HEYIt’s wintertime! It is the time when people like to stay under the blankets feeling warm and cozy. It is difficult to wake up early in the morning, you feel like staying at home all the time. To go outside becomes a task. But if this happens quite often you might be suffering from a seasonal affective disorder – SAD. Here is more information on the winter depression diet PDF (Indian Menu) as well as the top foods for depression.
How does Winter Affect your mood?
Our body has a circadian rhythm that works along with the clock of the sun. In the darkness, the body produces melatonin, which initiates sleep in humans. During winter the exposure to the sun is less as we prefer to stay indoors. The internal clock of humans can get disrupted and causes hormonal imbalance in winter.
If you suffer from SAD, it is highly possible to get triggered during winter. Winter depression can cause excessive sleep, weight gain, and difficulty in concentrating. You get extreme cravings for sweet or starchy foods. While starchy foods trigger the secretion of serotonin, it in turn induces sleep.
Causes of SAD ( Winter Depression)?
- High melatonin levels: Melatonin hormone is produced in the dark. During winters the body gets extra hours of darkness because of short days. It might produce extra melatonin that directly increases the serotonin levels which regulate sleep. You feel lazy, lethargic, depressed, and low.
- Imbalance of serotonin: With hormonal imbalance, there can be an imbalance of a neurotransmitter named serotonin. This can make the winter depression worse. During winters the serotonin levels naturally increase and might cause SAD with the slightest imbalance.
- Low vitamin D levels: Vitamin D plays a vital role in maintaining serotonin levels. Low exposure to the sun during winter causes a deficiency in vitamin D that leads to erratic sleep patterns.
Symptoms of winter depression or SAD:
- Feeling low
- Sleeping a lot
- Weight gain
- Craving for sweet and starchy foods
- Anti – Social behavior
Treatment for SAD:
- Light therapy: Light therapy works wonders for mild to moderate winter depression. It includes exposure to a fixed amount of light for half an hour. Exposure to Sunlight also helps in the initial stages.
- Antidepressants: With severe depression and anxiety, it is advisable to start with the medication under the guidance of professionals.
- Vitamin D supplements: Vitamin D supplements reduce depression, regulate sleep and improve mood swings.
- Lifestyle intervention: A clean lifestyle helps to correct winter depression. This includes:
- Improving sleep schedule: An 8-hour sound sleep helps to regulate serotonin, improves moods, fights depression and anxiety, and helps to lose weight.
- Workout regime: But, just push yourself to perform any workout for a minimum of half an hour. Exercising kick starts the metabolism; releases feel-good hormones, regulates sleep, and fights depression.
- Winter Depression Diet: Diet plays an important role in improving your mood. Consume foods that will boost metabolism, and release dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins – the feel-good hormones that fight depression and anxiety.
Winter Depression Diet
Foods to include in the winter depression diet
Lean proteins increase metabolism. Proteins keep you full for longer and curb sugar cravings. It prevents the sudden sugar spike and hunger. The amino acids help to release hormones that make you feel good and treat depression. Include eggs, poultry, fish, dals, pulses and soy, and low-fat milk and milk products.
Millets and Whole grains
Millets and whole grains are complex carbohydrates that prevent sudden sugar spike, keep you full or long, and aids weight loss. Include whole wheat flour, oats, brown rice, bajra, jowar, nachni as well as quinoa.
Berries prevent the release of cortisol, curb hunger, and also boost immunity. Berries are rich in fiber and natural sugar that can replace the craving for sugary foods during winter.
Omega 3-rich foods
Omega 3 helps to improve your mood. It helps to reduce depression and anxiety. Omega 3 also helps to reduce body inflammation and make you less tired. Include olive oil, flaxseed, chia seed, fish, and walnuts.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamins, majorly B complex vitamins, minerals, fiber, and folic acid. All these nutrients help to improve mood. These nutrients also reduce stress levels and improve the sleep cycle. Include all green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, fenugreek leaves, etc.
Folic acid-rich foods
Folic acid is a brain tonic that helps to boost the brain cells. It helps to improve mood and fight depression and anxiety. Include green leafy vegetables, oranges, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals, lentils, and also soybean.
Vitamin D can be produced in your body itself with exposure to the sun. Daily try and get out in open in the mornings to soak in as much natural light as you can. If still, your vitamin D levels are low, you can take a supplement with a doctor’s prescription.
Cocoa definitely has an effect on mood because of its polyphenol content. It helps to reduce depression and stress. Chocolates contain a high amount of sugar that will lead to sugar cravings after some time of consumption. It is wise to replace the chocolate with dark chocolate which has the same benefits with less sugar content.
Nuts are rich in fiber, amino acids, omega 3, and B complex vitamins. They boost serotonin levels and act as mood stabilizers. Nuts are also a good snacking option for weight loss, full of proteins and fiber. Include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pica nuts, as well as brazil nuts.
Kefir is a fermented dairy probiotic product that improves gut health. A healthy gut reduces depression and anxiety. It also boosts vitamin D production in the body when you are exposed to sunlight.
Winter Depression Diet Plan
Empty stomach: 1 serving Kefir drink or 1 glass of Green Juice (kale, spinach, cucumber, mint, ginger)
Breakfast: 1 cup Overnight soaked oats with flaxseeds and berries
Mid-morning: Handful of Nuts (soaked almonds, walnuts. Black raisins, brazil nuts) or 40 gms Paneer
Lunch: 1 cup Salad + 1 Millet Roti + ½ cup Brown or red rice + 1 cup Vegetables + 1 cup Sprouts or Dal
Mid-Afternoon: 1 glass of Buttermilk
Snack: 1 cup Green Tea + ½ cup Roasted Chana or 1 cup Kurmura or 1 Khakhra
Dinner: 1 cup Vegetable soup + 1 Multigrain Roti or 1 cup Khichdi or Daliya + 1 cup Green leafy vegetable + 1 cup Curd
Bedtime: 1 cup warm water with dry ginger powder
It is important to identify the symptoms of depression at the right time and treat the depression on time. Do not shy away to take professionals to help to correct your lifestyle, and take medication. Hope this Winter depression diet helps you lift up your mood and gives you some solidarity.