Feb. 6, 2024

Beating the Winter Blues

President's Blog
Margaret Hudson
President, Burnbrae Farms
4th Generation Farmer

Do you battle the winter blahs as the temperature drops? Growing up in a farming family means that I spent plenty of time outdoors in all four seasons, and I continue to do so. I find that the shorter days of winter, coupled with cloud cover and less daylight, can sometimes leave me feeling a bit sluggish.

As I meet people in the farm, food and healthcare communities, I find that “ways to get through the long winter” is a popular subject. From winter walks to comfort food to vitamin D, here are some of the tips that I’ve heard over the years that may help you brave the elements. They work well for me.

1. Stay active. There will be days when it’s -20°C outside and too cold to go for a walk. Don’t let that derail your plans to get moving. Exercise has been shown to help combat depression and elevate mood by increasing endorphins and other brain chemicals that make you feel happier. Walking just 15 minutes a day can make a difference in your mood. Too cold outside? Walk the aisles of a local mall or grocery store. Many community centres have free indoor walking tracks, too. But remember: Getting daylight also helps beat the winter blues, so walk outside whenever the weather allows.

2. Get enough vitamin D. This one is based on science. The sun’s rays are converted to vitamin D in our body when the sun hits our skin. But in the colder months, we get less sunshine, plus more of our skin is covered by clothes. That means we don’t make as much vitamin D. You can get vitamin D from some foods, including eggs like Naturegg Nature’s Best or Naturegg Omega Plus eggs. Health Canada recommends that Canadian adults also take vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D helps reduce inflammation, combat depression and support immune function, so you want to make sure you get enough every day.

3. Choose foods with omega-3 fats: Make sure your diet includes foods that contain omega-3 fats, such as Naturegg Omega-3 eggs and fatty fish, such as salmon, trout and mackerel. Omega-3 fats have been shown to reduce symptoms of depression and help improve mood . Eat eggs daily and incorporate fatty fish into your meals at least twice a week to reap the mood-boosting benefits.

4. Enjoy fruits and vegetables: The colour on the plate is enough to make you smile! Try to include more citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and clementines. Their refreshing flavours can brighten up gloomy winter days. Dark leafy greens such as kale and spinach are rich in magnesium, iron and vitamins A, C, and K which help combat fatigue and boost overall mood. Winter staples such as carrots, sweet potatoes and beets provide a steady source of energy. Roast them with olive oil and spices for a warming side dish.

5. Embrace comfort foods: Some foods make us feel good when we eat them. They are known as comfort foods and they are often tied to a pleasant memory related to family, holidays or vacations. Comfort foods also fill true cravings. When we feel bad, the body releases stress hormones which break down fats and carbohydrates to give us energy. That leaves us craving foods to replace the fat and carbs that were lost. It may be why we crave foods such pasta and pizza. Make room for nourishing comfort foods as part of your balanced eating plan. A favourite dish can make any day better.

6. Add eggs to your diet: Eggs check so many of the boxes listed above! They have a mix of essential nutrients including mood stabilizing vitamin D and magnesium, and some are enriched with omega-3 fats. Eggs also contain folate, a vitamin that is connected with serotonin, the hormone that promotes good mood. And talk about comfort food! Souffles, omelettes and Eggs Benedict hit the right nostalgic note for many people. Try some of these classic comforts:

Being active and eating nutrient-dense foods are the best tips that I have heard for beating the winter blahs and staying energized in the colder months.

Margaret Hudson

President and CEO, Burnbrae Farms