Food vs. Mood: Using foods to combat seasonal depression

With winter comes snow, cold and the inevitable lack of sunlight. As many know, this decrease of sun can lead to seasonal depression and make winter downright miserable.

Thankfully, we don’t always have to rush to medications or expensive lamps in order to improve our moods. Certain foods and beverages can be both beneficial and natural. Even Hippocrates knew thousands of years ago that we should, “let food be thy medicine.” How do we follow this philosopher’s wisdom today?

1. Eat low glycemic index foods every two hours.

Dr. Leslie Hildebrandt, RD, a dietetics professor at Central Michigan University, said that if serotonin and dopamine levels are low, they can be raised through food. By eating low Glycemic Index carbohydrates consistently throughout the day, you can keep your blood sugar level relatively high while reducing cravings later in the evening – which, as well all know, often leads to feelings of guilt.

2. Take your vitamins.

Vitamins B12, folate and B6 are all important nutrients used to create the neurotransmitters that increase your happiness level. Make sure to get 100 percent of the daily recommended intake for each source.

3. Eat five servings of brightly-colored fruits and vegetables per day.

This will help you get all of your vitamin C requirements, which has many nutritional benefits for the body. Fruits and veggies are also naturally low in fat, calories and sodium.

“I enjoy buying frozen fruits and veggies to make fruit smoothies,” said Clinton Township senior Kelsey Butzu. “They are not only more affordable than fresh produce, but the vibrant colors can really brighten your day.”

4. Boost memory with nuts and egg yolks. 

With the beginning of the semester right around the corner, students need to prepare their brains once again for homework, exams and projects. Although people with Alzheimer’s often take choline to enhance memory, studies are now showing that choline may be beneficial for everyone. Great sources of choline are found in nuts and egg yolks. So, even though we’re told egg whites alone are healthier, this is one case where you may want to indulge in a full-egg omelet – and hey, we’ll use any excuse we can.


Marquette senior Amanda Leonard says this has become a popular term to describe those who are angry due to hunger. When Leonard is experiencing this, she has two go-to solutions.

“Keep a water bottle on you at all times,” Leonard said. “Water keeps you hydrated and reduces the risk of developing a headache. Also, pack a snack with some carbohydrates in it, like air-popped popcorn. Carbohydrates can even out serotonin levels, making you feel happy and less stressed.”