A few friends of mine have been having a tough time with the gray days of January, claiming they're really taking a toll on their mood. They're napping more, drinking more coffee, and having a hard time getting to the gym. We had lunch the other day, and all got to talking about what foods could actually help boost energy and moods in the winter. It turns out there are quite a few good bets!The thing to consider when buying and preparing food specifically to boost your mood or endorphins is to think about what food makes you happy (as in what foods you really enjoy eating). Forget the science for a minute: if you hate salmon, then preparing salmon simply because it's thought to boost your mood isn't going to make for a very enjoyable meal. So consider these lists with that in mind: first, think about what you can prepare for yourself that will taste really delicious and be an overall satisfying sensory experience, and second, reach for food that's actually good for you. After a bit of reading and chatting with many friends, here are a few foods I've found help me feel better in the winter:
1. Complex Carbohydrates: Good carbs and whole grains like oats or whole-wheat pasta are said to generate serotonin which helps balance your mood and satisfies your hunger. 2. Avocado: The monounsaturated fats in avocados apparently help lower blood pressure, keeping your mood calm and balanced. 3. Dairy: Many dairy products contain Vitamin D, which is thought to boost serotonin and help with seasonal mood disorders. When the weather turns particularly gray, a glass of milk might just be in order. 4. Fish: Fatty fish like salmon contains a high level of Omega 3's which is thought to lower symptoms of depression. 5. Green Tea: Tea is emotionally soothing for many people in and of itself, but green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid some say improves mood while reducing stress. 6. Almonds and Walnuts: Many nuts have been shown to decrease dopamine levels in the brain, leading to a calm, balanced feeling. 7. Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate is said to have positive effects on brain endorphins, resulting in a feeling of comfort and balance. How about almonds and chocolate together for a mood-powerhouse?
Megan is a freelance writer and recipe developer. Her cookbook, Whole-Grain Mornings, will be available in bookstores nationwide Dec/2013. Megan also owns the Seattle-based artisan cereal company, Marge Granola.
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