The days are shorter, the sun is not out for long and its bitter, bitter cold. You’re finding it harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning and you feel like you’re going through the motions, day in and day out.
You call it a funk. You call it feeling down. You call it moodiness.
But, it’s taking a toll on your health and nutrition goals. I get it.
Most commonly with Seasonal Affective Disorder, its an imbalance of Serotonin and Dopamine, which are both closely related to our food intake. Serotonin and Dopamine are both hormones in the body, the precursors to hormones are fats. Therefore, having heart healthy fats in our diets can help with hormone health overall.
Often with SAD, we get intense cravings of carbohydrates. This happens because serotonin is released after an increase in carbohydrates in our systems.Therefore, our bodies are craving more of the feel-good feeling that comes with serotonin, so it triggers the carb craving. We can help with the balance of serotonin by having good sources of complex carbs throughout the day, like whole grains, fruits and vegetables that have fibers in them to have a slow release of carbohydrates into the blood stream and balanced amounts of serotonin.
Dopamine gives you the relaxed feeling, protein sources like meats, poultry, seafood, soy, legumes are the precursors to dopamine. Having enough protein in the diet throughout the day can help with maintaining dopamine levels.
Other foods that can help during this time of year are dark leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale and other greens due to the balance of micronutrients and iron to help with oxygenation of blood cells.
Fatty fishes are helpful due to their omega-3 levels that support brain health and are healthy fats that help with balancing serotonin and dopamine.
Vitamin C sources like berries, kiwi, potatoes, broccoli and oranges will help with immune health to keep you healthy.
Lastly, sleep is vitally important during this time. Rest is essential for recovery and preparation for the next day. We need at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night to help our bodies rest and recover. Try going to bed earlier or putting your phone away earlier at night to calm your body before rest.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, whether its diagnosed or not, affects many people this time of year. The important part is taking care of you.