include quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, and whole wheat bread.
- Fiber helps keep energy levels constant throughout the day. Great sources of fiber include beans, whole grains, veggies, and fruits.
- While most people wouldn’t attribute low water intake with energy levels, even mild dehydration can affect metabolism and drain energy.
- People who regularly eat breakfast have a better mood during the day than those who skip this important meal.
- Frequent meals
- Eating small snacks every 3-4 hours can result in a more constant energy level and mood than the consumption of a few large meals.
- Exercise isn’t a food but it does help combat depression. During exercise, your brain releases endorphins and is a natural mood-booster. The more active you are, the greater the benefit to your physical and your emotional health. It may relieve depression and contribute to an enhanced energy level throughout the day.
If you need help crushing your dietary goals in the New Year, let’s start with a free nutrition consultation. You can meet with me one-on-one to discuss your current habits and we’ll determine a realistic plan of action!Schedule a Nutrition Consultation
Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian
Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.