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Kick the winter blues to the curb


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Stews and soups made with grass fed animals are "comfort foods" that you can have in lieu of high carb foods.

If you are like most people in the northwest you are ready to hop a plane to the tropics and catch some rays. The doom and gloom of no sun, and rain for days at a time can bring on more fatigue, feelings of depression and lack of motivation. The short days and rainy weather can start to take its toll on us, but we can combat it.

A few easy ways to kick the winter blues are:

• Vitamin D. Also known as liquid sun. We get ample vitamin D in the summer when the rays hit our skin and we are outdoors more. If you aren't getting outside much in the winter you need to be taking your vitamin D supplement daily. This is one of the simplest supplements to take as it comes in drops or capsule form. Most people need to supplement around 600IU-2000IU a day, but to know for sure have your levels tested by a simple blood draw next time you're at the doctor.

• Monitor your cravings. Low serotonin levels can trigger your body to crave foods higher in sugar and carbohydrates. If you give into these craving you'll wind up gaining unwanted weight and feeling worse than when you started.

• Eat for winter. In lieu of those high carb and sugar cravings eat your "comfort foods" that are abundant this time of year. Stick with stews and soups made with grass fed animals or go animal free and use seasonal greens and root vegetables like sweet potatoes or squash.

• Get outside. The more you can get outdoors this time of year the better. If you can't make it to the mountain to ski, snowboard or sled, try getting outdoors for a brisk walk or hike. Make it fun for the whole family and do a scavenger hunt or take photos of the winter scenery.

• Go find the sun. If all else fails, go on a vacation. This isn't always a doable solution, but if you have the time and funds book yourself a trip to the beach and soak up that sun.

Perhaps you have tried some of these solutions but the gloomy weather has been making you feel more gloomy than usual. It may be more than just a little battle of the blues; you could be suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. Many who suffer report feelings of depression, lethargy and irritability. Most people experience the change in mood as the seasons change, and seem to peak in January and February although it can happen in summer as well. If you feel you are part of the 6% of people that suffer from SAD you do have more options. And, of course, consult with your physician if you feel you have SAD or depression.

A common treatment for SAD which has been said to be up to 85% effective is Light Therapy. Light therapy is just as it sounds. Using a special light box to mimic the natural light of the outdoors can decrease the levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.

If all else fails, let's just hope Punxsutawney Phil does not see his shadow this Groundhog Day and Spring comes soon.

Emily Countryman is a board certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness in Marysville. She can be reached online at


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