Can you believe how beautiful all of this snow is?! As breathtaking as it may be, I’m just not mentally prepared for it yet. Winter has a habit of showing up before it has been invited, clearly it didn’t get the memo that we still have another month left of fall. All of the excitement of snow can quickly turn into a case of the winter blues and if you’re like 3 million other Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), this time of year can be tough. While I’m certainly no medical professional, I’d like to take a quick minute to talk about what we can do to try and stay ahead of SAD and winter blues this season.

According to the Mayo Clinic, SAD can leave you depressed, sluggish or agitated, reduced energy, difficulty concentrating and can cause a change in appetite including cravings for carbohydrates. While the specific cause remains unknown, some factors may include a drop in serotonin levels and melatonin. Our biological clock also gets thrown into another time zone with the reduction of sunlight. So, what can we do to keep everything balanced? Along with regular exercise and getting as much sunlight as possible, your diet is a great place to start!

Start with dark leafy greens! Kale, spinach, swiss chard and broccoli are rich in folic acid and vitamin B12 which have been found to boost serotonin levels.

  • Lentils, black-eyed peas and soybeans also contain high amounts of folic acid.
  • Dark Chocolate… um, yes please! Due to antioxidants called flavonoids, eating just an ounce and a half can reduce stress-causing hormones. Look for 75% cocoa or higher.
  • Sweet potatoes- folate, great for serotonin boosts
  • Nuts- Some of the highest sources for omega-3’s are found in walnuts and flax
  • Eggs- zinc and B-12
  • Mushrooms- great for vitamin D, AKA the “sunshine vitamin”
  • Turkey and lean proteins- high in omega-3’s fatty acids which can positively affect your mood and energy. The tryptophan and melatonin in turkey can have a calming effect and great for sleep!
  • Cheese, milk and yogurt- vitamin D
  • Whole grains like oatmeal and brown rice- When you need to reach for carbs, try and go for these healthier options that are complex carbs that help to increase serotonin.

Speaking of carbs and grains, try making cornbread using spelt flour or whole wheat for this week’s Cornbread Contest at Countryside Public Market! Enter your best cornbread on 11/17/19 using as many local ingredients as you can and see who will grain supreme. Email Alicia at ahall@cvcountryside.org to enter. Contest begins right at 11:00am and samples will be served up after judging. For more information, please visit our Facebook event!

-Alicia Hall

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