Creamy mushroom soup…this comforting combination speaks right to my winter soul. As the temperatures drop, we have a biological excuse for carb-dense cravings. Yet, we’re currently experiencing a rise in the popularity of carb-restricted, keto-ish diets. While I recognize the appeal of eliminating carbs, I think winter might disagree. We need nourishing, fiber-filled carbs to support our moods and energy when the cold, dreary weather would rather nudge us to Netflix out.
The Happy Hormone
One of the reasons we experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is due to a drop in levels of the hormone, serotonin. Serotonin levels often fall with the temperatures and light. This happy hormone is responsible for good moods, sound sleep, and appetite regulation. With lower levels of serotonin, our body naturally finds itself craving more carbohydrates. For individuals fearing weight gain, carbs might be the first food they think about cutting out. However, restriction ultimately leads to more intense cravings and possibly unhealthy eating patterns surrounding that food.
Focus on Carb-Quality, Not Carb-Restriction
Instead of elimination, how about we focus on fortification? We can fortify our diets with high-quality carbs like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and dairy in lieu of leftover Halloween candy and holiday cookies. It also helps to time our carbs right. Eating high quality carbs paired with a protein or healthy fat can offset an energy slump at 3 pm. In addition, this satisfying snack might keep us from overeating at dinner. Carbohydrates help boost serotonin in the brain making us feel happy, calm and energized.
Enjoy Comfort Foods with a Health Kick
Who says comfort foods can’t have a health kick? For example, this creamy bowl of mushroom soup offers an umami, savory flavor while supporting a healthy weight. Studies have shown that increasing our intake of low-energy dense foods, such as mushrooms, in place of high-energy dense foods (think loaded potato soup), can be an effective way to reduce overall calories while still feeling full and emotionally satisfied after a meal.
Pair this soup with whole-wheat toast, cheese and a side salad for a complete winter meal experience. Cheers to a good mood with good food.Print