The golden days of autumn are over and suddenly it’s here: the bleak winter sky. Cold temperatures and dark days can really affect your mood. Did you know that changing your nutrition can cheer you up? It’s true, some foods really make you feel happier. So, get ready to say goodbye to the fall and winter blues!
Fall and winter blues — what causes it?
Going to work in the dark and coming home in the dark: one cause of seasonal affective disorder — also known as fall or winter depression — is the lack of daylight. This can lead to lower production of the happy hormone, serotonin. Plus, production of the sleep hormone, melatonin, is higher in the winter. The result is that we feel lazy, tired, and unmotivated.
Natural Mood Boosters Cheer Us Up
The good news: there are different foods that can increase our body’s production of serotonin. Studies have shown that a low level of serotonin in your blood can have a negative effect on your mood.(1) Foods rich in this hormone cheer you up naturally. But there are also other food components that can have this effect.
Integrate these 7 good mood foods into your diet:
Walnuts, cashews, or almonds: nuts are the ideal snack to brighten your mood. They contain tryptophan, an amino acid important for the production of serotonin.
Eggs supply vitamin D, which helps fight the winter blues. Vitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, is created from direct sunlight on our skin. It is also found in foods like fish, eggs, dairy products, and mushrooms.
We need to be especially careful about getting enough vitamin D when the days get shorter in the fall and winter. If we are lacking the sunshine vitamin, we will feel tired and run down. Make sure you are consuming enough foods rich in vitamin D. You may even want to take supplements in the winter.
Fatty, cold water fish like herring provides serotonin and is also rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which are said to help mild depression. A meta analysis published in August 2019 evaluated 26 studies(2)that support the finding that omega 3 fatty acids would have beneficial effects on the symptoms of depression (such as fatigue, lack of energy, irritability, sleep disorders, or lack of appetite).
Good to know:
Walnuts, flax seeds, and vegetable oils are also rich in the essential omega 3 fatty acids. By the way, herring is high in vitamin D, too.
Dried fruits like dates and dried figs are a delicious way to improve your mood. Along with tryptophan, they have plenty of magnesium. Studies confirm that including enough magnesium in your diet improves your ability to deal with stress.(3)
When you’re feeling down in the dumps, sometimes there’s only one thing to do: eat chocolate! The tryptophan in dark chocolate can indeed make you happy. Since chocolate often contains a lot of sugar and fat, it should be enjoyed in moderation. Interested in learning more about this delicious treat? We’ve put together the 5 most important facts about chocolate.
You like it hot? That’s great! Hot ingredients like chili, jalapeño, or other hot peppers can work wonders on a bad mood. This is thanks to Capsaicin, the active ingredient in peppers that makes them hot. Endorphins are released in reaction to the irritation caused by spicy food. The body produces endorphins naturally to cope with pain and make you happy.
Another benefit of chili: this good mood food heats you up from the inside.