More than 5 million Canadians* suffer the winter blues, but it only takes about 28 days to change one's blueprint
TORONTO, Jan. 16, 2012 /CNW/ - Avoid feeling blah today, otherwise known as 'Blue Monday,' the most depressing day of the year, by consuming mood boosting brain foods. The Ontario Apple Growers and mood food expert, Patricia Muzzi, hope to inspire happiness by keeping the blues at bay this winter, and beyond, with a simple formula: mood foods = healthy brain = good mood.
Loosely defined, mood foods are foods that are wholesome and natural, and that contain specific vitamins and nutrients that have a direct impact on brain function. When combined with regular exercise, Patricia maintains that most people will experience a noticeable upswing in mood.
"Most people make the connection between food and its affects on their physical body but overlook the profound affect it has on their overall mood. People need to shift their mindset and habits and start eating to feed their brain," says Patricia, personal chef and founder of Mood Food Culinary.
Food for thought: are you feeding your brain?
To determine if you are eating to feed your brain, answer the following five questions with a 'yes' or 'no.'
- Do your eating habits remain fairly consistent throughout the seasons of the year?
- Do you have trouble concentrating or feel sluggish after lunch?
- Do you consume foods/beverages that are high in sugar or caffeine for an instant energy boost?
- Do you wake up tired even after sleeping at least seven straight hours?
- Do you eat until your stomach feels full to ensure you are fuelled for the day?
"If you answered 'yes' to three or more of these questions, you may not be feeding your brain the vital nutrients it needs to keep your mood and energy levels elevated," says Patricia. "Eating foods that help maintain balanced brain chemistry throughout the day reduces the desire for an instant, and temporary, sugar fix and keeps you feeling satisfied, alert and calm."
"The seasonal drop in sunlight affects our brain chemistry which leads to a change in brain functions, such as concentration and mood," says Patricia. "The key to healthy brain chemistry lies in knowing how and what foods impact brain health. Mood foods are important year-round, but especially during the winter months when the potential for depression or 'moodiness' is much higher."
"Ontario apples are a powerful mood food because of the high levels of antioxidants, flavonoids and vitamins that they contain," says Patricia. "Antioxidants and flavonoids protect brain and neuron function thus heightening thinking ability and alertness while complex carbohydrates and B vitamins are critical for balanced serotonin levels which can increase optimism and improve sleep. Even the pure juice of apples has been shown to help reduce problems associated with memory loss. When combined, all of the properties found in apples help to nourish the brain and produce 'happy' chemicals that can help improve one's mood."
Patricia recommends consuming at least one Ontario apple a day, whether fresh out of hand or as part of a balanced meal. Together with the Ontario Apple Growers, she has created four mood enhancing recipes that feature Ontario apples alongside other brain boosting foods: Baked Ontario Apple Frittata Cups, Ontario Apple Mac and Cheese Bake, Quesadillas with Ontario Apple Salsa and Ontario Apples and Almond Butter Whole Wheat Cookies. For these and other recipes, visit www.onapples.com.
"Drastically changing eating habits, or replacing certain foods with healthier alternatives can sometimes be a challenge," admits Patricia. "Especially after the holidays, as many people find themselves coming off an eating frenzy of rich, decadent foods. By eating a certain way for an extended period of time, we end up creating an internal blueprint. Our brain comes to expect certain habits, and when it is deprived of those rituals, it sends out a 'signal' in the form of an emotion, for example moodiness, or craving."
It takes an average of 28 days to change a blueprint, according to Patricia. "It is important to gradually make changes without excessively alarming the brain. Eating good mood foods eases the brain from any stress it undergoes while changing eating patterns. It needs the glucose from complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables to keep it going, and any other nourishing vitamins and minerals will further enhance its performance."
*Between the months of October and April, it is estimated that 2 to 3 out of every 100 Canadians (approximately between 680,000 and one million Canadians) suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), episodes of depression that usually occur during winter. Approximately 15 per cent (more than five million Canadians) have the 'winter blues' experiencing less severe symptoms including low energy, withdrawal and anxiety. These numbers are based on reported cases only, which suggests that the number of Canadians suffering from SAD or the 'winter blues' may in fact be higher. (Canadian Mental Health Association, http://cmhaff.ca/mood-disorders/season-affective-disorder-sad)
Enjoy local apples year round
According to a recent Nielson study, 75 per cent of Canadians would choose to eat local foods over anything else. In the past, as a result of the Canadian climate, consuming fresh, local apples was limited to harvest season, mostly between the months of September and November. However, controlled atmosphere storage (known as CA), carefully controls temperature, humidity, oxygen and carbon dioxide, allowing Canadians to enjoy superior, local apples throughout most of the year.
About Ontario Apple Growers
The Ontario Apple Growers represents 215 commercial apple growers. There are approximately 16,000 acres of apples produced in Ontario. The major apple-producing areas in Ontario are along the shores of Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. For more information, visit www.onapples.com.
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For more information on the Ontario Apple Growers, or to arrange an interview, please contact: