Longing for the days when New Year’s Eve was a big ole’ party with people sardined into a hot dancing apartment? With the holidays upon us, a lot of us have been down in the dumps.  The pandemic is robbing us of our social support networks, and has taken a toll on our sense of well-being.  But we don’t have to just sit back and accept it. To help our bodies get through this difficult time, we can nourish them to produce more happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. 

Feelings of anxiety and melancholy affect us as parents, as professionals and as partners. We want to stay positive with our children and focus on their needs. Our jobs too, are demanding, requiring our full, focused energy. Depressed feelings can affect the precious relationships we have with our partners too, sabotaging our sexual health and reducing libido. 

By nourishing our bodies with the right foods, we can keep our spirits high. In fact, scientific research shows that the food we eat can have a rapid effect on the way we feel, affecting mood within a matter of hours! 

To be happy and positive, eat more fruits and vegetables. As a general rule, people who eat more fruits and vegetables have less anxiety and stress. Scientific research has demonstrated that fruits and vegetables quite immediately boost positive feelings. Subjects also reported better mood the next day. To feel great, shoot for 7-9 servings of fruit and/or vegetables.

Antioxidants help too:  Studies have shown that the more antioxidants we consume, the less depressed we are. Lycopene, found in tomatoes, is particularly beneficial, with those eating the most tomato products experiencing the least depression. If you want something that works fast, eat apples, blueberries or citrus, which have antioxidant flavonoids. Flavonoids boost mood within 2 hours of eating them. 

Avoid processed foods. Human beings were meant to feast upon the earth, not to dine from a box or can. Research shows that eating highly processed foods is associated with depression. Eating homemade, whole foods though, was found to be protective against depression.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C rapidly improves mood, according to several studies. Because this vitamin is so critical in metabolizing dopamine, we need it to stay positive. In fact, those with mood and psychiatric disorders are often deficient in vitamin C. According to research, the higher our vitamin C levels are, the less confusion, anger and depression we have. For this reason, clinical studies have effectively used this vitamin to complement other interventions for depression. Potatoes and fruit, such as citrus and berries, are great sources of vitamin C.

Include Potassium. Potassium is truly a mental-health food because of its powerful effect on mood. In research, a high potassium, low sodium diet was associated with positive affect. Conversely, emotional disturbances are associated with low potassium intake. Yams, potatoes, squash, bananas, oranges and mangoes are all good sources of potassium.

If the fact that you haven’t seen a good time in months is getting you down, remember, we’re all in the same boat. This will pass, but in the meantime, treat your body with the care it deserves, by feeding your emotional health. This will lift your spirits while we wait for life to get back to normal.