7 Ways To Beat The January Blues And Eat Your Way To A Happier Self

 
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As the hype of Christmas and the New Year fades into a hazy memory, January can feel like a bit of an anti-climax. Face it, being peeled out of a warm bed to go back to work is a bit of a drag. Your wine-induced resolution to get fit has crashed and your promise to eat healthier has folded quicker than it began. You're a little down in the dumps and to make it worse, Blue Monday is lurking in the shadows and you've resigned yourself as a helpless but willing participant in what is supposed to be the most miserable day of the year. 

But it doesn't have to be this way. 

January is hard enough to get through right? It's cold, dark and we're all a little dishevelled. So give yourself a break. January shouldn't be about squeezing all your life goals into one month. Take this time to lose yourself in a good book, enjoy taking a break from socialising and spend time on reflecting and self care. Focus on eating mood-boosting foods that help support your health and make you feel positive through the winter months.  It’s a well-known fact that what you eat can affect how you feel. So I spoke to nutritional therapist Lauren Gayfer, Founder of The Fairy Food Mother to find out just how important food is in elevating your mood.  Here's what I discovered, plus 7 ways to beat the January blues and eat your way to a happier self.

1) Balance your blood sugar 

 
 

Do you ever notice you feel a bit irritable if you've not eaten? Or do you feel sleepy and tired after a huge meal?  It's all to do with blood sugar levels. There's a common theme to all the tips below and that's ensuring your blood sugar levels are balanced. 

2) Include healthy fats in your diet

Lauren recommends eating foods which are a good source of healthy fats, especially Omega 3 fats. These help to balance your mood by increasing dopamine in the brain. Oily fish such as  wild salmon, mackerel and sardines are great to include along with chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts. Avocados and coconut oil are also good fats, which you should not be afraid of eating regularly if you want to look after your brain.

3) Stay away from stimulants

Avoiding stimulants like sugar, alcohol and caffeine will help to improve your mood. These highly addictive substances can contribute to your blood sugar fluctuating and increasing your cravings. Not good when you're trying to eat more healthily.

4) Stay Hydrated

 
 
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You can never underestimate the benefits of drinking plenty of water. Include infused waters like ginger and lime, and herbal teas for variety.  Apart from keeping your skin supple and looking young,  water keeps you alert and helps you concentrate. Great for when the afternoon slump hits you in the office.

5) Ditch the white carbs

 
 
 Image: Lauren Gayfer The Fairy Food Mother

Image: Lauren Gayfer The Fairy Food Mother

 
 

Keep your blood sugar and the cravings monster in balance by ditching white carbs like bread, pasta and rice for more nutritious alternatives like sweet potatoes, quinoa and cauliflower rice. We've all heard about slow releasing carbohydrates and for good reason. They keep you fuller for longer, help stabilise blood sugar and stop you reaching for sugary snacks.

6)    Ensure you get enough protein

Including protein into your meals will not only help to balance blood sugar, but also provide essential amino acids - the building blocks of the human body. One of these amino acids is ‘tryptophan’. This natural mood regulator is converted to serotonin, one of the body’s main feel-good hormones. Consuming tryptophan-rich foods can help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and boost feelings of well-being. Foods rich in tryptophan include eggs, salmon, chicken, turkey, bananas, yoghurt and sesame seeds. It's best to consume higher welfare, organic dairy and animal products. 

7) Start the day with a good breakfast

 
 
 Image courtesy of The Fairy Food Mother

Image courtesy of The Fairy Food Mother

 
 

Here's  a recipe of a power-packed breakfast that will set you up for a day at the office.  Lauren's Gorgeous Green Smoothie contains spinach for a fantastic source of iron and B vitamins along with avocado, - a great source of protein and healthy fats, which helps reduce inflammation. Adding a stick of celery is alkalising and great for counteracting the effects of  acid-forming foods such as caffeine and sugar.

This smoothie supports the immune system, encouraging healthy liver detoxification and supports digestive health by providing an easy-to-digest meal, rich in leafy greens which encourage beneficial gut bacteria.

Lauren's Gorgeous Green Smoothie Recipe:

1 pear

1/4 or 1/2 avocado (depending how thick you like it)

Large handful of spinach

1 Stick of celery

2 tsp almond butter

1 tbsp coconut oil

250mls unsweetened almond milk or coconut water

Instructions

Chop up the pear, avocado and celery and whizz together with all the other ingredients for a delicious power-packed start to the day!

I asked Lauren what the one piece of advice would be to get through the January blues:

"Schedule some cherished time for yourself each week. Having something to look forward to like a manicure, a trip to the spa or a wintry walk with a friend, followed by an indulgent hot choc (we all need a little choccie boost!), can make the long, dark days so much more bearable"

Lauren helps busy, burnt-out women feel amazing using the incredible healing powers of real food. She frequently runs her signature Free 5 Day 'Shift the Sugar' Challenge. To be added to the waitlist for the next round click here (https://the-fairy-food-mother.mykajabi.com/p/shift-the-sugar-challenge)