Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

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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.

Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder SAD

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
Long winter nights are great for coziness. However they can disrupt chemicals in the brain.

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.

Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder
Oranges, pictured here in Spiced Hot Cider, are a great way to ease SAD.
Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder Bananas
Foods that ease seasonal affective disorder – bananas


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.

Leafy Greens

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.

Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder Berries
Foods that ease seasonal affective disorder – berries
Foods that Ease SAD Turmeric
The spice turmeric is an effective way to ease SAD.


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.

Getting vitamin D
Soaking up the sunshine.


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69 thoughts on “Foods That Ease Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)”

  1. 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.

    1. Wonderful that you love mangoes! And that’s amazing about Colorado. Here in Missouri we can have a week or more of overcast days.

  2. 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

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

    1. That’s a good point! I think anywhere the nights are long or the days are overcast for long periods, SAD symptoms could appear.

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. Very informative post! Wish I had this during my time in Alaska. I will share with some of my friends that still reside there.

    1. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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).

  11. 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!!!

  12. 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

    1. Yes pineapple is good too! I crave Cara Cara oranges during the winter. I think because they are so helpful.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

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