The deeper winter months, ever since college, have really affected me. The lack of sunlight caused me to encounter a relationship with S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder), which I have learned I am much better treating with my food than with supplements. Actually, most people will absorb their vitamins much better with the food they take in! Not being one for eating a few large meals a day, I prefer to snack throughout the day.
Snacking is often misconstrued as the incorrect way to eat throughout the day. This is because often snacks that are chosen are not the best choices or not beneficial for your daily nutrition. Measuring the appropriate amount of snack is not always as much as a priority as it should be, causing you to have a greater chance of overeating.
However, snacking can be beneficial if done the correct way. One of those ways is making sure that your snacks provide a daily dose of calcium and Vitamin D.
While calcium gives your bones the kick of calcium they need everyday, Vitamin D is vital for preserving your bones from conditions like osteoporosis, which is the deterioration of bone over time from a lack of calcium making the bones dry, brittle and prone to breaks.
Calcium can come from a number of sources including dairy products such as milk, cheese and eggs while Vitamin D’s main source is sun exposure.
An important reason to make sure you are getting enough Vitamin D throughout the year to avoid Seasonal Affective Disorder. Also known as the “Winter Blues”, SAD is a disorder that has gain a lot of attention over the last few years by causing depressive moods in other-wise mentally healthy people.
SAD is typically triggered during the winter months when strong sun rays are rarer and dark, gloomy cloud cover is more common. SAD’s negative effects are fatigue and major depression widely ranging in severity depending on the person. During my first year of my college dance program, after being indoors and dancing for upwards of six hours a day, exhaustion set in and I found myself with a mild case of SAD. My therapist suggested an indoor UV lamp, and admittedly, it worked wonders!
Focusing on alternate ways to gain your daily intake of Vitamin D would be extremely beneficial to helping the effects or prevention of SAD. One of those ways is finding Vitamin D rich foods you can add to your snacks and meals.
When it comes to snacking, less is more. As long as you are choosing smart, nutritious, vitamin-packed snacks. Snacks that are higher in nutrients like fiber, good fats and protein pack more of a punch by boosting your energy, making you feel full longer and not spiking your blood sugar for a energy crash later in the day.
If you’re looking for a nutritious, Vitamin D rich snack, try one of these:
1. Get Drinking Your (Organic) Milk
Milk and dairy products are double threats, giving you both the calcium you need as well as Vitamin D. Fortified dairy products also give you a healthy dose of Vitamin A.
2. Don’t Leave Out the Salmon
Salmon overall is very healthy for you. In addition to providing the healthy omega-3’s that strengthen your immune system and heart, they are also naturally Vitamin D rich. An easy way to prepare salmon is to mimic tuna salad: Mix 1/4 cup salmon and 2 Tablespoons of mayonnaise. Use to top a multigrain or whole grain crackers.
3. Cereal Is Always a Good Go-To
Fortified cereal is a good option for Vitamin D, however to avoid sugar-shock, avoid overly sugary cereals and focus on ones with whole grain, fiber and other nutrients – and if you are going wheat free, there are plenty more options out there these days than even just a few years ago!
4. Whip, Boil or Fry Yourself Up Some (Organic!) Eggs
Eggs are an excellent option for a small snack packed with Vitamin D. Make up a small omelet or scramble up a side is a good choice, but to avoid any extra calories the best bet is a hard boiled egg.
Because Vitamin D is found so rarely in foods, there are lots of snacks that have been Vitamin D fortified to give you that extra boost. Reading the nutritional labels will help out identifying these items, however, many times there is an marketing bubble on the front of the box identifying they are “Vitamin D fortified”.
As a nutritional supplement, Cod Liver Oil is very high in both Vitamin A and Vitamin D.
Despite being more popular for their Vitamin C content, there is something about eating oranges that just lifts my spirits. In fact, that goes for zesty fruit in general! Shades of orange and yellow are meant to be uplifting.
There was a healer that I went to see once, and one of her prescriptions was to let me know that when I was feeling down, I should wear orange socks. To this day, when I am feeling low, I pull out my favorite colorful socks!