eating for energy

Foods for Fighting Winter Blues

Besides a small handful of you who absolutely lovvvee and feel your best during the winter, the majority of you don't. When the sun goes down early and it's dark and cold, it's a little hard not to fill bummed out and just plain tired all the time. This is real! it's called SAD: 

The common symptoms of SAD include weight gain and increased intake of carbs (mainly processed, sugary ones), lethargy and fatigue, Irritability and decreased sociability, and lowered motivation. Sound familiar?

Luckily there are amazing foods out there that can boost your mood and energy....and I don’t mean drowning yourself in red wine and dark chocolate (well, in moderation of course). Mother Nature provides all of the essential ingredients our brain needs to function optimally and lift your spirits. Check out some of these super foods for fighting winter blues:

  • Omega-3 Fats: While you've probably heard that fish is a “brain food”, you might not realize that it’s a “mood food”, too. The essential fatty acids found in cold water fish – called omega-3s – are critical to brain health and mood. The higher the level of omega-3s in your blood, the more serotonin you make and the more responsive you become to the effects of this “feel good” brain chemical. Optimize your omega-3s by enjoying wild, sustainable seafood (like salmon and sardines) and by taking a high quality fish oil supplement.
  • Vitamin D: The “sunshine vitamin” does a lot to help brighten your mood. Due to lack of sunshine, up to 90 percent of us are Vitamin-D deficient at least part of the year. If you live in a climate where getting regular sunshine isn't possible, you might try supplementing your diet with vitamin-D rich cod-liver oil or take a supplement with 2,000-5,000 IUs of vitamin D3 daily. Fabulous foods rich in vitamin D include the same seafoods listed above, oysters, eggs, and mushrooms.
  • B Vitamins: Vitamins B6, B12 and folate also help to produce mood-boosting serotonin. But that’s not all this B-vitamin trio does. They also lower homocysteine – an amino acid that increases the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression. In fact, a 2002 study found that women with high homocysteine levels had double the incidence of depression. Because B-vitamins in your body are depleted by stress (which is plentiful during the holidays!) be sure to include lots of foods rich in these nutrients in your diet, including leafy greens, avocados, asparagus, broccoli, bell peppers, chicken, salmon, sardines, shrimp, lamb, beef, and liver.
  • Selenium: Low levels of selenium are also associated with an increased risk of depression. To boost your selenium levels grab a handful of Brazil Nuts (just one provides 150 percent of the RDA of mood-enhancing selenium).
  • Antioxidants: Fighting free radicals means protecting cells – including brain cells, which are most susceptible to oxidative damage. Power up your diet with high antioxidant foods including organic blueberries, cranberries, blackberries and raspberries, organic dark cocoa; and spices including cinnamon, turmeric and cloves.
  • Animal Protein: If you’re a vegetarian, you may be lacking an important depression-fighting amino acid – tryptophan, an important precursor to serotonin. Protein-rich foods such as grass-fed beef, free range poultry, wild seafood and pastured eggs are the best sources of tryptophan.

Of course keeping up with your exercise routine is key for feeling good! With exercise and consuming the above nutrients, the likelihood of not staying in bed all day and gaining 20 lbs will diminish greatly...and if that’s not enough, plan a tropical escape for a few days!

Eating for Energy through the Holidays

As the nights get longer and the air gets cold, it feels difficult to even get out of bed let alone maintain energy throughout the day.  Holidays can cause even more stress and leave you feeling more than ready for a long winters nap. Often we gravitate towards comfort foods that will keep us warm and give us energy. Our bodies are telling us what we need, but unfortunately most of our choices include sugar, caffeine, alcohol, milk products, and other processed foods that have the opposite effect. They decrease our energy and deplete our bodies of essential minerals and nutrients which lead to colds, flues, and winter blues. Thankfully mother nature has provided us with amazing natural foods that help to boost our immunity and vitality. Try adding these 6 key energy boosting nutrients into your winter diet and start to feel alive and well! Even better, focus on local and organic foods. When the food is still alive, it provides more life force.

1. Kale: This amazing super food is high in calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, potassium, B6, C, E and K. It is also filled with fiber which helps stabilize blood sugar levels, and many other micronutrients. On top of boosting energy kale helps improved circulation, strengthen the immune system, and clear mucus and congestion especially in the lungs. This dark green veggie is almost an instant source of vitality.

2.Tangerines: These delicious winter fruits are packed with vitamin A & C, folate, potassium, and fiber which enhances immunity. The natural sugars also help stabilize blood glucose levels. It’s a great snack to choose when craving something sweet to avoid sugar crashes.

3. Cinnamon: This revitalizing spice can sharpen your cognitive abilities and counteract mood-swings. It contains calcium, iron, magnesium, and fiber which are all key nutrients for energy enhancement. It’s distinctive smell works directly with the brain to increase alertness, and it also helps prevent mood swings caused by fluctuating blood sugar levels. Try using this wonderful spice in tea, on nuts, or over fruit.

4. Brazil Nuts: A handful of these babies are rich in the mood-enhancing mineral selenium, which make them a perfect snack to help fight off the winter blues. They are also filled with magnesium, and copper which helps the body to use iron. Both of these minerals help to fight off muscle fatigue and stiffness from exercise and cold weather.

5. Pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin seeds are concentrated sources of protein, B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, magnesium. They also contain omega 3 fatty acids which help balance cholesterol and improve circulation which lead to increased energy levels.

6. Sweet potato: Hearty rooted vegetables such as sweet potatoes help to add warmth to the body. They contain vitamin C, beta carotene, copper, iron, potassium, and fiber. These nutrients help with muscle fatigue and stabilization of blood sugar levels. They also contain vitamin B6 which is know to help relieve depression. Sweet potatoes are a perfect comfort food that will not deplete your energy.