Dietitian Kelsey Weight shares her tips for feeling brighter and keeping well during the winter months.
As the days grow shorter and the weather gets colder, we might find our energy levels and motivation low, and this isn’t just because it’s cold outside! The shorter days and longer nights cause subtle shifts in our hormones and other body chemicals, that can influence our mood, sleeping habits and even food preferences.
Changes in mood can be due to many things however, if you notice a low mood persisting in yourself or a loved one, please reach out to your GP or call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36.
Can you eat to beat the winter blues?
The link between food and mood has become clearer over recent years, thanks to the work of Professor Felice Jacka and her team at the Food & Mood Centre at Deakin University, Vic.
Their research set out to answer the question “If I improve my diet will my mood improve?”. The answer is YES, with research finding that certain dietary patterns can boost our mood significantly, and reduce our risk of depression by approximately 30%!
When our gut microbiota is well fed, diverse and thriving, this supports our immune system as well as many important aspects of our brain function (e.g. concentration) and mood.
What does a mood boosting diet look like?
- Focus on fibre.
- Aim to include a wide variety of high fibre fruits, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts, and seeds daily.
- Take a food first approach.
- While supplements may be necessary for some people, prioritise getting your nutrients through a varied and nutrient dense diet first.
- Omega 3’s.
- These healthy fats are packed with anti-inflammatory and mood boosting properties. Aim to include foods such as oily fish (salmon, tuna, sardines), seafood, walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, tahini, and canola oil.
- Choose healthy fats and limit unsaturated fats.
- Choose lean cuts of meat and cook with extra virgin olive oil.
A few more practical tips for optimal mood and energy:
- Avoid skipping meals or leaving big gaps between eating. The body needs fuel at regular intervals to help manage your appetite and energy levels.
- Try to keep active each day – whether it’s gentle movement at home, a gym session or heading out for a walk with the dog.
- Focus on sleep: look at your bed time, evening routine and bedroom environment, to support 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
- Make sure you’re drinking enough water, and other fluids like tea, herbal tea to keep your hydration up.
- If your energy levels are plummeting and you can’t seem to figure out why, touch base with your GP to check nutrition markers like iron, B12 and vitamin D levels.
If you would like to know more about eating to support your mood and energy this winter, touch base with a dietitian who can tailor nutrition advice to your specific goals and needs.
Bio: Kelsey is an Accredited Practising Dietitian and founder of Nuture – Nutrition and Dietetics. Kelsey loves working with women to optimise their health and wellbeing, free of diet cultures rules and restriction. Find out more on Instagram @nurture.nutrition or email email@example.com