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Its Monday, a day where the blues can seem all too real. Fear not because there are a lot of things you can do to avoid feeling blue primarily practicing self-care. One aspect of this means really caring about what you put into your body.

Forget fad diets and temporary fixes if you choose deeply nourishing foods instead of depriving yourself of a list of foods you can’t have you will feel fulfilled in every way helping to alleviate the cravings and avoid the pitfalls that come with a poor diet and lifestyle.

What you eat also affects your immunity, your mood, your sleep patterns and of course your weight. So even though it can be tempting to indulge in processed, high carb and sugary foods on dark cold nights it will only lead to dark days because your body needs good nutrition to be happy and every cell counts!

So what do we need to do during colder months? Well we need to eat more cooked and warming foods, include more soups and stews in our diets, use more spices, eat seasonal veggies and fruits, eat a rainbow, have more wholegrains and of course get more rest. I’ll be sharing some recipes over the next couple of weeks so keep an eye out.

There is another major reason though for cravings and overeating, which is outside of our control and that is we have less sunlight in winter. This can cause some people to suffer from SAD or seasonal affective disorder. It is said that up to 20% of people can suffer from seasonal depression or mood change so lets look at ways that we can help ourselves fell better naturally with diet and lifestyle choices.

probiotics, terranova, selfcare, winter, nutrition, BLUE MONDAY, SPIRULINAGET OUTDOORS

Making sure you get some natural light during the day is really important during the winter months. A lot of people leave their houses when it’s dark and return after work when it’s dark. If you are working in an office environment, stores, hospitals etc with artificial lights you might go all day in the winter with no natural light of any kind. For this reason it’s really important that you get outside during your breaks for a short walk. Wrap up warm and take a short walk at lunchtime when the sun (if we have it) is brightest.

probiotics, terranova, selfcare, winter, nutrition, BLUE MONDAY, SPIRULINA, meditation, mindfulness, kids meditationsMEDITATE

Taking as little as 5 minutes to work on your inner world each day can have an enormous difference on your health. Meditation has so many benefits including stress reduction, better mood, better sleep. It boost immunity, helps with craving and personally I find it gives an overall feeling of inner peace. Check out my guided meditations here or if you are a mum join my Minding Mum group for weekly live meditations and don’t forget that kids can join in too!!

PICK THE RIGHT CARBS

Less sun means a drop in your “feel-good” hormone serotonin, which can cause depression and food cravings. To help combat this you can boost your serotonin with healthy complex carbs like wholegrain breads, brown rice, veggies like sweet potato, corn and pumpkin, beans, lentils and peas. Your children will probably be craving carbs too so try and steer them away from the bad carbs like white breads, rice and sugar. These foods have little or no nutrients and they actually wipe your energy levels. They can also contribute to SAD and mood swings and can be a factor in brain fog and your ability to concentrate. Tryptophan also coverts to the neurotransmitter serotonin so increasing foods like eggs, nuts, turkey, banana, seeds and spirulina may improve depression symptoms too.

probiotics, terranova, selfcare, winter, nutrition, BLUE MONDAY, SPIRULINA

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

You can thank the Far East for the sensory delight that spices bring. Spices not only introduce vibrance and colour into your diet but they also boost immunity and circulation during the winter months. Cook with onions, turmeric, cinnamon, chili peppers, cardamom, curry, cayenne pepper, ginger and garlic to add a little warmth to your meals and to help winter proof your body from the inside out.

probiotics, terranova, selfcare, winter, nutrition, BLUE MONDAY, organic turmeric powder, SPIRULINAEAT FOR IMMUNITY

The guys you need on your team here are vitamin C, Zinc and probiotics yes you heard me probiotics. Not all bacteria are bad in fact we have millions of bacteria in our gut that help us to stay healthy by stimulating the immune system and helping with the absorption of essential nutrients. To help these guys grow in numbers and keep your digestive system healthy feed them with foods like kimchi, live yogurt, kefir and kombucha or you can take a supplement too Terranova probiotics are great.

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Another tip to help families boost their immune systems is to eat foods that are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and beta-carotene (vitamin A). So citrus fruits are fab as well as broccoli, sweet potato, spinach and cabbage, green leafy veg and frozen peas.

sweet-potato-1241696_1920I find frozen peas great for kids and they can be added to most meals. These foods are front line defense against colds and infections. Zinc is important too so again your green leafy veg, pumpkin and sesame seeds, lentils, tofu, almonds and wholegrains. Chicken, eggs, fish and dairy products also contain zinc. Zinc is responsible for 100’s of biochemical functions in the body and because of nutrient losses in the soil these days and in food processing deficiency or depletion can be common. Among its many important functions one in particular is that it is part of alcohol dehydrogenase, which helps the liver detoxify alcohols so post christmas this could be useful!

OMEGA 3 AND VITAMIN D

Recent research demonstrates that the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids and Vitamin D can play a role in reducing depression. Studies have found that people who consume fish frequently exhibit fewer depressive qualities than those who didn’t consume fish. Essential fatty acids EFA’s are a crucial part of a healthy diet, because our bodies cannot make them. When the word essential is used in a nutritional context it means that the body cannot synthesize (make) it itself and it must therefore be obtained from the diet.

If you eat oily fish twice a week it will provide a healthy dose of omega 3. However a massive 89% of Irish people are not consuming sufficient oily fish in their diet so there is often a need to take a good quality supplement such as *Eskimo Brain 3.6.9 which combines the unique stable fish oil, *Eskimo-3, high in DHA, with plant oils omega-6 and omega-9 along with Co-Q10 and vitamin D3.

eskimo_brain_caps vit dVitamin D is the sunshine vitamin so no prizes for guessing why we don’t have enough in Ireland. This sunshine vitamin is gaining a lot of attention recently (www.vitamindcouncil.org) and may be the most important “missing vitamin” for your brain and mood. It regulates the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin so as you can see nothing works in isolation in our bodies. It’s a proper team sport internally and for all our systems to function correctly they really need each other, which is why a large and varied diet is important. You can your vitamin D levels checked by your doctor but Irish people have been shown to be quite low especially during the winter months. Low levels have been connected with S.A.D and therefore supplementing can help ease symptoms and improve your mood.

B COMPLEX VITAMINS

B Complex vitamins help your body convert proteins from your diet into the neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, etc.) needed for mood and energy.  B-complex vitamins also support heart health and improve your response to stress and help boost energy levels.  While most B vitamins have some benefits for mental health, in terms of depression, the most important B vitamins include vitamin B6, B9 (folic acid) and B12. Looking to supplement, check out Terranova B Complex.

probiotics, terranova, selfcare, winter, nutrition, BLUE MONDAY, organic turmeric powder, water, hydration, SPIRULINAHYDRATE

Did you know that it is just as easy to get dehydrated in the winter as it is in the summer? Staying hydrated is so important because we lose water all the time even through breathing. Just think of your breath in those frigid temperatures!! Some of the effects of dehydration are a slower metabolism, fatigue, muscle pain and dizziness. By the time you are actually thirsty your body is actually well on its way to being dehydrated. So here are my top tips:

  • Start each day with a glass of warm lemon water or  warm water to get your digestive system moving and rehydrate after a nights sleep
  • Always carry water in your bag, have it on your desk and in the car.
  • Set hydration reminders in your phone 3 times a day. This is just a gentle nudge!
  • During the winter months hug a mug of soothing and calming herbal teas, hot cocoa, warm apple cider and my winter warmer in the recipe section.
  • During exercise sweating releases potassium, sodium and calcium- which are known as electrolytes- these are not found in water so you need to replace these in winter months too; coconut water or ¼ of Himalayan salt in preworkout smoothies or juices is a good idea
  • Eat your water in soups, stews and hydrating fruits and veggies like cucumber, celery and pears

If you have any tips please comment below. I would love to hear from you,

Ali xxx

Any products with a star * beside them means that I am collaborating and working with them. I am the brand ambassador for Eskimo Omegas

Having an attitude of gratitude is a daily habit that has literally changed my life. It’s a key player on my wellness team and got promoted to team captain early in its career. It works hard in the winter because lets face it that when I need it most.

The thing about gratitude is that it’s fun and easy to include in our daily lives. It gives us something tangible to work with that effects real change quite quickly and it works. Psychologist and best-selling author Shawn Achor has made a career out of studying the science of happiness and it just so happens he’s one of my favourite authors too having penned books like ‘Before Happiness’ and ‘The happiness advantage’ that make me smile before I even open their covers.

Having suffered from depression for most of my life I always placed my happiness on external factors like work, money and success but real happiness is an inside job and one that needs to be worked on daily and taken seriously. I never realized that I could choose to be happier as I always thought that you were either a happy or a sad person. I had written myself off and labeled myself until I discovered the world of positive psychology and neuroplasticity (rewiring the brain). The fact that the brain can rewire itself through experiences is a relatively new discovery but a very exciting one. It basically means that you can alter the structure and function of your brain through mental training. Working with many different therapies like CBT cognitive behavioural therapy and including some mindfulness, meditation and gratitude in my day I soon discovered that it’s possible to rewire your brain at any stage in your life. The thing is though just like exercising your muscles during exercise you do have to use it or you will lose it. So you need to be consistent with your happiness habits.

Gratitude, winter wellness, daily habits, feelgood, selfcare

(READ ABOUT GRATITUDE IN MY BOOK – MINDING MUM)

[bctt tweet=”Saying thank you mindlessly and practising gratitude mindfully are two completely different things: the latter will set you free” username=”alicanavan”]

Just think of gratitude as your psychological hot water bottle to get you through winter and its great fun for the family too. The health benefits include better sleep, less illness, better mood, increased empathy, improved self esteem and it has even been shown to have anti-aging benefits too! Every evening I ask my six-year-old son James to go through his day and pick the one thing he is most grateful for. This is my favourite part of the day as not only do I get an insight into his world but it’s also an important habit that encourages him to see the good things that happen each day. When I pick him up from school I always hear the negative stories about who is in trouble or what went wrong but this way I get to hear about the good things that happen too. It can be a fun game at dinner and a great way to start the morning too.


Psychologist and author of ‘Hardwiring Happiness’ Rick Hanson says “the brain is like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones”. I have found that working with my brain and on my happiness has brought contentment and an energy of appreciation into my life in a more natural way. Keeping a gratitude journal has also helped me to keep my life in perspective and see beyond the seemingly bad stuff. So why not give yourself a mindful break and try keeping a gratitude journal this winter.

MY TOP 5 TIPS:

  1. BUY A DEDICATED GRATITUDE JOURNAL– Having a thankful or gratitude journal makes the practice special and it’s a lovely way to read back on the good things in your life on bad days. My mantra: On days you feel blue have a read back through!
  2. GO FOR QUALITY RATHER THAN QUANTITY– Choose 3 things you are grateful for and then expand and write why in a journal. This way you get to create a deep energy of appreciation within
  3. GET UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL– research has shown that focusing on whom you are grateful for rather than what you are grateful for can have a bigger impact
  4. INCREASING AWARENESS – The key to personal growth is awareness and keeping a gratitude journal helps you to learn more about yourself
  5. ENJOY IT – Its for your eyes only so be personal and be true

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