As the days grow shorter and the temperature drops, many of us find ourselves grappling with the winter blues. The seasonal changes can cast a shadow on our mood and energy levels, affecting both our physical and mental well-being.
There are a number of ways you can support yourself through this period, though one which is often overlooked, and the focus of this blog post, is nutrition. Food plays a crucial role in supporting our mental health and focusing on incorporating foods which nourish our bodies and minds into our diet can help us to feel that bit better through the winter months.
vitamins you need for winter
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Limited exposure to sunlight during winter can lead to deficiencies in vitamin D, affecting mood and immunity. Focus on incorporating foods rich in vitamin D e.g. fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), fortified dairy products and eggs. In winter it is also worth considering including a vitamin D supplement in your diet.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: The Brain Boosters
Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in brain health and contain mood-stabilising properties, which make them a great addition to winter meals. These are found in abundance in fatty fish, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Vitamin C: The Immunity Supporter
Winter is often a time where cold and flu viruses are circulating, so it is particularly important to support your immune system. Great sources of vitamin C include: citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers and broccoli.
B Vitamins: The Energy Givers
B Vitamins, in particular B6 and B12, play a crucial role in energy production and neurotransmitter synthesis. Ensuring an adequate intake can help combat fatigue and support mental clarity. Lean meat, fish and leafy greens are rich sources of these vitamins.
Microbiome: A Crucial Component!
Your gut is home to a community of trillions of bacteria and fungi, and has a major influence on immunity and mood. No two microbiomes are the same; we are all unique, but the richer and more diverse our microbiome is, the healthier and happier we are. Our microbiome is best supported by a diverse range of fruits and vegetables, fermented foods like kimchi and kombucha, natural live yoghurt and prebiotic foods e.g. bananas, lentils, chickpeas, beans, garlic, leeks and nuts.
winter wellness meals
In the midst of busy student life, incorporating these foods doesn’t need to be a daunting task. Here are some quick n easy ideas to integrate these nutrients into your diet.
Easy Pasta Salad
Fuel your day with a simple yet nutritious pasta salad. Whole grain pasta, combined with omega-3-rich tinned tuna, cherry tomatoes, and fresh spinach, creates a dish that’s not only tasty but also supports brain health and mood. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon dressing for an extra boost.
Start your morning or refuel at lunch with a veggie-packed omelette wrap. Whisk together eggs with spinach, peppers, and feta cheese, then fold it into a wholewheat wrap. This protein and nutrient-packed meal is quick to make and perfect for students on the go.
Salmon & Quinoa Bowl
Elevate your lunch or dinner with a Salmon and Quinoa Bowl. A base of quinoa provides essential B vitamins, while baked salmon adds omega-3 fatty acids. Top it off with a mix of leafy greens and cherry tomatoes, and finish with a lemon-balsamic vinegar dressing for a refreshing, mood-boosting touch.
Start your day with a vibrant Mood-Boosting Smoothie Bowl. Blending Greek yoghurt with a medley of berries, a banana, and almonds (or almond butter) provides a nutrient-packed, mood-enhancing breakfast. Top it with flaxseeds for an omega-3 kick to support both your body and mind.
Chickpea and Vegetable Stir Fry
For a quick and hearty meal, whip up a Chickpea and Vegetable Stir-Fry. Tinned chickpeas join forces with colourful broccoli, peppers, and carrots in a flavorful stir-fry. Pair it with brown rice for a wholesome dish that’s rich in fibre, vitamins, and minerals, helping you stay energised through the winter months.
As we venture into the winter months, let’s remember that our dietary choices can be powerful tools in maintaining both our physical and mental wellbeing. By incorporating these nourishing ingredients into our meals, we can support our immunity, boost our mood, and navigate through the winter blues with resilience. So, let your plate be your winter ally, and savour the goodness that nutrition brings to your body and mind.