Boost your winter mood with food

February 4, 2009 3:09:41 PM PST
If you've got the mid-winter blues, you're not alone. Less sunshine and colder temperatures can lead to depression and exhaustion for many people. But there are healthy things you can eat to help beat the blues.

If the snow and cloudy skies have you down in dumps....

Registered dietician Althea Zanecosky says there are healthy foods that can boost your spirit.

Protein-rich foods have several compounds that can do the trick. Selenium is one... It's found in fish and lean meats.

"People who don't get enough selenium are cranky, anxious, depressed," she says, noting several studies.

Another mood enhancer in proteins are the Omega-3 fatty acids, already known for helping the heart.

But , she says, "Not only are they good for our heart, they are good for our brain."

Omega 3's can be found in fish like salmon, some nuts, and in some fortified foods.

Zanecosky says it's normal to crave carbohydrates in winter. For thousands of years, humans needed extra carbs in winter to add body fat as a cushion against the cold.

Plus, when there's less sunlight, we turn to carbs to make more of the brain chemical serotonin, which regulates mood.

But to keep from devouring bad carbs.... Zanecosky says try complex carbs like rice or beans.

Zanecosky says, "People do lose weight when they eat rice regularly, because it probably gives you that serotonin, and serotonin helps you feel good about the world."

She has one more tip - eat a breakfast that combines proteins and good carbs, like cereal, or whole grain bread. It will help you be more alert in the morning - often a challenge in winter.

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