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HEALTHY HAPPY MEALS TO COMBAT THE WINTER BLUES

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD, is much too real in the blistering winter of Canada. And in other parts of the country, temperatures are far below freezing and snow continues to fall with no end in sight. Trust me, people are affected, and they are sad.

We have learnt to live with this vicious cycle. We’ve tried light therapy, regular gym workouts, and hot yoga. It’s all been done. And they help to a certain extent, but as far as feeling blue, perhaps the effects would be more easily diminished from within. It’s no secret that our mood is often improved by nourishing the internal system, so maybe we should do the same to combat the winter blues.

Try eating more of these foods to combat SAD.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

We already know how valuable omega-3 fatty acids are for our body. They can help lower triglyceride levels, reduce arthritis, and even benefit disorders and diseases like ADHD and Alzheimer’s. Did you know that it’s also been proven to help with depression? Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids help maintain brain chemicals, dopamine and serotonin, at a healthy level. Results have also shown that SAD is much less observed in people who live off a high-omega-3s diet, like the Icelandic people who consume mainly coldwater fish.

Foods to eat: flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, coldwater fish

Recipes:

Braised Fennel Salmon

Hemp and Flaxseed Cookies

Walnut Blue Cheese Spread

2. Complex Carbohydrates

Although SAD sufferers often have cravings for carbohydrates, it’s not the best excuse to binge on a box of doughnuts. After all, not all carbs are created equal. The reason why SAD people often reach for carby food is because carbohydrates increase the production of serotonin. But many carbs can affect blood-sugar level dramatically, causing insulin spikes and sugar crashes, which only enhances the existing symptoms. Instead, incorporate healthier, complex carbs like pulses and brown rice into your meals. And if you really feel like snacking, reach for the healthy shredded wheaties or make some organic popcorn on the stovetop.

Foods to eat: pulses, potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal

Recipes:

Hasselback Potato Casserole

Easy Brown Rice and Beans

Creamy Banana Almond Oatmeal

3. Vitamin D

How can we not talk about the “sunshine vitamin” when we’re getting a lack of it? Shorter days mean less sunshine, and less sunshine means less vitamin D. So it’s important to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamin D from your diet. Studies have shown that depressed people or those suffering with SAD showed improvement with increased consumption of vitamin D. Canada’s daily recommended intake is 600 UI for children and adults. Consult your doctor to see if you’re vitamin-D deficient.

Foods to eat: fatty fish, milk, yoghurt, cheese, fortified milks

Recipes:

Panko-Crusted Ahi Tuna

Chia Hemp Breakfast Smoothie

Cottage Cheese Spread

4. Tryptophan

It’s really all about the serotonin, isn’t it? A good way to increase serotonin production is by consuming foods with tryptophan, which is the chemical that serotonin is made from. This chemical helps with relaxation, stress alleviation, mood lifting, and sleep improvement! A lot of people who suffer from SAD tend to nap often, sleep a lot, but not actually get enough quality sleep. This chemical could be the simple solution to your frustrating winter blues!

Foods to eat: turkey, chicken, bananas, pumpkin, red meat, tofu, eggs, pulses, oats

Recipes:

Beef Bourguignon

Turkey and Apple Stuffed Pumpkins

Breakfast Burritos with Sweet Potato Hash and Black Beans

Hopefully these foods will cure you of any frustrating symptoms. But it’s always important to consult a professional if you’re taking supplements or further steps. Do you find yourself riddled with Seasonal Affective Disorder each winter? Share with us any methods or foods that have helped you deal with the winter blues.

Daniel Huang

Daniel is a Digital Marketing and Content Strategist at SPUD. He graduated from UBC with a degree in English and International Relations with a focus on environmental topics. A wordsmith by day and a bookman by night, he's a self-proclaimed gastronomic snob, a buck-a-shuck addict, a sub-par skier, and a devoted kingsguard of the oxford comma. He also frequents the dog park with a schnauzer named Duke. | Instagram: @dannnyellow

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