More often than not, our mental health and our physical health go hand in hand with one another. No example proves this better than the fact that the foods we eat can contribute to our mental health. Although we often think of this in terms of junk food making us feel lethargic or depressed, there are also plenty of foods that can uplift your mental health all year round.
Specifically, if you struggle with seasonal depression, there are plenty of foods you can eat that can help you fight the winter blues. No matter what kind of foods you normally like, there is pretty much something for everybody within this list of powerful foods. Here are a few healthy options to help fight seasonal depression.
In addition to being a lean protein, tofu also has the power to help lower bad cholesterol, lower the risk of diabetes, and boost energy. Especially when it comes to that last one, tofu can definitely ward off seasonal depression by helping you stay uplifted and spritely.
Berries tend to be more of a summer fruit, which might be why they have the power to bring you a little bit of sunshine wherever you are. Blueberries, specifically, are considered a superfood, and alongside strawberries and raspberries, can actually contribute to lowering cortisol levels and reducing stress in the brain.
Fish and other seafood have the power to fight against depression in general and can be a big part of warding off seasonal depression. Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which lower the risk of depression and also help to treat depression that’s already there.
Yogurt is a breakfast staple for many, but did you know that as a source of good bacteria, it can also impact a variety of your body’s systems in a positive way through better gut health? Your gut microbiome is extremely interconnected with many of the body’s systems, including the brain, and keeping a good balance with your gut health by eating yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha can help treat depression.
5. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens seem to be beneficial for pretty much everything, and fighting seasonal depression is no different. Leafy greens contain folic acid, which can literally boost your serotonin levels and help you feel happier. Although it isn’t exactly clear how leafy greens, folic acid, and other foods that contain it actually work within the body, they’re a great choice.
Speaking of folic acid, oatmeal is another great source of this nutrient that has the power to uplift your mood and pull you up a little in terms of mental health through the rougher seasons. Plus, oatmeal is known to be a warm, cozy food that’s perfect for starting off your winter days, so it’s sort of the perfect choice for seasonal comfort food.
Eggs are a food that is considered to be high in protein and low in fat, which means that even as they provide filling nutrients, they’re easier to digest than fatty protein foods like red meat or more processed foods. This means that they’re heart-healthy and easier to digest, which can help you feel more energized and rejuvenated. Fish, tofu, and even some lean chicken can fall into this category as well.
Another high-protein, low-fat option to add to your roster is nuts — as well as certain seeds. Whether you’re thinking about the nuts in your trail mix or the all-natural peanut butter you spread on your toast in the mornings, nuts can be great uplifting food with healthy oils and fats to help fight off seasonal depression.
9. Dark Chocolate
Who doesn’t love a little bit of dark chocolate, no matter the circumstances? Of course, chocolate is a fun food that tastes amazing, but did you know that it actually has plenty of real health benefits? Specifically, dark chocolate contains antioxidants like polyphenol, which can help improve moods and energy levels. If you’re feeling down, try having a small square of dark chocolate and see how it treats you. Plus, it’ll be a delicious treat anyway!
Bananas are a great option when it comes to finding healthy snacks and making things like smoothies, but they can also be great for improving moods and increasing happiness. Specifically, bananas contain tryptophan, which is a chemical that calms and relaxes you, as well as magnesium, which can also be great for reducing anxiety. Overall, bananas are healthy and can help keep you happy.
Fighting Seasonal Depression Through Diet
Having seasonal depression is no fun, but there are so many ways to fight the winter blues, and one of them is through nourishing your body with healthy foods. Whether you would rather cook up some tofu, cosy up with some oatmeal, or take a banana on the go, you can find the right foods that work for you this winter to support your mental health. Do you have a favourite food that helps you feel better in dark times?
Mia Barnes specializes in writing about sustainable, healthy nutrition. She is the Managing Editor at Body+Mind and contributes at many other outlets across the web.