It's COLD outside!!!
It’s cold! Winter is here! The sun is gone, it’s dark by 4:30pm, we are layering up just to go grab the newspaper – if you’re like me, YOU ARE NOT HAPPY!
It’s common for people to become more depressed during the cold winter months. Maybe it’s having to shovel your way out to warm up the car, maybe it’s the number of layers you need to put on to go just about anywhere; or maybe it’s so cold and dark out that you just can’t get your body up and moving like you did during the warmer months.
Yes, these are all contributing factors, but it could also have a lot to do with the foods you’re choosing, a decrease in hormone levels and some vitamin deficiencies. These deficiencies are more important than you might think but it could be a simple fix of adjusting your diet to get you feeling better and ready to tackle the cold.
Feeling extra cold?
YOU NEED: Iron
If your feeling extra cold this winter, your body might be deficient in iron. Iron helps us maintain adequate body temperature. While iron is found in plant based foods, our bodies do not absorb the form of iron from plant sources the same way it does from animal sources. The winter months, unfortunately, attract us to heavy carb options, but we need to make sure we are consuming enough iron rich foods as well. These include red meats, poultry, beans, dark green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified breads.
Have you not seen the sun?
YOU NEED: Vitamin D
The sunlight vitamin. The cold months bring on minimal sunlight and early dark nights. We don’t spend time outside and there just isn’t enough sunlight throughout the day for us to absorb enough vitamin D. Unfortunately, there are not a lot of foods that naturally contain the vitamin, though there are foods such as yogurt, grains, and cereals that are fortified with it. The best sources that have naturally occurring vitamin D are egg yolks and oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
Extra moody lately?
YOU NEED: A boost of Serotonin
During the cold months, serotonin levels [your mood-boosting hormone] drop but the enzymes that absorb the serotonin become more active. Meaning, the enzymes are revved up and ready to absorb but there is nothing available to absorb. This results in a decrease in mood which can lead to crankiness and depression. Exercise will be the best way to boost your mood, but you can also raise serotonin levels by incorporating foods such as, turkey, sunflower seeds, lobster, cottage cheese, pineapple, tofu, spinach and bananas.
Not falling asleep?
YOU NEED: Magnesium
Melatonin levels drop during the colder months and you end up having a harder time falling and staying asleep. Your body needs more magnesium, which will help promote deeper longer sleep. Rather than worrying about having to take a sleeping pill or melatonin pill every night [some can make you very groggy in the morning], increase or balance your magnesium levels naturally with nuts, seeds, cherries, and green leafy vegetables.
When it’s cold, we naturally gravitate towards heavier foods, mainly carb based. We turn on the oven and bake cookies, muffins, and breads; we huddle under blankets near the fireplace and tell ourselves we aren’t going anywhere until the Spring.
We forget about our regular schedules of working out and eating nutrient dense foods, and switch over to sleeping in, lazy afternoons, and heavy creamy soups. These changes result in low energy, mood swings, and vitamin deficiencies. Just by keeping to an exercise schedule, and ensuring the right foods, we can get ourselves feeling better and getting through these cold winter months with ease.
Stay positive and stay healthy!
Of course, there is always supplementation, but I’m not a doctor, I’m a nutritionist, so I’d rather show you the whole foods that can help you during these winter months. You should always consult with a doctor for the best supplements and dosage.