Fall comes with its many tiny pleasures, from bundling up in a favourite sweater, to sipping a spiced latte, or cooking up favourite comfort foods. But as November kicks in, the novelty of the season starts to wane, the days get darker, and the colder weather keeps us indoors more often. All told, it can start to take a toll on our morale. We can bolster our health, body and mind, by making savvy choices when it comes to our diet.
5 Nutrition Tips for Fighting the Winter Blues:
Go Fishing for Omega-3s
Feed your brain to stay in a positive mind set. Your brain needs omega-3 fats, an essential fatty acid that must be obtained from your diet. Fatty fishes like salmon, trout, sardines and vegetarian sources like flax seeds and walnuts are great sources. Aim for 2 servings per week of fatty fish (75 grams or 2.5 oz), and try adding 1 tablespoon (15 ml) of ground flax seeds in your morning yogurt or cereal.
Full of antioxidants and phytochemicals, fruits and veggies have many protective and health promoting qualities, including optimizing brain function. Try meatless Mondays, choose salads more often for lunch, or aim for a generous serving of veggies at most meals.
Sunshine Vitamin to the Rescue
Getting optimal amounts of Vitamin D have shown to have protective effects on our brain. From November to April, the sun rays cannot provide us with sufficient Vitamin D, hence the importance of getting this vitamin from our diet. Focus on foods where Vitamin D is naturally occurring like fatty fishes and egg yolks, or from fortified foods like cow’s milk, some soy and rice beverages, margarine or yogurt. Talk to your Registered Dietitian about a Vitamin D supplement during the winter months if you are concerned you may not be getting enough in your diet.
Move More and Be Happy!
Studies show that regular moderate exercise can help fight symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. It allows the release of endorphins, which make you feel good! Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, at least 5 days a week. Take advantage of your lunch hour to go out for a short brisk walk with your friends or colleagues, or head out to a lunch time yoga class.
Did you know that the brain uses about 20% of the energy we eat? Providing too much or not enough energy to our brain can impair our ability to focus at work and make us more irritable. Pack a healthy lunch to avoid fast food and vending machine temptations that may leave you feeling lethargic. Ditch the candy drawer, which gives you a quick high followed by an energy crash. If you tend to get hungry between meals, grab an apple with a small piece of cheese to keep you focused until meal time!