So, it’s rolled round again. The day the boffins have – by way of a complicated algorithm – deemed the most depressing day of the year. Officially. You’re broke, you’re (still) bloated, your credit card bill’s landed on the mat, payday hasn’t come and Spring is still months away.
Yes, they don’t call it Blue Monday for nothing. And on a day as miserable as this, it’s no wonder so many people feel the need to slide back under the duvet and just pretend it’s not happening. But what if instead of bunking off work, you’ve decided to tackle your bad mood? How do you go about it?
One of the most obvious ways is through food. It’s the fuel we put into our bodies every day so naturally it makes a big difference to how we feel. Maria Ferrey, a nutritionist for weight management company Naturhouse says: “According to figures from the Mental Health Organisation, there’s been a 34% decline in vegetable consumption and a 59% decline in fish consumption in the UK over the last 60 years.
“This means that we’re getting fewer essential fatty acids essential for mood and wellbeing and helps explain why we’re now suffering more from stress and depression. Not only are our lives becoming more hectic but we’re also consuming less food that could help us target the problems.”
According to Maria, if you’re trying to improve your mood, the key area to cut back on is processed food. She says: “Any processed food like refined sugars or starch, anything deep fried with trans-fat or with excessive preservatives will tend to give high and low peaks in the blood sugar, the dips making you feel hungry, irritable, tired and less able to concentrate.
“For a well-balanced diet that will keep energy and sugar levels balanced, we’re looking for food containing Vitamin B1 or Thiamine (complex B helps as well), magnesium, Folates, antioxidants like anthocynanin, Tryptophan, Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Zinc. “
FOODS TO BEAT THE BLUES:
Vitamin B1 or Thiamin: whole grain bread, pasta, oats and brown rice.
Magnesium: Dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, whole grains, yoghurt and dried fruit.
Folates: Dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach and some legumes.
Antioxidants like anthocyanin: Blackberry, blueberry and strawberry. Anthocyanin is the responsible for their strong colours.
Tryptophan: All protein based food such as fish, chicken, eggs, red meat and dairy products. Other food like chickpeas, peanut, bananas and sunflower seed contain as well tryptophan.
Omega 3: Oily fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. Also found in flaxseed, walnuts, beef, prawns and cauliflower.
Zinc: Seafood, beef, lamb, spinach, pumpkin and squash seeds, nuts beans and mushrooms.
But if you’re struggling to squeeze the amounts of nutrients you need into your daily diet, then supplements are a good place to start. Naturhouse specialises in plant-based products using the dried leaves or flowers of the Linden tree, Lemon balm, chamomile and bitter orange.
Linden’s particularly effective for stress because it treats insomnia, nervous tension and muscle spasms.
Lemon Balm has calming effects and is good for anxiety, sleep problems, and restlessness.
Bitter orange helps with chronic fatigue syndrome while chamomile’s been used for centuries in teas as a mild, relaxing sleep aid.
So while this might be the most depressing day of the year, there’s light at the end of the tunnel especially if you make changes to your diet now.
Banish Blue Monday and follow Maria’s top tips for a happier winter:
1. Stay Hydrated: most people go through life being dehydrated and they don’t even know it. We use about 1/ ½ – 2lt of water a day just by condensed water through our lungs and some from our gut that if we do not recover that water we are more likely to feel lethargic, tired and angry.
2. Make sure you’re having fruit and vegetables at least twice a day.
3. Eat oily fish twice a week.
4. Substitute all your starchy and processed food for healthy grains such as brown rice, quinoa, brown pasta and whole grain bread.
Naturhouse is a weight management company offering a free consultation with a dietician and weekly follow-up sessions to support people on their weight management journey. Find out more on 020 7985 0619