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Eat Away The Blues

Try these 10 foods to boost your mood

Your alarm goes off in the morning and it’s still dark out. You peel back your cozy blankets and you’re pummeled by a wave of frigid air. The robot in your phone gives you a weather report that makes you want to cry. You trudge to work in the drizzly rain and arrive with wet feet and a bad attitude. And when it’s time for food, the last thing you feel like eating is a salad. Does any of this sound familiar?

We get it. When the weather sucks, it can get you down big time. Comfort food might seem like the best remedy – and it can be! As long as you’re eating wisely.

You know the saying “You are what you eat”? Well there’s definitely truth to it! The foods you eat can impact how you feel. Sound like some hippy voodoo stuff? Nope. This is science, people! And it’s great news for anyone out there feeling down with the winter blues.

The general rule for a happier mindset is eating less junk food and sweets, and eating more fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables.  Check out these mood-boosting meal ideas and let us know what other tips you have for conquering the cold months.

1. Lean Meats

For all you carnivores out there, lean proteins are a great way to fuel up and have enough energy to actually enjoy the winter. They carry a load of amino acids which may help improve your mood. So now let’s have a refresher course on what qualifies as a “lean meat” (since you probably hear that phrase all the time). These meats are high in protein and low in fat and calories.

For example: skinless chicken and salmon are always great options. (Salmon is also packed with omega-3s! Bonus!) When it comes to pork or beef, choose a tenderloin or sirloin for a leaner cut of meat. For ground beef or turkey, grab the 95% lean (or higher) – it’s worth the extra buck. And for our seafood lovers, check out white-fleshed fish like cod, pollock, tilapia, or halibut.

2. Blueberries

Feeling blue? Grab a handful of blueberries!! Not only are they high in vitamin C and vitamin E, they’ve also been shown to help you calm the freak down during stressful situations. 

How? They prevent release of cortisol, which is the chemical released in your brain to give you an emotional response. In one study, researchers subjected 120 poor souls to a public speaking challenge and math exam. The ones who had been given vitamin C prior had much lower levels of stress.

So, #KeepCalm and have a blueberry! We recommend this Blueberry Almond Smoothie for a quick pick-me-up.

3. Omega-3 fatty acids

Question. Does anyone else think “Omega-3” sounds like a Greek constellation or really cool avatar name? … Just us? Well in reality it’s neither of those, but it is really cool! Omega-3 fatty acids are a nutrient that can do wonders for your body and mental health. One study found that people were less likely to experience depression when they had higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Where can you acquire this wonderfulness? The top three foods for omega-3 fatty acids are flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon. Or you can take supplements! We’re getting ourselves a bottle right now. #TrueStory

4. Turkey

Turkey time means #NapTime! If you’ve ever had a big Thanksgiving dinner feat. turkey, you know what we’re talking about. That’s because it contains the amino acid tryptophan and melatonin hormone. Both of these are calming, relaxing, and even sleep inducing. So if you want a natural way to chillax during stressful situations, try grabbing a turkey leg! (Or sandwich, or burger, or soup.) We love this recipe for Turkey Tortilla Soup.

5. Bananas

Bananas are like long-distant cousins of turkeys. They both contain tryptophan! Plus bananas have potassium and antioxidants like dopamine that fuel your brain. And magnesium, which can improve sleep and reduce anxiety. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, try a banana as a before-bedtime snack. And nobody can deny bananas are easy to find, easy to transport, and easy to eat. And even if they get bruised, you can throw them in a smoothie or make banana bread. #ProBanana

6. Oatmeal

A warm bowl of oatmeal can be super comforting, especially in winter! Unlike refined carbs (white bread and pasta) which digest fast and spike your blood sugar, oatmeal is a complex carb that takes its sweet time digesting and doesn’t mess with your blood sugar. You can also get folic acid from oatmeal, which your body can use to create serotonin – the stuff that helps make you feel #happy!

7. Vitamin B-12

Another way to prevent feeling low is keeping your vitamin B-12 levels high. These vitamins are all over the place if you know where to look. Animal liver and  kidneys (if you’re into that sort of thing), clams, sardines, oysters, lean beef, wild salmon, eggs, milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, and fortified cereals. See, you’re likely getting enough B-12s already! #Winning

8. Sunshine! (AKA Vitamin-D)

Everyone needs Vitamin D! Besides the physical health benefits, it can also help lower your risk of depression. Ok, so absorbing sunlight isn’t necessarily a menu item. BUT you can get vitamin-D in other ways too! Foods like milk, egg yolks, mushrooms, and fatty fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, tuna, and eel. If you’re feeling #LAZY you can take supplements or go sit outside in the sunlight. But we prefer eating. Try this Wild Mushroom Quiche for a double vitamin-D whammy.

9. Dark Chocolate

Best news you’ve heard all day, right? Now you don’t have to feel so guilty when you self-medicate with a chocolate bar! Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which can boost your mood, calm you down, and help you feel more content. Just make sure it’s not a tub of chocolate ice cream, and it should definitely be consumed in moderation. Look for chocolate with the highest cocoa content. It may not be as sweet, but it’s just as comforting! #ChocolateBliss

10. Nuts

If you aren’t already, it’s time to get #NutsAboutNuts. Cashews. Walnuts. Almonds. Peanuts. Pistachios. And did we mention walnuts? All of these little guys are packed with vitamin-B, a heavy hitter for improving our mental health. Vitamin-B helps us handle stress like a champion by keeping our neurotransmitters in their happy places. And don’t forget the potassium! Ohhh the potassium. Some smarty-pants researchers found that eating potassium-packed pistachios daily may help lower blood pressure and help out your heart. So, there you have it. Go nuts!

– The goodNes Crew

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