If you woke up this morning on Blue Monday feeling particularly fed up you are not alone. But here’s some cheerier news – what you choose to eat today can go a long way to making you feel more chipper. Here are three healthy ways to boost your mood with food.
D for delicious
During the dark winter months our vitamin D levels can dip and this is thought to be a contributing factor to SAD or seasonal affective disorder. Symptoms of SAD include low mood, fatigue and the desire to sleep more than usual.
Probably the easiest thing to do is to take a vitamin D supplement, but there are also a few food sources that can be included in your diet at this time of year. Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are quick wins along with eggs and mushrooms, which are the only good, plant-based source of vitamin D.
Get Blue Monday off to a more colourful start with this D-elicious omelette. Add a little oil to a pan and sauté sliced mushrooms with a little ground cumin until softened. Pour over whisked eggs and dot with flakes of smoked mackerel. Add a little salt and pepper, cook for a few minutes and then flip to cook lightly on the other side (or you can fold and keep it a little runny in the middle).
We now know that the gut microbiome plays an important role in brain health (called the gut-brain axis) and research is beginning to show a connection between healthy gut bacteria and the prevention of low mood and depression. Eating a variety of fruit and vegetables, plenty of fibre and probiotic foods (like fermented foods and live yogurt) are the best ways to nurture your gut.
Try making this beautiful bean dish, which is packed with gut-friendly goodies. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan. Add a chopped onion and sauté for a few minutes, then add four finely grated cloves of garlic and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. Cook for another minute, then pour 60ml dry white wine into the pan and cook for another minute before adding one can of chopped tomatoes, two cans of drained cannellini beans, ½ tsp sugar and 500ml vegetable stock. Season and simmer on a low heat for about 30-40 minutes. To serve, sprinkle over lemon zest and dollop on plain Greek yogurt.
There’s science behind that feeling of bliss as you tuck into your favourite chocolate bar. Chocolate contains tryptophan, which increases production of serotonin, also known as the happy hormone.
But before you plough your way through a bar of Dairy Milk, a study by University College London found that consuming chocolate with a high cocoa content (the dark stuff) was found to reduce the risk of depression by 70 per cent. So savour a few squares of dark chocolate in front of the telly tonight.
The Midlife Method: How To Lose Weight and Feel Great After 40 by Sam Rice is published by Hachette