Foods That Fight Winter Depression
When long nights bring on a long face, this can mean seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here are some tips to help fight off the winter blues.
More Nutritional Tips for Raising Mood in Winter
Ross also recommends a nutritional supplement called 5HTP
(5-hydroxytryptophan), which raises serotonin levels. This is not for everybody
-- read the label carefully. For instance, people with heart problems should
not take it. Also remember that supplements such as this one are not as closely
regulated by the government and may contain questionable substances. Ross says
5HTP should only be taken for a short period, to bump up serotonin levels,
which will then stay elevated. "You don't take it forever," she
Protein, she says, should be
eaten three times a day. Another good rule is to eat four cups of brightly
colored veggies a day. "This is enough to fill a (pardon the expression) 1
quart ice cream container." Vegetables are carbs, but the kind that feed
into your system slowly.
Samantha Heller, MS, RD, senior clinical nutritionist at the NYU Medical
Center, tells WebMD it's best to substitute fruit for cookies and chocolate ice
cream. In general, the good carbs of veggies, fruit, and beans help energy
"If weight gain in the winter
months is your concern," Heller says, "you should get a healthy eating plan from a
Timing Is Also Everything
It's fashionable to urge people to eat half a dozen small meals a day, but
this is an individual preference, Heller says.
"If you eat lunch at one o'clock and know you won't have dinner until
eight o'clock, you may need a snack. If you eat junk food for lunch, by four
o'clock you will be foraging for chocolate."
She urges people to try eliminating all white, starchy foods for two weeks
-- bread, rice, potatoes. "You will be amazed at how good you feel,"
she says. "But you need to stick to it to see a difference."
Even as a nutritionist, she admits to having experienced the opposite.
"I was going to visit my mother and bought a muffin for her and one for
me," she says. "After I ate it, I felt like I had been
That's another thing about seasonal affective disorder -- the lows are
lower. If you are already serotonin-challenged, what you eat will have a bigger
impact than in summer.