At the Twenty Mile Club, we care about your mental health and January is commonly a time where people experience ‘the blues’, so we’ve reached out to registered Dietitian Katherine Kimber, the founder behind @nudenutritionrd to help us. Kat is going to #StripTheNonsense for us this January by helping you fight the winter mood blues through food.  We’ll leave it here for Kat to take you through it.

We all have good days and bad days, but January can be particularly tough! Do some foods make us feel even more grumpy and low than others? Do you find after some meals you  feel tired and sluggish? Is it possible to improve our mood through good food?  The research tells us YES! There are many foods, nutrients and food associations that can affect the way that we feel and that’s why I’ve outlined these 4 top tips to help you combat the winter blues to really help you kick start your year. 

 

  • Getting the right vitamins and minerals

I know we hear it time and time again, and I know it’s pretty boring. However, eating a ‘balanced diet’ is so important. Without this, there is a risk of your body lacking certain vitamins and minerals linked to your mood. In particular, a lack of the following nutrients can be linked to a low mood, so good sources are listed below to ensure you include them in your diet.

Iron: Red meat, poultry, fish, pulses, beans. (Avoid drinking tea with your main meal as the Tannins in tea can reduce absorption of Iron).  

B Vitamins: Wholegrain cereals, animal protein (meat, fish, poultry), eggs and dairy. 

Selenium: Brazil nuts, meat, fish, seeds and wholegrain bread.

 TIP: Eating good food should always come before taking supplement pills. Eating plenty of fruit (2/day), vegetables (minimum 3/day), whole grain cereal foods, and some proteins including oily fish will support a good supply of nutrients for good health and mood.

 

  • Avoid cutting large food groups, especially ‘carbs’

 Not only is this unsustainable, but it may result in missing out on vital nutrients. Carbohydrates are an important part of our diet, providing a good source energy, calcium and B vitamins. The association with feeling bloated, puffy, or heavy often lies with eating refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice cakes etc.) and too many of them in one sitting or one day. As much as I despise using the ‘C’ word (calorie counting), there is a lot of confusion around carbohydrates being fattening! Carbohydrates are not particularly calorific, however, the additional fats that are often added to them can be (e.g. butter with bread, cheese, cream and oil with pasta).

TIP: A rough portion of starchy carbohydrate (e.g. brown basmati or wild rice, wholegrain pasta, sweet potato) is the size of the fist of your hand. Ensuring you include slow release carbohydrates (brown or wild rice, quinoa, sweet potato, oats, pulses), and eating regularly (every 3-4 hours) is really important for a stable blood glucose and therefore may help support a stable mood. Listen to your body, and don’t deprive it.

 

  • Promote good brain chemicals

‘Serotonin’ is a chemical in our brain to improve our mood and how we feel. Serotonin is made from a protein called tryptophan. Carbohydrates may help more tryptophan enter the brain, therefore consuming a diet high in protein/fats and low in carbohydrates may contribute to low mood.  

TIP: Combine your source of protein (i.e. lean meat/ fish/ eggs/ yoghurt/ tofu) with a fist size portion of slow release carbohydrate source such as root vegetables, fruit, wholegrain crackers, brown basmati rice, quinoa.

 

  • Watch the caffeine

As a consequence of feeling low in mood or energy, caffeine can be seen as a quick pick me up. It acts as a stimulant to improve feelings of alertness, and reduce the effects of feeling tired. However, too much caffeine, particularly in those who are not used to it, may cause irritability and headaches. Caffeine can be found in tea (including green), coffee, dark coloured fizzy drinks (e.g. cola), chocolate and energy drinks.

TIP: For a better night’s sleep and stable mood, you could try not to have more than 2-3 caffeinated drinks or food containing it per day, and avoid caffeine after 3pm.

 

 That’s it from me. Thanks for having me @TwentyMileClub and have a happy & healthy 2018!

 

 You can reach out to Kat on Instagram using the #StripTheNonsense posting a photo with your nutrition question. You can also contact Kat  for personalised nutrition support via her website www.nudenutrition.club where you can obtain tailored support that works for you and your lifestyle.