Winter’s dreary and dark days can zap your mood and energy levels, and can result in a type of seasonal depression or “winter blues” affecting what, when and how you eat. While its cause remains unclear, diet plays a role in the prevention and treatment of depression.
Below, GIANT Food Stores and MARTIN’S Food Markets’ nutritionists offer their suggestions to combat the “winter blues.”
What we eat
• Studies have shown that depressive symptoms are associated with overconsumption of sweets and fast food. Instead, reach for fruits and vegetables, fish, whole grains and olive oil, such as a Mediterranean diet pattern. Diets rich in these foods have been associated with a reduced risk of depression.
• Omega-3 fatty acids have received a significant amount of attention because of their positive impact on depression. Depressed individuals have been found to have lower levels of omega-3 fats in their blood work. In order to get enough omega-3 fats in your diet, eat foods such as fatty fish, walnuts and flax seeds.
• Check out the Savory Recipe Center online on the GIANT or MARTIN’S websites for great recipe ideas.
When we eat
• Our brains rely on a consistent fuel supply in order to function properly so eating small, balanced meals every 3-4 hours may help to keep blood sugar levels consistent. Going long periods without eating can cause blood sugar levels to drop, which may contribute to feelings of irritability or depression.
How we eat
• Recent studies have shown that negative and positive moods may lead to preferences for different types of food. A series of studies published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology finds that positive moods tend to increase our preference for healthy foods and negative moods increase our preference for indulgent foods. Taking a walk or meditating to boost mood may be effective strategies to improve mood and food choices.
Studies have found that individuals with depression are at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease. With February being American Heart Month, making improvements in diet and lifestyle may not only benefit mood, but it could also decrease risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
GIANT/MARTIN’S nutritionists are available for individual consultations and classes on various topics such as heart health, weight loss, and individualized meal planning. Visit the GIANT, MARTIN’S or MARTIN’S in Richmond websites for a complete list of upcoming free classes or to schedule an appointment. Individual consultations are $20 and participants receive a $20 GIANT/MARTIN’S gift card upon completion.
Editor’s Note: Before making major changes to your diet, please consult your doctor or a nutritionist/dietitian to help you in your journey toward a healthier diet and lifestyle, especially if you are pregnant or have any other health conditions.