Feeling blue? You're not alone. El Paso County Health Department says they're seeing more cases of people who have the winter blues. Dietitian Shirley Lippincott says it's because we're having more cloudy days than usual and it can off-set chemicals in your brain. "Actually, there’s an effect of sunlight on your retina. It changes the brain chemistry and can create a form of depression."
Those trying to beat the sadness are calling places like Charlie Brown's Goodtime Travel to get out of town. "They want to go anyplace warm, like Las Vegas, Mexico, Florida," Deanne Berry, a travel agent said.
At the Sunkissed Tanning Salon, Terry Helm comes here for one reason. "It's nice to come here. I can pretend I’m in Jamaica."
But shedding light on your winter blues takes more than beating cabin fever. Lippincott says what you eat could determine how you feel. "Deep colored fruits, vegetables and protein." Increasing your endorphins could make these cold winter days a little more bearable. “If you have a cup of tea, chocolate, and a good laugh, you’ll have a much brighter winter," Lippincott said.
Lippincott also has more tips to boost your spirits:
--Include adequate carbohydrates, but control the calories. Choose foods that are deep dark colors and high fiber. Use portion control and prepare with healthy fat.
--Prepare your comfort foods from whole grains and high fiber foods.
--Choose healthy proteins including those with tryptophan, an essential amino acid that stimulates the release of brain chemicals (endorphins) that make you feel good. Tryptophan is found in meats, beans, nuts and eggs and especially in poultry and dairy foods.
--Include fat free Vitamin D fortified dairy daily. Decreased exposure to sun reduces you body’s ability to make Vitamin D.
--A little bit of chocolate, about 1oz. (the darker the better) will increase chemicals in the brain that will enhance you sense of well-being.
--Drinking a cup of tea (black or green)
These foods (fresh, frozen or canned) contain phytochemicals substances that act on the brain’s chemistry to improve your state of wellness:
-Pumpkin, sweet potatoes, dried plums, raisins, berries, purple grapes, spinach, beets, carrots, tomato, broccoli
-Lean poultry and meat, beans, seeds and nuts
-Olive, canola, flax, nuts and seeds, high fat fish (ie: salmon, mackerel)
-Fat free dairy, dark chocolate, black/green tea