You know what I’m speaking of; the long, cold, dreary, overcast, gray days of winter. So bleak outside, one feels housebound or depressed. I know that feeling well. I am definitely a sunny personality and moving from Arizona to NE Ohio has been a learning experience.
“A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” (Proverbs 17:22)
Feel the same? Wise food choices can help you to control and even overcome the depression that sometimes comes along with gloomy days.
Foods can absolutely improve your mood without adding pounds, which will make you feel even more depressed. Here’s how:
Increase your fish intake. A study in Wales discovered that those who ate less fish were more apt to become anxious, irritable, lethargic and generally grumpy. When fish was added to their diet they improved a great deal. The reason? Seafood is very high in selenium, a trace mineral which will improve your outlook on life.
Not only does fish elevate one’s mood but it is beneficial to combatting lupus, glaucoma, psoriasis, macular degeneration, MS, ADHD and Parkinson’s disease as well as so many illnesses. No wonder Jesus consumed so much fish!
Brazil Nuts: I used to joke with my patients, “Take two Brazil nuts and call me in the morning.” Once again Brazil nuts contain a great deal of selenium. However it is toxic in large doses so only take two a day! In this case, more is not better.
Stock up your pantry and fridge with foods high in Folic acid. Especially fresh spinach and dark greens! It’s easy to do if you’ll eat green salads each day. Or find your favorite Florentine Fish recipe. Double the happy-go-lucky nutrients!
Researches studied a group of patients who took lithium for depression. Exchanging folic acid tablets for the drug saw remarkable improvement over their depression in six months. What foods one consumes does matter, so choose wisely. Garbage in, garbage out.
Caffeine is a mood lifter but don’t overdo it. As a diuretic, it will deplete B vitamins which ironically both calm nerves and yet with its conversion of carbohydrates into energy, revs up metabolism. (If you have frazzled nerves, consume whole grains like oatmeal couscous and quinoa.)
I would never recommend caffeinated sodas which have no nutritional value! Rather choose 2 cups of coffee or tea loaded with powerful antioxidants and polyphenols which protect your overall health.
Chocolate: Of course it improves your mood! Why do you think you crave the item when you are feeling low? Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a feel-good mood elevator, making one feel contented and loved. The darker the better – but of course don’t overeat or you’ll get depressed after you’ve gained weight!
Garlic: No wonder Mediterranean countries are usually so active and happy. I always reach for any garlic-infused recipe on overcast days. Garlic, containing B6, restores our good mood and improves circulation, which removes irritating toxins.
Hot spicy foods. Since I recently wrote about increasing metabolic foods, I won’t go into detail here except to give an illustration. When someone consumes a hot chili pepper for example, (or horseradish wasabi, Buffalo wings, etc.) one’s hypothalamus, alerted to the possibility of pain, rushes little “firemen” with hoses filled with serotonin to our brain to tamper down those effects on our pain receptors. This of course naturally makes us feel great!
Most importantly, be aware of how, why and what you eat. Don’t eat emotionally or out of control. God wants us healthy and has provided ways of escape. (I Corinthians 10:13) He created us with a brain. Continue counting your blessings.