Fight Winter Blues with Good Nutrition

Written by Canadian Lentils Dietitian Gloria Tsang, RD

November is here. With shorter daylight hours and more rain in many parts of the country, our mood can be affected. In addition to trying to get outside more and be active, some simple diet changes can help you curb Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Diet Strategies to Help Fight Winter Blues

1. Consider Taking a Vitamin D
If you are going to take one supplement in the next few months, consider taking Vitamin D.  A study from the University of Toronto found that Canadians who suffer from SAD and other depression seem to have their symptoms improved when the Vitamin D level in the body improved. And the benefits of Vitamin D don’t just stop there. Not only is an immune booster to fight off flu bugs, Vitamin D is also vital in cancer prevention.  That’s why the Canadian Cancer Society recommends all adults to take 1000 IU of Vitamin D during fall and winter months. Some good food sources of Vitamin D includes fortified milk, egg yolks, and fatty fish.

2. Eat Lentils More Often
Stabilizing the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin is an effective means to stabilize our mood. Lentils, the nutrition powerhouse with balanced complex carbohydrates and protein, can help boost the production of serotonin. In addition, the high level of folate content in lentils has also been associated with depression management. When you don’t feel like cooking and doing anything, try a simple homemade lentil soup like this Red Lentil, Peanut & Sweet Potato Soup. No prior preparation or soaking is required. You just simply toss all ingredients in the pot and cook. That’s it.

3. Snack on Bananas
There are lots of reasons why athletes love bananas! They contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that can lift your mood by increasing serotonin levels. Similar to lentils, bananas are also a good source for potassium, fibre, and Vitamin B6, all of which help our bodies to absorb and metabolize tryptophan! 
Recipe to try: Banana Lentil Muffins

4. Try Sardines
With fewer trips to the grocery stores, it’s best to stock some nutritious dry and canned staples at home. Lentils certainly make that list. In addition, have you tried canned sardines? Like salmon, sardines are also a type of oily fish, which provide an excellent source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. Researchers found that people with lower omega-3 levels are associated with a higher risk of depression and bad mood. Omega-3 helps fight depression by regulating dopamine and serotonin levels secreted by the brain. In addition, not only can omega-3 help boost your mood, it also helps keep your brain healthy and alert! It truly is a brain nutrient!  And don’t forget what I mentioned earlier, oily fish are also a good source of Vitamin D too! Other oily fish include salmon, herring, anchovies, and mackerel.
Recipe to try: Planked Salmon with Lentils

5. Enjoy Turkey
The last quarter of every year is the season to enjoy turkey, and you shouldn’t feel guilty about it at all! Turkey is a good source of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps boost levels of serotonin in our brain. Not only does eating turkey make us feel good, it also contain the lowest fat among all meats!
Recipe to try: Hoisin Turkey and Lentil Lettuce Wrap

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