So, the nights are drawing in (far too quickly), the weather’s damp and miserable, the mornings are dark and dreary and you just want to hibernate … some people get very down and lethargic at this time of year due to the lack of daylight hours and the miserable weather ..  a condition commonly known as S.A.D. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

We all produce a hormone called Cortisol which should be high in the mornings to wake us up, and low in the evenings so we fall to sleep with ease.  It is therefore natural that when your alarm goes off in the dark, that your body is not hormonally ready to be up and about, and likewise, as the nights drawn in even more so, and your cortisol levels are lowering much earlier than in the summer months, that you are ready to go to bed at teatime!  In the evening your body produces another hormone called Melatonin to help you fall asleep. The cycle of your Cortisol and Sleep pattern is called Circadium Rhythm and it is essential you maintain a regular sleep routine as a first step to optimise your mood and overall health.  Sleep is recovery time for your body.  Think of it as your body recharging in the same way your recharge your mobile phone … and how dependent are we all on a mobile phone with a full battery?!!

S.A.D. is likened to Depression and therefore you can take diet and lifestyle changes to improve your mood and energy levels at this time of year, even when your Circadium Rhythm may not want to.

Foods to eat more which will help to increase Serotonin (the Happy Hormone):

Include some PROTEIN at every meal.  Animal protein, especially chicken and turkey, containing the essential amino acid Trytophan which is the precursor to Serotonin. 

Include ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFAs) at every meal as they help to balance the nervous system, promote neurotransmitter balance and relieve depression.

You could add seeds to your breakfast, have some oily fish for your lunch and snack on nuts.

Eat WHOLEGRAIN CARBOHYDRATES which will help to stabilise your blood sugar levels and in turn your mood: 

You could eat oats for breakfast, wholegrain breads such as sourdough for lunch and Brown rice or quinoa for tea

If you are VEGETARIAN, eat plenty of avocado, beans, lentils and bananas as these food sources are also high in Trytophan.

Eat lots of WARM FOODS such as soups and hearty casseroles which will nourish your digestive system.  You don’t see Eskimo’s eating Salad!

Never, ever … skip a meal.  Food is fuel for every single cell in your body and brain.

Foods to avoid:

Any foods and drinks which stimulates a short-term mood lift, followed by a much bigger, and longer lasting drop in mood and energy levels … eg.


SUGAR, ALCOHOL, CAFFEINE, ARTIFICAL ADDITIVES

All of the above, can hugely disrupt your deep sleep, so steer clear, as a good night’s sleep, is a huge factor in factoring for a better mood.

Rachel Hill has been a BANT Registered Nutritional Therapist since 2009.

For further information visit www.rachelhillnutrition.co.uk Nutritional Therapy Consultations available at Acorn Natural Health Centre via Skype.  Please contact rachel@rachelhillnutrition.co.uk to book an appointment.