Written by Alison Knauss and Autumn Herr, Winona State University Students
The changing seasons affect many of us, especially during the bitter cold Minnesota winters. According to Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that relates to changing seasons. Symptoms begin in the fall and continue into the winter months, making you feel moody and draining your energy. Symptoms of SAD are very similar to depression, including; feeling depressed, losing interest in hobbies and activities, low energy levels, sleeping problems, and difficulty concentrating.
However, there are many ways to combat SAD and fight the winter blues. Getting as much sunlight as possible is important to raise your serotonin levels and reduce your risk of SAD. Aromatherapy is another way to help those with SAD. Essential oils affect areas of the brain that control moods as well as helping with sleep and appetite (see diffuser recommendation at end of article). Exercise is always helpful with any kind of depression. Staying active, especially outside, can also help with any stubborn holiday weight gain.
Another symptom of SAD is the craving of unhealthy simple carbs which can lead to unnecessary weight gain. Whole grains and complex carbs, denser carbohydrates, have been found to increase serotonin levels. Dark leafy greens are rich sources of folate and vitamin B12 which also increase your serotonin levels. Fish is high in omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D which boasts production on dopamine and serotonin. Dark chocolate causes a reduction in stress causing hormones due to antioxidants called flavonoids (the chocolate must be 75% cocoa). Low fat milk and yogurt contain high levels of vitamin D, protein and calcium, which can ease anxiety and mood swings.
Try this healthy dinner recipe that includes many recommended SAD-combating foods:
Lemon Garlic Herb Crusted Salmon
3 oz butter
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp chopped fresh dill
1 clove minced garlic
4 4.5 oz salmon fillet
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place all ingredients except salmon in a small bowl and melt in microwave for 30-45 seconds.
- Stir until combined.
- Place salmon fillets on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Using a pastry brush, coat the salmon with the lemon herb butter, evenly spreading it over the tops of each fillet.
- Bake in oven on the top or second to top rack for 10-12 minutes or until salmon is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
- Alternately the fish can be broiled on medium/high heat on the second to top rack for 8-10 minutes, or until cooked through. This method will give you a bit more crunchy caramelized crust.
Recipe from mynaturalfamily.com
Roasted Broccoli and Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes peeled and diced (about 8 cups)
2 large heads of broccoli chopped (about 8 cups)
2-3 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ tsp onion powder
¼ cayenne pepper
¼ tsp dried oregano
¼ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and mix together seasonings
- In a large bowl, mix together chopped veggies with olive oil and seasoning mixture. Tossing well to evenly coat.
- Transfer veggies onto two non-stick baking sheets or roasting pans and roast in the oven for 30 minutes. Tossing veggies once halfway through.
- Sweet potatoes should be fork tender and broccoli nice and crisp.
Recipe from eatyourselfskinny.com