SAD AND NUTRITION DATA
Whilst changes in appetite and cravings for carbohydrates are recognised symptoms of SAD, there are limited data regarding the impact of nutritional intervention or dietary habits in relation to the condition.
A systematic review published by Yang et al in 2020 reviewed the evidence around the role of diet, eating behaviours and nutritional intervention in SAD. (13) The review included 11 studies: five efficacy studies in relation to nutritional intervention for SAD and six studies that focused on dietary patterns and eating behaviours in SAD patients.
With regard to eating patterns or behaviour, a higher prevalence of SAD was associated with alcoholism and vegetarianism. However, normal alcohol intake was not linked with the severity of SAD. Higher intakes of food during the evening (larger evening meals and more snacks) were more common in SAD patients when compared with non-SAD patients. A greater frequency of binge eating and emotional eating was also exhibited by SAD patients when compared with control patients.
Considering the common SAD symptom of carbohydrate craving, the review found that SAD patients exhibited more cravings for starch-rich or high-fibre foods. (3) RCTs were included in the review by Yang et al which included data on the efficacy of carbohydrate-rich diets in improving SAD symptoms. No clear benefits were shown regarding this intervention.
In addition, the review did not find any benefits for SAD patients in relation to the studies regarding nutritional intervention. Two RCTs were included in the review which evaluated the efficacy of vitamin D or B12 supplementation as potential treatment of SAD. Neither study showed any beneficial effects.