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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 continued...

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 levels.

"If weight gain in the winter months is your concern," Heller says, "you should get a healthy eating plan from a registered dietitian."

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 drugged."

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.

Foods to Have on Hand

If you suffer from seasonal affective disorder, you may be too shot to run to the store. This can work for you if you keep fairly healthful commodities in the pantry. Some suggestions:

Popcorn
Oatmeal (original, not desserty)
Nuts
Egg whites for omelets
Peanut butter
Prewashed veggies
Fruit
Whole grain crackers and bread
Deli turkey
Cottage cheese

Forget the candlelight. In winter, dinner calls for 300 watts, hold the shade!

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