With Winter in full flow those early nights, lack of sun, the cold weather, the rain, and the associated boredom as we become slightly less active can have a knock-on effect to our mental health. To help, we’ve compiled a guide to winter foods which are good for the body, and mind.
Most studies point towards the Mediterranean Diet being as good for your brain as it is for your body. Polyunsaturated acids (think the Omega 3 types found in oily fish), minerals such as zinc (grains, legumes, meat and milk), magnesium (green leafy veg, nuts and whole grains), and iron (red meat, eggs, some fruit), vitamins such as folate (green leafy veg and fortified cereals), B vitamins (whole grain, yeast, dairy), and antioxidant vitamins such as C and E (fruit and veg) are all highly recommended and should be part of a balanced diet anyway. Remember though a change in diet is not a one stop fix but it can play a part in helping. Below we’ve listed some foods you should really try.
When it comes to oily fish and Omega 3 we recommend 2 portions of oily fish per week – try either salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, or anchovies. The fresher the better! Salmon always goes well with sticky rice and a nice sauce, whilst mackerel works surprisingly well as a snack by itself.
When it comes to certain vitamins you can’t beat strawberries, red peppers, kale, and the good old orange. Try slicing strawberries over your morning cereal, whilst red peppers are a great addition to salads, and kale goes better than you might expect with your usual Sunday roast. Alternatively try some low carb ginger bread (toasted), with almond butter and sliced strawberries on top – we’ve seen this recommended a lot and you’ll be shocked how nice it tastes.
With regards to folate try to up your intake of broccoli, lentils, oatmeal, oranges, and dark leafy greens. As you can see oranges like some other foods crop up across different categories – so as not to get bored we recommend consuming them in different ways, you can blend them with other ingredients for a nice smoothie, use them when roasting your meats for added taste, or just eat them as they are a bit more often. Broccoli meanwhile is simple to add to your regular hot dinners and roasts – it’s also easy to grow at home in the garden.
If its fiber you’re looking for, soluble fiber can slow the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream and increase serotonin, look no further than oats, beans, pears, peas, and Brussel sprouts – most of these are easy to add to your diet or up the intake of, but we do know that many of you avoid Brussel sprouts, chances are though you were put off them as a child and haven’t touched one since, this is because they were over-boiled; but have a google and you’ll find the proper way to cook them, or give them a proper roasting with a drizzle of olive oil!
And what about nuts? Well, nuts make a great snack, we highly recommend keeping some on you for when you start to feel peckish and instead of reaching for a chocolate bar or sweets just dip into your nuts instead.
To finish off we also recommend foods such as avocados, bananas (perfect to carry with you on walks or long bike rides), brown rice, wholegrains, and pulses.
Of course we also know that during the winter you may turn to certain comfort foods you’ve been using for years, or you may have set in stone winter routines for your meals – just try to supplement your usual dishes with a few added extras like we’ve mentioned above or try to at least swap out some of the treats and other items for some of the foods we’ve mentioned.
You might be surprised at the small differences you start to notice after a couple of weeks. Got any good recommendations for foods to eat during the winter? Let us know on our Facebook page.