Seasonal Affective Disorder can come on suddenly and can affect anyone. The shorter days and limited access to natural vitamin D play a serious role in increasing this seasonal depression, which can begin as early as fall and peaks sometime in deepest winter. Feeling constantly tired, less social, and a sense of hopelessness are all symptoms, which vary from person to person. If you feel these symptoms arising, or want to prevent them, following the dietary guidelines below can help.
1. Tryptophan: Most commonly associated with turkey and sleepiness, tryptophan can improve sleep, but also reduce anxiety commonly associated with SAD. Tryptophan can also be found in bananas, which contain potassium and carbohydrates that can help boost happiness in the brain.
2. Polyphenols: An antioxidant found in dark chocolate, polyphenols can seriously increase mood. Be cautious though to only choose pure dark chocolate in a 70% cocoa mixture or higher. Also, the less refined sugar, the better, and in general, one square is enough.
3. Vitamin D: Also known as the “Sunshine vitamin,” Vitamin D becomes deficient for many in winter when access to sunshine is limited. However, consuming organic and natural milk, eggs, and wild caught fish can help get the Vitamin D you need. Also consider Vitamin D or fish oil supplements. Simultaneously, fish provides Omega-3
4. Folic Acid: It has been common knowledge to add folic acid into the diet when women are expecting a baby, but folic acid is also great for positive moods. Increase consumption of lentils, oranges, oatmeal, and leafy greens to boost the nutrient naturally. Most multi-vitamins also contain a days’ worth of the supplement.
5. Less Sugar: Reduce the amount of sugar intake, especially with refined sugars. Check the packages of processed foods before consuming to see how much hidden sugar is present. Refrain from adding sweeteners as well. Instead of coffee that needs sweetening, try herbal teas that already are sweet naturally.
6. Anti-Cortisol: The stress hormone cortisol, caused by stress, can stress out brain functions, especially the part of the brain that controls emotional responses. To fight cortisol, increase your berry intake, especially blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. Eat them raw or pop them in a blender with bananas for a happy smoothie.
7. Lean Protein: Staying away from high fat meats, like a marbled steak, means staying away from negatively altering your mood. Lean proteins, however, have just the right amino acids to boots your mood positively as well as boosting energy which helps fight SAD fatigue. One of the best? Wild caught Alaskan salmon, which is not only a lean protein, but is high in Omega-3s.