As the colder months approach, it’s not uncommon to experience the “winter blues” or a dip in mood, making it tempting to eat to make ourselves feel better. In fact, recent consumer research found that 63% of Australian adults expect to gain weight in winter, with the average being 2.63kg per person! Although having a treat can make us feel better straight away, there are healthier choices we can make to improve and sustain our moods in the long term.
Here are our top five 5 mood boosting foods to fight the winter blues:
1. Omega-3 rich fish: Your brain’s best friend
We know that our brain holds the key to regulating our emotions and mood, but did you know 60% of our brain and nervous system is composed of fat? This fat-rich network plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal brain function, and ultimately our mood. Fueling our brain and nervous system with omega-3 fats is the best way to help the nervous system avoid slowing down and continue to help regulate our mood. Think incorporating oily fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and herring around 2-3 times a week in fish cakes or with a lemon and ginger marinade with turmeric rice.
2. Nuts: Tiny powerhouses for your mood and mind
Nuts provide a host of benefits for both the brain and mood. Packed with nutrients like healthy fats, antioxidants, and essential vitamins, nuts offer a natural boost to brain function. Additionally, nuts contain mood-enhancing compounds like serotonin and magnesium, which can help regulate mood and promote a sense of well-being. Whether you’re enjoying a handful of hot spiced nuts as a snack or adding nuts to a warming sweet potato soup, know that you’re nourishing your brain and uplifting your mood with each bite.
3. Legumes: Protein-packed mood elevators
Legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and kidney beans are not only excellent sources of plant-based protein but also low GI powerhouses. These versatile foods are packed with essential nutrients like folate, magnesium, and iron, which play a crucial role in maintaining mood balance. Enjoy a hearty bowl of tangy lentil soup with silverbeet and zucchini, whip up some pumpkin hummus for a nutritious snack, or create this delicious Mediterranean vegetable and cannellini bean salad to keep your spirits high this winter.
4. Berries: Bursting with goodness and antioxidants
Low GI berries such as blueberries, strawberries and raspberries are rich in vitamin C and anthocyanins, which have been linked to improved mood and cognitive function. Snack on a handful of berries, blend them into a smoothie, or top your yoghurt or oatmeal with a colourful medley of these nutrient powerhouses to uplift your mood in the cooler months.
Starting your mornings with a hearty bowl of oatmeal is guaranteed to kick-start your day on a positive note. Oats have a low GI, meaning they provide a sustained release of energy and help keep your blood sugar levels stable. They are also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid essential for serotonin production. Try overnight oats topped with mood-boosting fruits like berries, or sprinkle a handful of nuts for added crunch and healthy fats.
The foods we eat play a significant role in our well-being, and when it comes to combating the winter blues and maintaining a good mood, choosing low glycemic index (GI) foods is key. Remember, a balanced diet is just one aspect of maintaining mental well-being. It’s important to prioritise self-care and seek professional guidance if needed.