As a Chicago-area resident, I have noticed our days are definitely getting cooler and darker! Less sunlight decreases the feel-good chemical, serotonin, which influences appetite, mood, and sleep quality. In case you missed this week’s Facebook Live, you can watch the replay here.
We need a plan for preserving serotonin for mood support throughout the darker days. The less serotonin we preserve, the higher the risk for mood changes, lethargy, and food cravings. Let’s not have that happen this winter! There will be enough going on in the coming months, so there’s no need to add insult to injury.
Focus on these three things:
- Get enough vitamin D. Aside from immune function, vitamin D helps with mood regulation. Our summer stores deplete after four months (it’s why everyone gets crabby around February- do the math from when daylight starts to dwindle). Please don’t just randomly take a bunch of vitamin D. Have your levels checked and go from there. Usually, if indicated, you’d need more in the winter months as opposed to summer.
- Increase NEAT time (Non-Exercise Activity Time). Movement increases serotonin to the brain. 10-30 minutes of movement twice daily (yes, you’re reading this right), and two twenty-minute resistance or strength training per week will all increase serotonin. Daily household chores also count!
- Increase serotonin supporting foods, such as from prebiotic and probiotic sources (85% of serotonin is found in the gut). Include yogurt, beans, garlic, onions, apples, underripe bananas, and fermented foods as a regular part of your diet.
You’ll also want a food-free plan or activity for the time you’ll have spent without eating. What’s your plan?