Christmas is meant to be a time of joy and happiness where we spend quality time with our family and friends. However, with an increased chance of catching the common cold or the flu, the poor weather conditions and the very real possibility of suffering from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) the festive period is not always as enjoyable as it should be. Even if you are not suffering from SAD you can still find yourself feeling glum during the holidays for various reasons. In these instances you may want to consider the impact of your diet. What you eat can have a significant impact upon your mood and that’s why today I will be discussing four foods that can boost your mood over Christmas.
1) TEA:- If you are from England then tea is likely to be a staple of your diet. Whenever you visit one of your friends or family one of the first questions always seems to be ‘Should I put the kettle on? However, tea is not just a popular English beverage – it can also lift your mood. In this study from the University College London (UCL) participants who drank tea were able to recover from stress more quickly and also had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their blood. So next time you feel down go make yourself a cuppa. Not only will it give you a short period to relax but the ingredients in the tea could actually improve your mood.
2) DARK CHOCOLATE:- Chocolate is not a food you expect to find recommended on a health and fitness blog. In most cases I would agree. It’s full of sugar, has very little nutritional value and just does not offer the nutritional benefits that a lot of other foods can. However, in terms of mood chocolate may have an advantage over the other ‘healthy’ food choices. According to this article dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine which can help elevate our mood. It also boosts serotonin levels (which reduces feelings of depression) and endorphin levels (which have been linked with a feeling of euphoria). Although dark chocolate may indeed boost your mood that does not mean you can over indulge. By all means next time you feel down have a piece of dark chocolate. Just make sure you exercise some portion control.
3) SALMON:- Salmon is rich in vitamin D and omega 3 fatty acids. It is particularly important to consume vitamin D as part of your diet during winter because you have less exposure to sunlight in the winter months. On top of this vitamin D increases serotonin levels which can help boost your mood. Research also suggests that the omega 3s found in salmon could improve your mood. According to this article eating foods that are rich in omega 3s (such as salmon) increases grey matter volume in the area of the brain associated with mood and emotion. It also suggests that people with lower blood levels of omega 3s were more likely to have a negative outlook on life. Therefore, if you are feeling down this Christmas perhaps you are simply not getting enough of these vital nutrients. Make salmon a part of your diet once or twice a week and hopefully this will have a positive impact on your mood.
4) NUTS:- If salmon is really not your thing then snacking on nuts is a viable alternative. Walnuts are a particularly good choice because they are rich in omega 3s which (as discussed above) have a number of mood boosting properties. Try taking a bag of nuts into work and use them for snacking. Not only will you be avoiding unhealthy snacks such as crisps and cookies but you might get the added benefit of being in a better mood.
Mood is a complex series of emotions. It is natural to associate mood with something that is happening in our lives. Being overworked and the poor winter weather conditions are classic reasons that many people will use this Christmas to justify their bad moods. Whilst these are all valid reasons very few people will consider the impact diet can have. Try eating some of these mood foods over the Christmas period and see what impact they have. Hopefully, they will help you have a very merry Christmas.
Have you guys had any experience with mood foods? Are there any you think I should have included on my list? Have you got any other tips for boosting your mood over the festive period? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please leave a comment below.
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