The season of winter can seem long and drawing. Many Canadians are affected by seasonal affective disorder or SAD – a depressive state during the autumn and winter months. January and February (after the holidays) seem to be the months most are affected. SAD has been associated with a lack of sunlight due to the dark and cloudy days and the blistering cold weeks where no one leaves the house. I believe that this with the combination of poor eating habits cause the depressive epidemic we see each winter.
Other than taking vacation to the tropics there is little to do to improve sun exposure for Canadians. Taking a vitamin D drop each day is one suggestion that I always recommend when dealing with SAD (I prefer the brand Orange). However, diet can significantly determine mood. Here are some foods to stop eating, and better alternatives, during the winter months (inspired by Dr. Axe https://draxe.com/bad-mood-foods):
Agave nectar: This naturally sourced sugar has become very popular in the health food world but it is not a healthy choice! The refining process removes all nutrients and all that is left is concentrated fructose, a dangerous sugar if consumed in high amounts. Agave affects mood because it increases the risk for obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance. Healthy substitutes are Manuka Honey and 100% natural maple syrup; unrefined nutrition filled sugars.
Margarine: this product is filled with high levels of omega 6 fatty acids and fat that promotes inflammation. Omega 6 blocks the metabolism of omega 3 fatty acids which are natural mood enhancers. Margarine will upset insulin and mood levels simultaneously. A healthy substitute is natural grass fed butter or ghee.
Coffee: It’s the caffeine that causes the problems as coffee can contain many beneficial antioxidants. Caffeine affects mood by impacting hormone levels and the nervous system as well, can also produce feelings of anxiety like increased heart rate and shakiness. Withdrawals will also cause a depressed mood. Instead of coffee try shifting to green tea. This leaf contains a little caffeine and countless benefits that outweigh any negative side effects.
Deli Meats: If you consume a lot of deli meats you may also be experiencing migraines, bloating and mood swings. Loaded with fillers, chemical preservatives and salt there is nothing good to say about deli meats. A healthier substitute is to cook your own chicken and carve into slices – it’s more cost effective too!
Egg Whites: this one may be a mindblower. When you remove the yolk, you are removing most of the mood enhancing benefits. An egg has so much nutrients with most of it found in the yolk, not the whites. When you strip a food of nutrients the leftovers can cause inflammation or further damage in the body if consumed often enough. So, eat the whole egg! It is healthier to choose organic and free range.