Making a few small changes to your diet can provide significant improvements to your health, particularly reducing Seasonal Affective Disorders symptoms.
1. Eat regularly. Skipping meals can reduce your blood sugar levels which can make you feel tired, irritated, inability to concentrate and crave for carbs. Drink water in large amounts, otherwise you may dehydrate and thus you will feel tired and experience reduced attention span.
2. Starcy carbs such as porridge, brown rice, and wholegrain bread and cereals are beneficial for boosting serotonin. These foods stimulate the production of insulin, which in turn helps tryptophan (an amino acid or protein building block) enter the brain, where it’s used to make serotonin.
3. Many protein-rich foods such as chicken, turkey, beef, fish, eggs, cheese and nuts are also rich source of tryptophan, so can help increase brain levels of mood-boosting serotonin.
4. Eating a diet rich in B vitamins is also helpful. Vitamin B6 (found in fish, pork, eggs, brown rice, soya, oats, wholegrains, peanuts, walnuts, avocado and bananas) aids turn tryptophan into serotonin. According to certain studies, low levels of several of the B vitamins such as vitamin B12 (found in meat, fish, eggs and dairy) and folate (found in green leafy veg) increase the risk of depression.
5. Finally, enjoy oil-rich fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout and fresh tuna at least once a week. It might not directly improve SAD, but research show low intakes of omega-3 fats lead to depression.
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Made with low-GI oats, porridge for breakfast helps regulate blood sugar levels, preventing energy decrease. Make it with tryptophan-rich semi-skimmed milk to boost serotonin.
Bananas are rich source of vitamin B6 and small amounts of tryptophan, while milk is rich in protein. Along with the fibre in the fruit, these should help fill you up. You can also add a handful of blackberries which boosts folate.
Fish is rich in serotonin-boosting tryptophan, but salmon is strongly recommended because it tops up mood-enhancing omega-3 fats and vitamin D. Add fibre- and folate-rich peas to the filling, and choose a potato rather than pastry topping to keep fat intakes down and starchy carbs up.
As Pasta has a low GI, it helps to maintain energy levels. Additionally, dairy-rich cheese sauce is loaded with trytophan. Make it with low-fat spread, semi-skimmed milk and reduced-fat cheese to cut calories and add broccoli to boost folate.
Pilchards on toast
The best way to enjoy oil-rich fish, tinned pilchards are rich source of omega-3 fats and top the list for their rich vitamin D content. Wholegrain toast will help boost serotonin and add fibre to fill you up.
Eggs on toast
The ideal hunger-boosting combo of fibre and protein, wholegrain toast is also loaded with starchy carbs, while eggs are a good source of vitamins B12 and D, essential for boosting mood.
Soups and stews
Lean meat stimulates tryptophan, while potatoes, barley, lentils and beans add energy-giving carbs – all perfect for boosting serotonin. Veggies such as onions, carrots, parsnips and leeks, add filling fibre.
Handful of nuts
Taking a snack containing unsalted nuts will fill you up thanks to the fibre and protein they contain, but nuts are also rich in many B vitamins, including vitamin B6.
Baked apples, fruit crumbles and stewed fruit all boost your five-a-day – add a handful of walnuts (with omega-3 fats and fibre) and yogurt rich in vitamin D, or custard made with soya milk are the ideal mood-busting combos.
Pork is rich in tryptophan and vitamin B6 and contains lower fat content than beef or lamb. Serve it with sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots and butternut squash roasted in a little olive oil, to boost fibre, and greens such as cabbage for folate.