During the winter, our body runs low in hormones such as serotonin (the stress buster and happiness booster) due to shorter daylight hours and dopamine (the motivation hormone) due to decreased physical activity. There is also an increase in cortisol (the stress hormone) due to increased environmental threats. As result, some of us feel lethargic, less motivated, low in vitality, and tired, especially during the last days of winter, or early spring.
Lack of vitality could be due to lack of vitamin reserve in the body. For example, the primary energy boosters such as vitamins D and C are dependent on the availability of sunlight and fresh fruits and vegetables. We have less of both in winter.
Symptoms of spring fatigue include loss of appetite, constant tiredness, difficulty in attention and concentration, unrefreshing sleep and sleepiness, headaches, impaired judgment, altered sensory perception, slow reflexes and responses to stimuli, lack of motivation, poor immune function, and negative effects on memory, critical thought, reaction time, mood, anxiety, energy level, digestion, and blood pressure.
The key strategy to combat spring fatigue is to minimize stress and boost internal energy levels. This way, you can maintain your body’s energy balance, emotional stability, and sleep pattern.
How the Mediterranean diet can help you to feel better in Spring
If you are experiencing spring fatigue, a lack of the necessary nutrients will only make things worse. On the other hand, a balanced diet, full of wholemeal cereals, fruits and vegetables, nuts and pulses will contribute to give to your body the necessary nourishment to boost your energy during the early spring days.
According to the Spanish Society of Dietetics and Diet Sciences (Sociedad Española de Dietética y Ciencias de la Alimentación, or SEDCA), those are the foods that will help you to feel better against the spring fatigue.
- Wholemeal: they contain fibre to avoid constipation, that can make you feel tired and uncomfortable. They also have more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than their white and refined version.
- Vegetables: celery, radish and turnip are great detox foods and also antioxidants. You can also go for artichokes, spinach, green asparagus or white asparagus.
- Fruits: strawberries are high in vitamin C and antioxidants, as well as peaches and apricots, that are rich in fibre, potassium, vitamin C and carotenoids.
- Nuts: in small doses of about 30g, nuts can contribute to balance your diet. They are high in omega3, that helps to improve your immune system against tiredness and fatigue.
- Pulses: they are rich in fibre and minerals as potassium, magnesium and zinc. Pulses are also particularly abundant in B vitamins; including folate, thiamin and niacin, and also help to improve the immune system
Avoiding copious meals, keeping yourself hydrated and exercising regularly will also make you feel better. You should also avoid drinks with caffeine as tea, coffee or mate, and choose caffeine-free herbal teas or fruit juices.
Some delicious ideas to bring healthy spring foods into your diet
- Gazpacho: it is a cold tomato soup packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. In Spain is considered a summer meal, because is when tomatoes are in season, but nowadays you can find fresh gazpacho all around the year and the taste is as good as the homemade one.
- Chickpeas and spinach salad. As easy as it sounds: mix chickpeas and cooked or raw spinach, and dress with balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Optionally you can also add some finely chopped onion, red pepper and even some smoked beacon. You can have it warm or cold, and if you make it with Spanish chickpeas you will find that they are tender and creamy, but keep perfectly their shape. If you are not a chickpea person, you can also make this salad with white kidney beans.
- Honey-lemon lemonade. Mix the juice of 8 lemons and 8 honey tbs on a litre of water for a hydrating natural refreshment that will boost your energy with all the nutrients of honey.