Foods to Beat the Winter Blues

Condé Nast Digital StudioCondé Nast Digital StudioBy Sarah-Jane Bedwell, SELF magazine

When it's cold and cloudy out, it's hard not to come down with a case of the winter blues. Before you go on a search for some happy pills, check out what's in your pantry and fridge...

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..Studies show that people who eat a healthy diet, low in fat and simple sugars and high in fiber, generally have a positive outlook on life.

Specifically, you'll want to stock up on leafy greens such as spinach or arugula, lentils, lean beef, low-fat dairy products, and whole grain cereals, rich sources of B vitamins and folate, which help produce feel-good hormones such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine.

To enhance the release of these feel-good hormones even more, combine a healthy complex carbohydrate food like whole grain breads and cereals, potatoes, or fruit with a lean protein such as fish, poultry, lean beef, eggs, or tofu.

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Fish like salmon or tuna, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to improve the workings of the cerebral cortex, which is the "sensory center" where pleasure and happiness are processed. So it's easy to see why eating fish 2-3 times per week can be good for your mood.

Vitamin D is called the "sunshine vitamin" so it makes sense why having low levels of Vitamin D might increase the feelings of the winter blues. To get plenty of Vitamin D in your diet, include foods like egg yolks, fish, like salmon, which is canned with the bones, and low-fat dairy products.

And don't forget that skipping meals or going too long without eating can lead to a drop in blood sugar, which is often associated with mood swings.

However, if you are consistently eating a healthy diet and exercising and still experiencing feelings of depression, don't hesitate to see your doctor!

A Day of Eating to Beat the Blues:

Breakfast:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup skim milk
1/4 cup walnuts
1/2 cup blueberries

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Lunch:
Arugula and spinach salad made with:
1 boiled egg
1/2 cup orange segments
2 tbsp. sunflower seeds
A drizzle of olive oil and vinegar
1/2 whole wheat pita

Snack:

4oz. plain nonfat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup raspberries
1/4 cup whole grain cereal

Dinner:

5oz. grilled salmon
1/3 cup quinoa
1/2 cup steamed broccoli topped with:
2 tbsp. crumbled goat cheese

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