It is common to feel down in the cold months following the holiday season. Days are shorter, the sun isn’t shining as much, and sickness is more common. These factors can drive you to feel sluggish and unmotivated. The good news: you can combat all that with the right diet! Having the winter weather blues is tough enough, but when you’re not getting all the right nutrients it can only get worse. Here’s how to find out if what you’re lacking this season is more than just warmth and sunshine.
- Folate and vitamin B12 may influence mood by playing a role in the production of serotonin, production a neurotransmitter in your brain that contributes to feelings of well-being and happiness. Add foods rich in folate and/or vitamin B12, such as fortified whole-grain breakfast cereals, lentils, oatmeal, beets, shellfish, wild salmon, low-fat dairy and eggs., to boost your consumption of these two important nutrients.
- Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin, because it can be synthesized as a result of exposure of the skin to sunlight. During the darker winter months make sure your diet includes good sources of vitamin D such as low-fat milk, fortified soy milk and egg yolks. It may be beneficial to take a daily multivitamin.
- Vitamin A is important primarily for good vision, the immune system, and cellular health. . Deficiency of vitamin A causes dry skin, night blindness, and poor immunity. Therefore, it’s especially important for surviving the winter season whenever darkness, dry skin, and colds take over. Vitamin A rich foods include sweet potatoes, carrots, leafy greens, cantaloupe, and apricots
- Essential Fatty Acids are fats that our bodies need, but can’t create or use as fuel. EFAs affect the function of our cells as well as our moods and behavior. An EFA deficiency leads to dry skin, poor circulation, and mood swings, and we already suffer enough from those in winter. Foods with essential fatty acids include fish cantaloupe, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
- On another note, regular exercise can relieve depression and trigger physiological changes that make more energy available throughout the day. Try to keep your routine up, even when the weather gets chilly. Your body will thank you for it.
To get optimal nutrition this season at the Dining Commons, choose the SPE meal option found under the red TASTE banner. SPE meals are certified to have all the nutrients you need all on one tasty plate. Find out more about SPE meals at UC Davis here!