Foods to Fight Winter Depression

5 common foods that fight winter depression

Winter brings cold temperatures and short days. In most places, the trees and gardens are bare, and people aren’t out and about as much as they are the rest of the year. They want to be inside where it’s warm. But the downside is that they receive little Vitamin D from the sun. Because of these factors, winter blues set in for lots of folks this time of year.

It’s no wonder that January is the most depressing month of the year. In some cases, winter blues develop into a more serious form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (aka SAD). This depression usually begins in late fall, peaks in January and tends to fade by early spring.

Symptoms of Winter Depression

Common symptoms of SAD include tiredness that makes you want to stay in bed under the blankets where you sleep your life away. You may have intense calorie dense carbohydrates cravings, especially sweets; and you may experience irritability, mood swings, and the desire to avoid social situations.

The Food Connection

What can you do to fight this type of depression? There are a number of things you can do, but one simple but overlooked area is what you eat. What you put in your mouth has a significant impact on your mental health. Many foods cause inflammation throughout our bodies and can even create chemical imbalances in our brains. So yes, the foods we chose to eat have enormous implications for our mental health.

If this is the case, what can you eat to help battle seasonal depression? Thankfully, there are many foods that fight symptoms of depression. Today, let’s talk about five of these healing foods and see how they work.

Five Foods That Fight Depression


Cacao triggers the “happiness” chemicals in the brain (such as serotonin and dopamine), and this superfood helps with mental clarity.


Bananas are delicious and nutritious and can be used in a number of ways. This fruit contains a hormone, melatonin, which regulates sleep levels that are often out of balance when someone is depressed. Bananas also help the brain to regulate moods due to the amino acids they contain. 


Your gut contains living microorganisms that support healthy digestion. When this area of your body is compromised, gut contents may permeate the gut wall lining and enter the bloodstream where they drive inflammation that can present as symptoms of depression. 

Fermented foods to the rescue! What are fermented foods? These foods have been exposed to beneficial bacteria that feed on starches and sugars in the food. When this process occurs, all kinds of good things happen to the food.  The vitamin content is greatly enhances, the glycemic index is reduced due to a lower sugar content, and the probiotics are of a higher quality than anything you can buy in a bottle.

When you eat these cultured foods, you are rebalancing your gut environment with trillions of good bacteria. These probiotic foods have proven to be extremely effective in treating depression. And you don’t need to eat lots of it to see incredible results. For instance, one tablespoon of sauerkraut is all you need on a daily basis to benefit from these amazing natural probiotics.

Some common fermented foods are yogurt, Kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, sourdough bread, miso, and others.


This category includes non-starchy vegetables such as leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and collard greens, to name a few). These tasty plants act as a fertilizer for the probiotic bacteria in your tummy so they are happy and prolific.

Non-starchy veggies also provide antioxidants and tons of fiber, vitamins, and minerals that your body so desperately needs.


Not only are nuts crunchy and delicious, they also help you to maintain a more stable mood. Nuts (especially cashews and walnuts) help your body to fight anxiety and depression. They are high in healthy fatty acids, making them an ideal choice to help with seasonal depression. 

If seasonal depression becomes too much for you to handle, it may be wise to seek out professional help.  However, when you support your doctor’s treatment plan with a depression-busting diet, it can do wonders for you. Thankfully, seasonal depression is just that – seasonal.  So you can take comfort in the fact that it doesn’t stay around continuously.  By taking care of your body through good nutrition and professional help, if neccesary, you can have just the right formula for treating seasonal depression.

So there you have it – five foods that fight winter depression. What other foods can you add to the list that you found effective?

Short Version:

Many people experience depression during the winter months.
Common symptoms include tiredness, carbohydrate cravings, mood swings and irritability along with a desire to avoid socializing.

Five foods that help with winter depression include cacao, bananas, fermented foods, high fiber-low glycemic carbs, and nuts.

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