There are a few different ways you can help manage the often debilitating effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder, one of which is to change your eating habits to include foods that will help give you energy to help keep you going. So you can choose the right foods, we have created a guide of 10 Diet Tips to help ease the symptoms of SAD.
Foods that contain plenty of protein will give you an energy boost that can help battle feeling tired and fatigued. Lean proteins in particular are also a source of the amino acids which are basically the building blocks of life and can aid in muscle recovery and boosting the metabolism so you may feel better overall. The types of food that are rich in proteins include dairy like cheese, milk and eggs; nuts, seeds, pulses and beans; soy products, white poultry and seafood.
Limit simple carbs and sugar
The amount of simple carbs you eat which is found in white rice and white breads along with sugary foods and drinks will cause your blood sugar levels to rise which will give you a temporary boost, but as your body floods you with insulin you will quickly drop down to low levels of energy again. Instead at the least moderate your intake, but aim for natural sugars and foods containing complex carbohydrates instead.
Reduce your caffeine intake
Most people enjoy a cup of coffee every now and then and it is fine to do so for the majority of people, but it does suppress Serotonin which if you suffer from SAD, the lack of which is one of the main causes. So limit drinking coffee until after a meal and certainly avoid drinks that contain high levels of caffeine such as energy drinks.
Keeping up your intake of fruit and veg during the day is important regardless of whether or not you have SAD but easting certain types of berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blueberries can give an extra bit of assistance in helping combat the effects of stress on the brain. Cortisol, produced by the adrenal gland is released and effects the hippocampus (the region that helps with navigation, memory and emotional response) when you become stressed, which in turn can increase feelings of depression and exhaustion. Studies show that eating these types of berries can inhibit the release of cortisol to leave you feeling better, plus they are an extra hit of energy and nutrients.
Any Vitamins should be part of your daily food intake but B12 and D are two in particular that will help fight the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder. Vitamin D is predominantly made by your body when natural sunlight hits you skin and uses cholesterol to do so which can help you feel more energised, plus the sun will help boost the product of Serotonin as well. You can supplement with egg yolks, milk, certain fruits and fish. Low levels of Vitamin B12 in the blood has been linked to depression, though the exact cause is still unknown. Until they figure out the reason you can top up by eating fish, shell fish, fortified cereals, eggs, yoghurt, milk and more.
Natural sources of Tryptophan
A small variety of foods contain sources of tryptophan which is one of the chemicals besides Melatonin that helps to calm and relax the brain. Bananas are one source, plus also have the advantage of containing complex carbs, potassium, natural sugars and magnesium which combined fuel the brain, but the latter is also known to help you sleep better and having a calming effect over anxiety. If you eat meat Turkey is a great white poultry that contains both tryptophan and melatonin which can help to keep you calm and feel rested before you decide to get some sleep.
Switch to dark chocolate
The majority of us have had a chocolate craving at one time or another but with making the switch to dark chocolate you can help alleviate some symptoms of SAD. Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are known to basically make you feel happier and relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, plus if you choose 70%+ cocoa solids it is much lower in sugar as well.
Foods rich in Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to be connected to helping in alleviating depression, though the studies are far from conclusive, what they are able to do however is to help regulate your metabolism so hopefully you will notice less of a struggle to ‘get going’ in the morning. Flax seeds and spinach are rich in Omega-3 and have other health benefits as well, especially with spinach being rich in iron, potassium and magnesium.
Time your meals
Finding the right balance of when to eat and in what quantities in this day and age can be tricky, especially if you work long hours and spend a significant portion of time commuting. ‘Little and often’ is often recommended, but it is best to work out what works best for you personally. Try eating the right type of foods for your meals as listed above so you have enough to keep you going and feeling better and adjust things accordingly.
There are a few healthy foodstuffs that you can keep in case you get caught short and due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, can’t make it to the shops for groceries. Nuts, seeds and peanut butter; pre-washed veg, fruit and plain popcorn; porridge, whole grain breads and crackers, plus cottage cheese are all great to have at hand, especially if you need a quick light snack that’s healthy.
We hope these ’10 Ways your Diet can ease SAD’ tips give you some ideas on how to change what you eat to help fight the symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder. It is also worth noting that you should consult your GP or a Nutritionist before making any major changes to your diet in case you need any special requirements.