Eat to beat the Winter blues!

It’s that time of year again – January; officially the most depressing month in our calendar.

Christmas has been and gone leaving more than a little dent in the finances, while those New Year’s resolutions mean you only have a cup of green tea to comfort those dark, miserable evenings…and don’t even get me started on the weather!

Yep it’s easy to see why people feel a little glum at this time of year, but there are some simple tweaks you can make to your diet for a little mood and energy boost, and they’re good for you too!

Oats

Porridge from BBC Good Food
Image c/o BBC Good Food

Since starting my day with a bowl of porridge, I’m hooked. I’d probably even go so far as saying it’s my favourite meal…the reason? Oats are tasty, warm and fill you up, not to mention they’re easy to cook and have a whole host of health benefits too.

Oats will keep your heart healthy, are a low GL carbohydrate and a great source of natural fibre.

If you’re tight for time the individual microwaveable sachets of porridge are a really handy breakfast. Alternatively just boil on the hob with your choice of water or milk and add some toppings as desired. Here are some suggestions.

Ground Flaxseed: Rich in omega 3, protein and essential healthy fats, ground flaxseed is a great added dose of fibre for your oats and can add a nutty, interesting texture. Linwoods offer a range of flavoured ground seeds that are great with porridge or yoghurt.

Agave Nectar: Replace honey with its lower GL, natural counterpart. Agave is just as sweet, if not sweeter, than honey but won’t spike your blood sugar as much so try adding a teaspoon to your oats for a sweet kick.

Peanut butter: This has got to be my favourite addition to oats. Stir a teaspoon through when the oats are nearly cooked for a savoury/sweet taste and extra protein boost.

Banana: Slice half of one of your other happy foods over hot oats for a natural sweetener – this can be very filling!

Cocoa powder: Fancy some chocolate? A small bowl of oats with cocoa powder mixed in can be a great, healthier way to satisfy your chocolate craving.

Blueberries: Rich in antioxidants, sprinkling some blueberries over your porridge boosts its health properties and tastes delicious.

Broccoli

Broccoli from BBC Good Food
Image c/o BBC Good Food

This vegetable is rich in Calcium, Vitamin C and Vitamin D, which are known for their cold-beating and mood-boosting properties. Also, as it’s a cruciferous vegetable it will soak up excess oestrogen in the body, helping to keep your hormones balanced. Balanced hormones = no PMS!

Steam if you can so it retains more of its nutrients, if boiling be careful not to overcook – 3 minutes should be sufficient. Serve with other veg, meat, fish, Quorn…whatever you want!

Bananas

Banana image from wikipedia
Image c/o wikipedia

These will give you a natural sugar fix without the crashing GI levels. They’re also a good source of potassium, and are satiating so they’ll make you feel fuller than if you eat that chocolate bar.

Eat yours with a handful of nuts – the protein will help to keep your blood sugars stable, lower the GL and keep you feeling fuller for longer. You could also try blending yours into a delicious smoothie, dairy-free ice cream or shake for a bit more of a treat. Get my recipe for natural sugar and dairy-free ice cream here.

Pass the Protein

protein image from myfitnessstudio
Image c/o my fitness studio

Try and eat more proteins like turkey, chicken, cheese, eggs and nuts. These contain tryptophan, a large amino that converts to serotonin in the brain. It works best when consumed with a small amount of carbohydrates like a scoop of brown rice.

 Here’s to a happier end to the winter! Are you prone to a case of the winter blues?

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