We’re not talking about stuffing your face with so much cake that you become oblivious to the world – we prefer a healthier approach to the festive season, when food choices can make all the difference to your mood & sense of wellbeing. Many of us end up seeking depression help over winter, sometimes because the lack of sunshine affects our brain chemistry, & sometimes because the tradition winter celebrations can bring feelings of loneliness, poverty, & concern for the world at large.
This year, try taking an active, conscious approach to the festivities – there really is no need to spend a small fortune just because the adverts suggest it, & there’s certainly no longer any reason to eat enough to last you through until springtime! Moreover, choose the right foods & you can boost your health & happiness. After all, your brain chemicals can be affected by what you’ve eaten, and treating yourself healthily – foodwise & generally speaking – will help you on the road to good mental health.
Not the most tradition festive fare in Britain, admittedly, but populations that eat lots of oily fish (mackerel, herrings, sardines, salmon etc) tend to experience less seasonal affective depression (SAD). Scientists believe that this is because your brain & mood benefit from omega 3 & 6, which is actually found in marine algae – the fish eat the algae & take the omegas on board. Try going for Scandinavian-style snacks, like rollmop herrings or salmon on blini pancakes, with a little dill dressing, if you enjoy dill’s distinctive flavour. You could even serve up a huge baked salmon as a festive feast.
Slow down, sugar
The best way to avoid temptation at Christmas is to actively decide not to eat the things you wish to avoid. This way, every time someone offers a dish of sweets, your decision will click into action & you’ll find it much easier to say “no thanks”. We tend to forget the substantially healthy protein & vegetable dishes that are really what Christmas dinner’s all about – probably because we’re distracted by all the shiny, colourful wrappers in bowls on our mother-in-law’s coffee table.
It is best to avoid sugar if your mood is low; although sweet things might cheer you up temporarily, the sugar rush will cause an insulin spike in your blood stream. Insulin is released to remove, use or store the sugar you’ve just eaten. If you eat a lot of sugar, the spike can be too extreme, often leaving your blood sugar lower than it was before you ate. Any diabetic will tell you that low blood sugar – hypoglycemia – feels rotten, with mood swings, misery & sometimes even anger.
Many people with underlying mood disorders find their emotions affected by artificial ingredients. If you’ve seen a child whizzing around, out of control, after a glass of orange squash, you’ve witnessed this effect. Try to avoid artificial flavours & colourings, although be aware that just because something has “all natural ingredients” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you – sugar is a natural ingredient, after all! If you’re a guest & don’t get the chance to sneak a look at the ingredients before food gets served up, you won’t go far wrong by sticking to protein, vegetables & fruit.
Author brief bio:
This is a guest post submitted by Mike Shaw, the Network Publishing Manager of Red Mud Media, on behalf of Greatvine.com.