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As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, some people find that their moods darken as well. It’s not uncommon, during fall and winter, to feel sluggish, however those winter blues can become a depression that lasts for months.
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a form of depression that begins in fall and peaks mid winter. By spring, when longer days bring more sunshine, the symptoms ease.
Up to 20% of the population experience varying degrees of SAD. However, help is available…in the kitchen. Check out the following foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, naturally.
What Causes SAD?
Doctors believe that the long dark nights of winter disrupt brain chemicals, such as melatonin and serotonin, that affect mood. Days and days of overcast skies that limit sunlight contribute as well to feeling glum. So there appears to be a connection between lack of sunlight and seasonal affective disorder. Some experts also believe reduced sunlight lowers vitamin D levels in the body, which in turn can cause depression.
Symptoms of seasonal affective disorder include weariness, anxiety, depression, craving carbohydrates, irritability, weight gain and avoidance of social situations.
Ten minutes of sunlight a day helps to ease SAD, by boosting vitamin D in the body. To improve symptoms even more, and for those days and days of gray skies, try adding the following foods to your diet.
Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder
Include these foods during fall and winter to combat SAD.
Mangoes support emotional health, uplift mood, alleviate depression and ease seasonal affective disorder. They also promote a good night’s sleep. Eat mangoes on their own, or add to smoothies and fruit salads.
Atlantic Sea Vegetables
These gifts from the sea remove heavy metals from the body. They are rich with nutrients that balance the body, ease stress and ground the emotions. Add dried Atlantic sea vegetables to salads and soups or blend them up in smoothies.
Oranges and Tangerines
Oranges and tangerines are called liquid sunshine! High in vitamin C, oranges and tangerines brighten mood when we are feeling sun deprived. Enjoy freshly prepared orange juice or add the citrus fruit to salads and hot ciders. Strive to eat a couple of oranges or tangerines a day, to receive all the goodness that they offer.
Bananas contain tryptophan, which calms the body. Their natural sugars and high potassium levels fuel the brain, while magnesium improves sleep and reduces anxiety. Add bananas to fruit smoothies, healthy breads and muffins, or eat them as a snack. For a special treat, blend frozen bananas into nice dream and top with berries.
Dark leafy greens, high in folic acid, boost mood by creating serotonin. During the cold winter months, enjoy a big salad daily for lunch, with leafy greens as the foundation. Or add greens to smoothies and juices.
Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries are all powerful anti-inflammatories that help to prevent the release of the stress hormone, cortisol. Lowering stress eases the symptoms of SAD. Berries are wonderful added to smoothies, salads and herbal teas or piled on top of gluten free oatmeal.
This powerful anti-inflammatory increases blood circulation and boosts the brain and mood. Use turmeric in curry recipes or add a spoonful to warm coconut milk, to create a soothing nighttime drink. Or take a daily supplement in capsule form.
Walnuts and Flaxseeds
High in Omega-3s, walnuts and flaxseeds provide essential nutrients that help to boost mood and lessen depression. Add flaxseeds to smoothies or baking recipes. Eat a small amount of walnuts daily or add to gluten free banana bread and salads.
Avoid This Food
In the list of foods that ease seasonal affective disorder, there is one food to avoid. Refined sugar negatively impacts the brain and slows it down. Limit sugar during the winter months, or avoid it entirely. Your body and your mood will benefit.
Frequently including the foods listed above, and ten minutes of sun bathing on bright sunny days, can greatly reduce or eliminate seasonal affective disorder. I know. I’m one who feels a bit blue when the sun disappears for days behind a mass of gray clouds. To feel my best, and avoid going into hibernation mode, I need sunlight and these natural mood boosters.
Are you SAD during winter? Talk to me about it, in the comments below.
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69 thoughts on “Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”
I have SAD and this is really helpful information, thanks!
I hope it helps! I experience SAD too.
I love fresh fruits especially mangos. I was happy when I read that mangos can help prevent SAD. I live in Colorado where we have 300+ days of sunshine per year. I don’t think I could live in regions where it was gloomy and cloudy more often.
Wonderful that you love mangoes! And that’s amazing about Colorado. Here in Missouri we can have a week or more of overcast days.
I suffer from S.A.D. so bad every year. I never thought to alter my diet for it, this will be a great help!
I’ve learned that what we eat has such a great impact on health!
Such a great resource for those with SAD. I don’t have much experience with this, but glad to know that there are such great tips for those who suffer
Eating the right foods is such a simple way to help!
This is really interesting! I had no idea certain foods could help out with SAD. I’ll definitely refer to your list this winter.
It’s amazing how much healing food provides!
Very interesting read! Is amazing the benefit these healthy foods can provide! Will be sure to up my berry and banana intake! May even consider adding tumeric!
Wow I had no idea foods could help with SAD. This is super helpful information!
Thanks for stopping by!
The spiced hot cider looks delicious – great way to get some oranges in! Great tips.
It’s such a great drink!
I personally don’t suffer from SAD but I know so many people who do. I think we can all benefit from reducing (or eliminating) refined sugar intake.
I agree! My acid reflux stopped when I quit the sugar!
This is the first time I heard about SAD because I’m living in a tropical country. I wonder if it will affect people who travel oversea during wintertime.
That’s a good point! I think anywhere the nights are long or the days are overcast for long periods, SAD symptoms could appear.
Thanks for this list of foods to help SAD. I get SAD every year by the end of January. I have the hardest time cutting back on sugar since it’s such a comfort food in the winter when you’re feeling down, but now I know what foods to keep in the house.
Yes they really do help!
I know that I deal with S.A.D. a lot – but I never really thought about changing my diet to deal with it. Very interesting.
It’s amazing how food really is so healing!
This was a great read about SAD! I eat bananas daily. I need to add more berries and greens to my diet.
Wonderful! I’m trying to add as many of the foods to my daily diet as possible.
This is a great post! This is worth sharing and would definitely help a lot of people going through SAD.
Including those foods during the winter helps me for sure!
Wonderfully informative post! I don’t suffer from SADS but realize that many people do. You can’t go wrong eating all of those yummy foods you mentioned whether you suffer from SADS or not 🙂
So true! 😃
I’m Alaskan and this is a problem for several family members. I’ll be sure to share this info with them. Thanks!
Thanks for sharing! I wondered if people living in Alaska dealt with SAD.
Thanks for this great list! I will save it for reference!
I totally understand this. Thanks for the helpful tips. I deal with SAD every year.
Me too! And I’d rather deal with it naturally if I can
smart article headed into the darkest part of the year. we learned about this a few years ago as my husband is affected by SAD. Great tips.
I’m affected by it too so I’ve researched it! I like natural ways to heal.
Very informative post! Wish I had this during my time in Alaska. I will share with some of my friends that still reside there.
Thanks so much for sharing!
These are great things to try to help with SAD during the winter months. Worth a try!
Exactly! I’ve found these foods to be very helpful.
I’m glad you’re shining light on this disorder. I don’t think enough people know about it. Thank you for the great tips.
True! We’ve believed it’s just part of winter. I e found that these foods really do help. That and a few minutes of sunlight.
These are great tips for people with allergies! Thanks!
Thanks for stopping by!
I do not suffer from SAD, but I still, find this article interesting. I do eat a lot of this food so I wonder if that has anything to do with the fact that I do not.
That could be true!
I love that there is lots of fruit on this list! I love eating fruit and now I know it’s helping a few things!
Yes fruit is excellent!
I do not suffer from these but those foods are really good in any balanced diet which might play a role in sads (I don’t know).
I have inherited depression which I have to medicate (it’s bad if I don’t) and SAD kicks in every year… it’s very prevalent here in Seattle where it is sunless day after day after day. I already have Vitamin D and Tumeric supplements, which I believe helps SO much. I also have light therapy which helps a lot. Plus, needing to sit with the light every day makes me slow down and read or quilt in the middle of a busy day!!!
Light therapy is good too!
Great idea to use food with its nutrients and vitamins to combat SAD! Nature’s medicine!
I love natures medicines!
I have this in the summer..due to my ms I am stuck inside the heat makes me really sick..I am going to try this and see if it helps! Thank you!
Good idea! I hope it helps.
This is such a helpful post! I also heard that pineapples make you happy. Pineapples and oranges. Yum! Thank you for this information it is a great reminder to take care of your nutrition to keep your energy levels high <3
Yes pineapple is good too! I crave Cara Cara oranges during the winter. I think because they are so helpful.
I definitely get this. We live in WI. I am going to try these tips this year. Last year I bought a special light that is supposed to increase vitamin D and help with this. I believe it does help when I remember to use it.
Great idea, using the light. I try to get outside every day that the sun shines!
This is a great list, thank. you!
Thanks for stopping by!
I can honestly say that I learned something new here! Thanks for sharing!
Love this list and plan on stocking up on these items with each grocery trip. I’m definitely trying to cut out the refined sugar, but I can’t go cold turkey. Don’t even think I can go completely, but I’m going to make an effort.
I have definitely suffered from SAD myself but it has drastically improved by eating so many of the foods you’ve mentioned and by engaging in more winter activities. Snowboarding has helped make me appreciate winter so much more. Such a great list!