We just released our January meal plan! If you’ve looked at the program, you may have noticed that this month we’ve put an emphasis on ingredients like spinach, sweet potato, berries and cashews.
Hint: We’ve done this for a reason!
Not only do we want you to feel great physically, but mentally too. These ingredients contain nutrients that have been scientifically proven to fight symptoms of depression.
But first, let’s take a step back….
January is the most depressing month of the year. So much so that the last Monday in January has been declared “Blue Monday”. For 1 in 4 women, the struggle of depression is very real. Depression causes us to feel sad and uninterested. It affects the way we feel about ourselves and the world around us.
Did you know that antidepressant use in Canada is among the highest in the world? This aside, what can we do to help ourselves battle symptoms of depression? Does the food we eat affect the way we feel mentally?
I’ve done a lot of research into this topic and the answer is clear: YES. Big time!
Diet has a massive impact on our mental health. What we put into our bodies can either negatively or positively affect our mood. Some foods can cause inflammation throughout our bodies, create chemical imbalances in our brains and even deplete our nutritional stores to worsen symptoms of depression. This is not what we want.
The good news is, there are foods out there that can help fight symptoms of depression. These foods are reparative, normalize our chemical imbalances and fulfill all our weird and wonderful nutritional needs.
Let’s talk about 5 of these healing foods that have the power to fight symptoms of depression and how they work.
Depression-Fighting Food #1: Sweet Potato
My beloved sweet potato! It’s more than just a delicious treat. It’s also super rich in Vitamin B6. Low levels of vitamin B6 have been associated with symptoms of depression, so it is essential we get our fix of this nutrient. Next week during the We Run This Year clean eating challenge, we’ll be incorporating lots of sweet potatoes into things like hummus, chili and even quiche!
Depression-Fighting Food #2: Spinach
Spinach is my favourite super food. So much goodness is packed into this leafy green including tryptophan and folate. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that floats around our brain and helps us feel happy. The tryptophan found in spinach helps increase our levels of serotonin, so we can turn that frown upside down. Spinach is also high in folate, another nutrient that helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain. Next week, we’ll be eating a TON of spinach in things like pesto, salads and smoothies!
Depression-Fighting Food #3: Cashews
As if you needed another excuse to eat cashews. One of my most favourite parts of the documentary Food Matters was when Dr. Andrew Saul explained that eating two handfuls of cashews is equivalent to taking a prescription dose of the popular antidepressant Prozac. He’s not joking! Cashews are also super high in tryptophan, which again, helps increase levels of that happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, serotonin. You can look forward to munching on cashews for a snack next week and also toasting them up for a super yummy stir fry.
Depression-Fighting Food #4: Berries
The “daily grind” often leaves our bodies worn down and inflamed. High levels of inflammation in the body have been linked to symptoms of depression. Berries contain high amounts of polyphenols, which have powerful anti-inflammatory effects that help our bodies recover. Next week we’ll be pumping a ton of these bad boys into our morning smoothies.
Depression-Fighting Food #5: Avocados
Last but not least, another favourite - avocado. Avocado is a serious superfood when it comes to depression as it contains tryptophan, folate AND omega-3. Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid that helps combat inflammation in the brain and also helps regulate our brain's neurotransmitters. We’ll be using avocado this week on top of our burgers and chili.
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