Christmas is but a distant memory, the cupboards once overflowing with tubs of Quality Street and boxes of biscuits now sit hollow, with a sheet of dust forming on their shelves. But hey, we’re in a new decade. 2020. TWENTY-TWENTY! It may sound cool but, even so, a new decade doesn’t change the fact that January is quite frankly a drag. Colds and other viruses fly around, mere pennies sit in our bank accounts, rain falls relentlessly at times, dark mornings greet us and dark evenings draw in too early.
Right enough of that, let’s talk about something we all love and appreciate…food! Science tells us that we can eat to beat the January blues by opting for mood-boosting foods. Here’s some ideas to add to your shopping list this month.
It’s thought that low levels of omega-3 can contribute to low moods, so be sure to add some fatty acids to your diet to boost your mood. The good news for those taking part in Veganuary is that it’s not just oily fish (i.e. salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna) that’ll give you that extra omega-3. Reach for walnuts, flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, soya, rapeseed and flaxseed oil, as well as dark, green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale.
Vitamin D is another vital vitamin with mood-boosting properties and with the lack of sunlight in January we’re unable to produce this vitamin by ourselves, meaning we’re not hitting our recommended daily dose. Enter the vitamin D foods… Fortified breakfast cereals, dairy, eggs and fish such as sardines and herrings are great sources for those not following a vegan diet, full-time. If you’re looking for vegan vitamin D sources then mushrooms (specifically portobello, maitake, morel, button, and shiitake) and tofu (that is fortified with vitamin D – check the label) make delicious choices.
Lentils help increase the production of serotonin* in the brain, whilst help to stabilise your blood sugar levels, keeping your mood even (very important). They even help boost your iron levels, meaning you get a burst of energy too.
Chocolate (you were hoping to find this in the list, I know it!), well raw, chocolate, or Cacao Beans, contain magnesium which is an essential nutrient for boosting energy levels. One small square of dark chocolate (70% cacao) contains brain releasing endorphins and boosting serotonin levels. Consume in moderation if you’re trying to offset the Christmas bulk.
Not a specific food this time but an entire meal… As easy/appealing as it may be to skip breakfast in the attempt to shift the Christmas pounds, the impact on your mood and energy levels needs to be considered. Skipping meals leads to low blood sugar levels, which can affect energy levels and your mood. Dietician Lyndel Costain says a bowl of porridge provides mood-friendly B vitamins, iron and zinc, and keeps blood glucose levels steady.
As money is tight for a lot of us in January, we can use this as the perfect excuse to prepare breakfasts and lunches, that are filled with all of the above foods, at home and avoid the cost of the daily supermarket meal deal throughout the month. Win, win!
The lack of money in January also prevents us from socialising as much as we’d like to (something that generally contributes to a lot of our happiness). Jellybean client TRU (the new feel good food and specialty coffee concept in London) recently discovered that 95% of people say spending time with and talking to true friends helps them cope with the stresses of life and maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. With the research^ also revealing that spending an evening in with great food and drink is our favourite way to spend time with a true friend (34%), we needn’t break the bank and reject those offers for socialising with friends in January. Invite friends and loved ones over to your house for a cuppa and a catch up, cook a delicious meal using those all-important good-mood foods, or why not whack a frozen pizza in the oven (comfort food exists for a reason after all, right?!).
I hope all of us can enjoy a happy and healthy January. If you give any of these feel good foods a try over the course of the month, let us know @JellybeanAgency!
*Serotonin helps regulate your mood naturally. When your serotonin levels are normal, you feel happier, calmer, more focused, less anxious and more emotionally stable.
^1,000 UK respondents Toluna October 2019.