Feeling down? Looking to put a smile on face? How about the kids? Here are some easy tips to boost your mood! Spoiler alert, many have to do with what you eat! Learn more and get a few tips from our Registered Dietitian. While this post is sponsored by the Watermelon Board, all tips and our goal to help boost your mood our own own!
We are in the winter season, which means there is less sunshine (yes, that even happens here in Florida, we may not get freezing by your standards, but it is for us!), and many people may find themselves feeling down, or depressed. This condition is called S.A.D (Seasonal Affective Disorder). For many people (including me!) winter is a season when moods go south. Lower temperatures, less daylight, and more time indoors can make you feel sluggish and even sad.
Dealing with seasonal mood changes looks different for everyone. I suggest changing up your routine by improving sleep, spending more time outdoors and looking at what you are eating each day.
If you are prone to this condition, here are a few things to consider:
Think about what you’re eating.
If you’re feeling down or battling the winter blues, chances are you’re craving carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this won’t help…even though that beautiful loaf of bread seems like it will 😉 Challenge yourself to eat more protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. I promise, you’ll feel better, both physically and emotionally. A good idea is to not have too many bad carbs (You know the ones—cookies, cakes, sugars, chips, white flour products, etc.) around. Remember, it’s all about balance!
What you eat can affect how you feel.
We chatted with Sally, one of our favorite fellow moms and a RD and she gave us some of her tips on foods, nutrients and how they can affect your mood, this is what she said:
There’s not one magical food or nutrient that can erase a gloomy mood, but your overall diet does have an impact on how you feel, for better or worse. Here are some steps to put into action this month–and follow all year long:
Eat enough: January is a month of crash diets–aptly named, since they typically crash and burn. Though it may be tempting to scale way back after so many rich foods over the holidays, cutting calories too much can make you feel tired and irritable. That’s especially true if you restrict carbohydrates, the preferred source of fuel for your body and brain.
Consider foods with high quality carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, beans, peas, lentils, brown rice, wild rice, barley, sweet potatoes, and oatmeal to maintain your moods.
High quality carbohydrates that are metabolized slowly will result in stable blood sugar levels, and fewer mood swings. To banish the blues, choose foods that are high in soluble fiber, which can be found in the foods mentioned above.
Get fruits and vegetables at most meals and snacks: Produce contains a variety of nutrients linked to better moods, like magnesium in leafy greens, a mineral that’s been linked to less risk for depression. Watermelon in particular has a high presence of B6, which is an important vitamin proven to calm nerves. Fruits and veggies contain antioxidants, naturally-occurring protective plant compounds that may work in different ways to affect brain function and mood. In one study, people who regularly ate fruits and vegetables had overall lower rates of depression. Not sure how to encourage the family to snack on fruits and veggies during the day? Try making a snack board. Every time I make one, I’m surprised how fast it’s gone!
Serve fatty fish: Fish such as salmon and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids, a kind of fat found in the brain that we must get from foods. Some research suggests that omega-3 fats can help with things like concentration and behavior in kids–and in improving mood for adults, especially among women. I can’t wait to try this Roasted Salmon with Watermelon Salsa.
Stay hydrated: Ever had a headache from skimping on fluids? Mild dehydration can also worsen your mood, suggests some research. I know it can be hard to get in your recommended amount of water when it’s cold outside, so try infusing your water. A few of our favorite infused water combinations are: Watermelon + Mint and Cantaloupe + Honeydew Melon + Watermelon. Keep in mind that water isn’t the only fluid that counts. All drinks, including caffeinated ones, can help you stay hydrated. In fact, green tea contains antioxidants associated with lower rates of depression in some research. Try this Strawberry Watermelon Fruit Slushie or our Watermelon Cucumber Smoothie. Fruits and vegetables like watermelon and cucumber contain water and can help keep you hydrated.
Include fermented foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and even sourdough bread are fermented, which means they’ve been naturally preserved by bacteria. That makes them good for the “microbiome”, the name for the trillions of bacteria that live in the gut. It’s believed that our microbiome has an impact on many aspects of health, including mental health.
Have some chocolate. We insist. Including a sweet treat every day is totally fine, and chocolate is an ideal choice. In some research, people who ate dark chocolate every day showed lower levels of stress hormones. That could be because cocoa is rich in a lot of beneficial plant compounds that affect the nervous system. Or it could be because chocolate just makes people happy. Either way, it’s a win.
Here are some additional tips to help boost your mood:
Get Some Light, Get Outside!
Using light therapy to improve your mood is highly effective. First, try sitting near a sunny window or if you have a sunroom, spend most of your time in there. Just seeing the sunshine can put a smile on your face. Plus, the Vitamin D is good for us :).
Is the sun not peeking out from those gray winter skies? Bring the beach home. Pin pictures of a tropical island on your refrigerator, car visor, and/or bathroom mirror. Relax with a tropical drink as you listen to a Reggae station on Pandora or turn your sound machine on “ocean.” Visualize the warmth and sun to get away from the cold and snow. Your mind is a powerful thing, think sunny thoughts!
Looking for some fun things to do this winter to boost your mood? Here are a few fun ideas:
Play “Iron Chef.” Have a little fun steering clear of the fatty, sugary foods you may be craving. Challenge your friends – or just yourself! – to a round of “Iron Chef.” Make your “secret ingredient” a serotonin-boosting food, like watermelon, to keep your mood high. Here are a few unconventional ways to use watermelon to get your creative juices flowing.
Play Some Games. Although it may be tempting to spend your free time napping on the couch, it’s important to stay active too. Host a Wii Sports tournament in your living room, or take up a winter sport, such as cross-country skiing, for sunny winter days.
Celebrate! Having something to look forward to and an excuse to socialize can take away the sting of the winter blues. Start planning a “Groundhog’s Day” or “First Day of Spring” party. Find all the obscure holidays that occur in the winter months and celebrate as many as you can.
Try A New Winter Craft. Get your creative juices flowing, and both your home and your mood will thank you for it! Pinterest provides tons of ideas when you search for “winter crafts.”
Learn Something New. Pick up a class in the fall that will continue through the winter. Athletic, crafty, academic – whatever you choose, make it something that you’re passionate about. Recruit friends to join you, too, so that they can encourage you to continue attending when you’re feeling less than eager.
Foods can be a powerful “drug”, especially when foods influence the activity of the chemicals that convey information from one neuron to the next. Anything that affects these chemicals affect your mood!
Work some of the foods mentioned above into your routine. Get some light. Try something new. Snack on watermelon and other fresh fruits and vegetables between meals and it will have a better impact on your mood.