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Banish the Winter Blues

The festive season is over, its cold and dark outside and it is likely you may be feeling a bit down in the dumps. The good news is there are some nutritional tips that can help.

Symptoms of the “winter blues” include low energy, depression, feeling anti-social and craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods.  The main theory for us having the blues is due to the lack of daylight.  This is because we produce the “feel good hormone” serotonin during the day light hours, so it makes sense that the long dark nights limit its production.

The following are some dietary tips to help banish the winter blues by increasing serotonin.

Eat plenty of tryptophan rich foods

Serotonin is the brains happy neurotransmitter and it is made from a protein called tryptophan that we consume in our diet. Tryptophan rich foods include turkey, fish, chicken, avocadoes, pulses, oats, figs and bananas.

Include complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are needed to help carry tryptophan into the brain where it is converted into serotonin. (This is why we crave for carbohydrates and sugary foods when we suffer with the winter blues). Eat plenty of oats, brown rice, wholegrains, vegetables and legumes.

Essential fats

Omega 3 & Omega 6 are required for the production of serotonin and to help it to reach the brain. Include oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, sardines & tuna, flax seeds, avocadoes, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seed oils, brazil nuts and cashew nuts.

B vitamins

As well as being essential for energy production B vitamins, especially B3 & B6, are also needed to turn the protein we eat into tryptophan. Good sources include wholegrains, legumes, green leafy vegetables, nuts & seeds


An important mineral, not only for hormone conversion but also for the immune system, helping to protect against winter colds & flu. Oysters, chicken, brown rice, pumpkin seeds, split peas, nuts and oats are all good sources of zinc.

Finally, avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice and white pasta, biscuits, cakes and stimulants. These all have a negative effect on our blood sugar and can therefore cause fluctuations in mood and energy slumps.