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Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that has a seasonal pattern, it is also called “winter depression” because the symptoms are more obvious and can be more severe at this time of the year. Adding certain foods to your diet from autumn onwards can help lesson some of the symptoms. For instance by boosting your serotonin levels, which is also known as a ‘happy hormone’. Serotonin is made by a protein amino acid called tryptophan, so eating foods containing this amino acid will help release the feel good hormone i.e. eggs, meat, fish, cheese, bananas, nuts, pulses etc. Carbohydrates also have a role to play as they help release more serotonin. Try a breakfast of poached eggs and wholemeal toast, a lunch of lentil soup and for your evening meal how about a serotonin rich salmon curry with the addition of brown rice and toasted sesame seeds
Vitamin D – the sunshine vitamin has in some studies been shown to help with SAD. Obviously the best way to get Vitamin D is to be out in the sunshine for at least 10 minutes without any sun protection. This can be an issue in the autumn and winter months, as the sun does not have sufficient UBV radiation. However there are some foods that naturally have good levels of this essential vitamin; oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), eggs and meat. Other foods are also fortified with vitamin D like margarine, breakfast cereals (please read the labels), diary and soya products.
Not only do nuts contain tryptophan but brazil nuts also contain selenium which is a great mineral for lifting your mood.
As well as eating oily fish for its vitamin D content it also contains omega 3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help alleviate some of the symptoms of SAD. Omega 3 can also help maintain serotonin levels. Vegetarian alternatives are hemp and flaxseeds (linseeds) and walnuts.
Carbohydrates help activate the release of serotonin; the best sources are the slow energy releasing i.e. oats, wholemeal bread, rice and pasta and lots of fruit and veg. Try and avoid the quick releasing carbs like sweets, biscuits, sugar and cakes.
Finally try and find time for exercise this can not only relax and clam you but it could promote the release of mood busting endorphins and serotonin. Some good news is that dark chocolate can also help the release endorphins!
Mood boosting snacks
Hummus on oat cakes or wholemeal pitta bread
Banana milkshake with crushed sesame and linseeds
A handful of brazil nuts
A handful of edamae beans
Miso soup with tofu
Low salt pretzels
Scrambled egg on wholmeal toast
Veggie sticks with avocado salsa
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