Here's How You Defeat the Winter Blues - Drew Ramsey MD
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Winter is a misunderstood season. The holiday frenzy and new year often obscure the best winter has to offer — a season of inward reflection, comfort foods and lots of sleep. Adjusting with the seasons is essential to functioning your best, but winter presents a challenge for many of us.

About 20 to 25 percent of people will suffer with mood changes during the winter months. Along with low mood, other symptoms of depression appear for many, such as changes in sleep and appetite, irritability, feelings of hopelessness and guilt. If you are struggling, it is time to take action and, perhaps, reconsider your goals for this season.

Below are a few tips to consider, but my main point is this: live seasonally. Winter is a time to reflect, rest and slow down.

Breathe.

Few things are as central to your mental health and perspective as your breath. My colleagues at The Center for Mind-Body Medicine led by Jim Gordon, M.D., have researched the powerful effects of our minds on our overall health and resilience. The simple act of intentionally breathing, softening the belly, closing the eyes and clearing the mind is real medicine. Don’t let the simplicity fool you.

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Stop Making Plans.

A few weekends ago, we had no plans and I panicked a bit. No play dates for our kids, no one was coming over –nothing. As I pondered my last-minute attempts to socialize, I looked at our living room. The sun was pouring in and baskets of toys lay waiting for revelry. We spent the next two hours playing on the floor. Play, read, nap, write — just stay off your screen and enjoy your life.

Sleep More.

This is not your typical advice. It’s winter folks. Go to bed early, get some solid sleep and take naps.

Check Your Levels.

If you mood has gone wonky, make sure the cause is not a simple reversible vitamin deficiency. At the top of the list are vitamin D and vitamin B12. Deficiencies of both are rather common and can impact mood. Vitamin D is made from the sun and essential for you health. Surprisingly, clinical trials hoping to prevent seasonal depression with large doses of vitamin D have failed to show any benefit. However, I still check levels on all my patients, and last winter I had a low level myself. Get checked out and replete as advised by your healthcare professional, but be aware that keeping your mood up in the winter takes more than vitamin D.

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Eat More.

I’m not talking a massive carb quest. I am talking about power foods as comfort foods. In short, this means more seafood, dark leafy greens, nuts and root vegetables. Many top superfoods, like berries and tomatoes, are in retrograde right now. Out of season means less fresh, less flavor, fewer nutrients and more cost–that’s enough to tank my mood. Try to eat more plants like squash, kale, small potatoes (small blue and purple yams are my current favs), leeks and apples that are in season.

Get A Group.

Though I mentioned making less plans above, few things boost mood like feeling connected to other people. The power of groups to motivate and elevate us continues to astound me. Enroll in a cooking or meditation course, join a book club or find a sports team. If you need a great resource for groups, check out Meetup.com.

If you’ve noticed a significant change in your mood or people in your life have commented that you seem down, try the tips above and get some assistance now, by talking with your physician or a qualified mental health professional.

How do you keep your mood up during the winter? Let me know @DrewRamseyMD

Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen

 

From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.

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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.

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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
 
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
 
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.

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