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Verified by Psychology Today

5 Foods You Should Be Eating This Fall 

Reduce emotional eating with these suggestions.

Key points

  • New research has shown an increase in emotional eating during the fall and winter months.
  • Certain foods have been shown to improve mental health and decrease emotional eating.
  • Vitamin D-rich foods like mushrooms can help alleviate winter blues, while foods high in magnesium like pumpkin seeds could help with anxiety.
Mara Zemgaliete/istock
Source: Mara Zemgaliete/istock

Fall has arrived! It's that time of year when bathing suits are being tucked away and jeans and sweaters are emerging. For many people, in addition to updating their wardrobe, the change in season leads to a notable increase in emotional eating.

A 2020 study indicated that people who start to feel the blues during the fall, due to shorter days, also often exhibit a significant change in their eating habits. Eleven studies were reviewed. The results indicated that people who feel blue during the fall and winter months consume significantly larger dinners as well as more evening snacks during the weekdays and weekends. They also demonstrate a higher frequency of binge/emotional eating and more cravings for starchy and high-fiber foods.

Just like changing your outfit to coincide with the weather, it may be time to consider aligning what you eat with the season to help prevent mindless eating and emotional eating.

Source: dusk/istock

1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a spice we crave during the fall. The good news is that cinnamon is clinically shown to help regulate your blood sugar. This ultimately can assist in avoiding spikes in your blood sugar, which lead to craving sugary foods. Also, the scent of cinnamon is calming and a sweet reminder of the holiday season that is coming up. Sprinkle cinnamon in your coffee, on yogurt, or sip it in tea.

2. Mushrooms

People who have more emotional eating during the fall also have been shown to have lower Vitamin D levels and higher levels of depression and anxiety. Mushrooms are one of the best sources of vitamin D. Boosting your vitamin D can ultimately help alleviate the winter blues. If you don't like mushrooms, you can load up on other vitamin D-rich foods such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel, red meat, egg yolks, and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.

3. Pickles

There is an interesting connection between your gut and your brain. People who have an increase in “bad bacteria” in their gut also are more likely to have higher levels of depression and anxiety. Ninety-five percent of your serotonin production happens in your gut, not your brain. Studies have shown that one of the best things that you can do is take probiotics to help to increase the level of “good bacteria.” You can also increase "good bacteria" by eating fermented foods such as pickles, yogurt, kombucha, and sauerkraut.

4. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are one of the world's best sources of magnesium. So plan on saving the seeds to roast this year from your jack-o-lantern! Research has shown that people who have low magnesium also experience higher levels of anxiety because magnesium helps to bind to receptors that are calming. Also, magnesium blocks receptors and neurotransmitters that are more energizing. Unfortunately, about 79% of the world is low in magnesium. So if you have anxiety, particularly in the fall, try a magnesium supplement or other foods that are high in magnesium like leafy greens, nuts, or beans.

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a complex carbohydrate. They contain fiber, which breaks down slowly, to help keep your blood sugar stable. Also, sweet potatoes are rich in magnesium, which has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Other root vegetables which are prevalent in fall are foods like onions, potatoes, beets, and carrots.

Try these foods this fall! It's one small step to help improve your mental health and reduce emotional eating.