Mood-boosting foods to beat the winter blues

Sussex-based broadcaster and health and wellbeing expert Monica Price talks to the Times about how you can keep healthy and happy in the darkest months of the year…


It’s that time of year when we have less daylight and cold temperatures and all you feel like doing is spending days inside with a good book on the sofa. Many of us suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to some degree, which can affect your mood, reduce your energy levels, increase anxiety, alter your sleep pattern and give you a lack of interest in your normal everyday activities.

So let’s try and beat these winter blues with a positive attitude and a healthy diet through the winter to lift our spirits.

Vitamin D, often referred to as ‘the daylight vitamin’ is a vitamin that our bodies make naturally from being outside with direct sunlight on our skin.

It plays a huge role in the winter months and there have been many studies looking at how a lack of vitamin D can affect your mood.

It also helps to regulate the amount of phosphate and calcium in our body, which we need to keep our bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Being outside for at least 10 to 15 minutes a day can help, but try adding these foods that are high in vitamin D to your daily diet:

  • Oily fish – fresh tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring
  • Red meat and liver
  • Mushrooms (shiitake mushrooms are best)
  • Egg yolks


There are also foods that have been fortified with vitamin D – breakfast cereals, some plant milks, yoghurts and fat spreads. The latest Government advice is that you should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter months, but seek professional advice if you are unsure.

The winter months can really affect your sleep pattern, so having more vital minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron in your diet can improve your production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for sleep regulation.

Melatonin is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and then released into the bloodstream. Darkness will prompt the gland to start producing melatonin, while light stops its production.

Because of this melatonin helps regulate and synchronise your sleep-wake cycle to give you a consistent goodnights rest. Try these five foods packed with these minerals:

  • Figs
  • Cherries
  • Nuts – a small handful of pistachios or almonds is good
  • Prunes
  • Bananas


Looking after your wellbeing is so important during the winter months, so make a ‘Positive Day’ list. Write down a list of what you are going to do that will make you smile and feel good about yourself.

This could be the simplest of things – walking the dog, going out for a coffee with friends, taking a dance class, going to the gym, taking an art class or booking a short break away – the list is endless – but whatever you do remember a positive mindset will bring positive things.

Monica Price is a qualified nutritional therapist, writer and broadcaster. She is a go-to expert for health and wellbeing on national TV and radio stations across the UK. For more details, visit:

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