“Feel Better Brownies” + other Mood-Boosting Foods help beat Seasonal Depression for yourself or a loved one
“The very thought of food makes me nauseous.” You may feel this way, or have heard it from a friend dealing with grief or depression.
The combination of cold, short Winter days, and Valentine’s decorations lining up the aisles at every store, can make it difficult to even think about food.
Eating too much, or not eating at all, can be common symptoms of sadness, including Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), affecting more than 10 million Americans yearly. The problem is, that whether or not you are eating – if you aren’t eating the right kinds of foods, your mood is only going to get worse.
Although it may seem like indulging in highly processed carbs and sugars can bring us temporary comfort, they actually do more harm than good. Foods such as white bread or pasta; white rice; crackers; cookies; soda and ice cream all cause an increase in blood sugar levels which triggers a hormonal response from our body trying to reduce the level again. This often results in changes in our moods accompanied by feelings of fatigue – symptoms linked to depression.
Not eating at all is also a bad idea. Without food, our bodies cannot get access to the essential nutrients it needs to function. A lack of vitamins and minerals can lead to depression and other psychological issues.
The good news is that it only takes a few simple ingredients to whip up something special for a friend in need. And you don’t have to have a special degree in nutrition to prepare the goods.
The most important kinds of nutrition you can get when feeling down are those that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, and serotonin-enhancing foods. All of which have been found to have a positive effect on your mood.
Here’s a full list of mood-boosting nutrients:
- Vitamin B: Vitamin B helps with the production of neurotransmitters, which are responsible for helping you feel happy and relaxed.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: These fatty acids are found in fish, eggs and nuts. Studies have linked omega-3s with decreased depression levels.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D helps fight depression, fatigue and mood swings. You can find it in fish and dairy products.
- Calcium: Calcium helps regulate neurotransmitters and has been linked to improved mood. You can find this mineral in dairy products, fortified juices, nuts and legumes.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps with stress and anxiety levels. You can find it in dark chocolate, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Serotonin-enhancing fibers: Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps your mood. Foods like bananas, oats, barley and apples contain fibers that aid in the production of serotonin.
- Complex carbohydrates like whole grains are a great source of energy and have been linked to better mental health. They help release serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that can make you feel happier and more relaxed. Choose options like oats, quinoa, brown rice, millet or bulgur wheat for a mood-
Self-Love Care Package Ideas
Who doesn’t like gooey, chocolate brownies? Especially when they are low in carbs and sugar, and include the essential nutrients you need to help you get out of a funk. The best part… they still taste amazing!
- 1 box Duncan Hines Keto-Friendly Chewy Fudge Brownie Mix
- 6 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
- 2 Eggs
- 1/3 cup Milk
- Optional Mix-Ins: protein powder, dark chocolate chips, walnuts, peanuts
- Optional Toppings: dark chocolate chips, walnuts, slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds
- Follow the box instructions, replace the water with milk, and replace the butter with Coconut Oil
- Mix in and/or top with a variety of the suggested options
- Bake as instructed
The Nutrient-Rich Benefits of Feel-Better Brownies
In a nutshell (no pun intended), there are multiple benefits of the ingredients in these super-simple brownies, especially if you pile on the mix-ins.
- Eggs are a great source of protein and vitamin B
- Milk is your #1 source of Vitamin D
- Coconut oil is full of healthy fats and contains Omega-3s
- You will find more protein, magnesium and more Omegas in dark chocolate chips, nuts, and seeds
- The whole grain content in the brownie mix is a great source of serotonin-boosting fibers
Although there are multiple wheat-free, sugar-free brownie mixes on the market, the keto-friendly mixes tend to have more nutrient-rich ingredients, like this exact Duncan Hines mix that has Almond and Coconut flours.
Epsom Salt has been known to help reduce stress levels, pain and inflammation. It’s also known for improving circulation and detoxing the body, all of which can help improve your mood.
Fill a bathtub or a foot soak basin with warm water, 1-2 cups of Epsom salts and 5-10 drops of essential oils.
You could gift a full bag of Epsom Salts, sold at almost any grocery or all-purpose store. OR, you can pour two cups of the salts into a gift bag or jar.
Mixed Nuts & Chocolate
Nuts are full of fiber, magnesium and healthy fats. The protein in nuts has also been found to help with stress relief and mood regulation. Add a mix of nuts like almonds, cashews, peanuts and walnuts with some dark chocolate chips to this pack for some energy and more serotonin-boosting fibers.
Here is a recipe for a Feel-Good Snack Mix:
Don’t worry too much about the exact measurements, or whether or not they are salted. In the case where you don’t have something in your pantry, just replace it with something else – or leave it out altogether.
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cup cranberries or craisins
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
Mix, taste, and serve!
Healing by Design, a Keepsake Journal to Work through Grief
Grief is hard, there’s no way around it. Coloring pretty pictures isn’t going to change the loss that you’ve experienced. But it can bring life to your gray world and change the way you feel about yourself as well as your circumstances.
Healing by Design is a small keepsake journal that holds a variety of creative activities to help you on your journey. From coloring pages to journal prompts and poetry games, use it however you please. There is no wrong way – it’s simply just for you.