DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, therapist, or anything of the sort. For all medical, fitness or therapeutic information/advice/plan, seek professional help.
When it comes to food, we live in a very convenient society! Of course, the things that come to mind first are the obvious: fast food restaurants and microwave dinners. But if you think of it, the delicious dinners that Costco cooks for us (and I love Costco!!), the neighborhood pizzeria, box of crackers, “fruit” snacks, chips, macaroni and cheese and other pastas, soda fountains and the cute little donuts at the gas station all offer our taste buds a bit of delight for a few moments but are highly processed, are loaded with sugars, sodium and fat, and (obviously) offer a poor diet that can lead to OR exasperate what many of us suffer from: depression.
Research and articles from the Mayo Clinic, Psychology Today, Prevention magazine, WebMD and other sources state time and again that what we eat has a DIRECT IMPACT on our well-being. Then why do we feed ourselves these platefuls of unhappiness, discouragement and not to mention, more weight? I’m guilty too! It’s hard. Processed food is convenient. Oh yeah, I know all the excuses in the book! But from poor eating comes nutritionally imbalanced people! … (Depression loves nutritionally imbalanced people. Ugh!)
In my own personal research, through learning from professional sources, through therapy and journaling, I have found that this convenient food that I am eating is really tearing me down while filling me up. I guess, in essence, I am digging my own grave, physically and psychologically, with the very spoon I eat.
WHAT IS IT THAT WE NEED?
To start with, NUTRIENTS. (The foods we consume that are “fortified with nutrients and vitamins” really start off pretty bad so adding a little good doesn’t erase the bad. Heh.) We can, HOWEVER, eat our nutrients a better way! THINK HIGH NUTRIENTS! Oh, this list may seem so cut and dry. It kind of is. Don’t get me wrong, I get it! Especially when you are down it is hard (and sometimes even a task that feels impossible) to think passed the cloud and muck you are consumed in, but we gotta figure a way to EAT THEM!
1. Increase your fruits and vegetables.
Add fruit (fresh or frozen) to your morning oatmeal. Some carrots or cucumbers for lunch. A salad with your dinner. Baby steps is okay! GET THEM DOWN and pat yourself on the back. Tomorrow, do it again. When you can, add an extra fruit/vegetable to your plate. Rejoice every time!
2. Eat your essential antioxidants.
Blueberries, apricots, broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, spinach, grapefruit, nuts, seeds, kiwi, oranges, peaches, peppers, tomatoes, carrots, wheat germ (sprinkle that on your oatmeal), etc.
These will reduce the free radical damage in the brain. Yeah, we need that!
3. Reduce the amount of carbs.
The carbs you eat need to be COMPLEX: whole grains, fruits, vegs, legumes …
Did you know that there is a connection between carbs and mood? They are linked to the levels of serotonin in the brain! That is why when we are depressed, we eat more carbs, more breads, more cookies – we are feeding the mood. Which means to turn around the mood, we must be careful on the amount and types of carbs we consume – so we don’t feed the mood.
4. Limit sugary foods.
The sugars in cereals, breads, cookies, cakes, candy, etc, decrease the serotonin in our brains! .. If you don’t know, that’s the happy stuff. Eeek. That means, sugar lessens our happy brain power. That’s bad.
5. Eat protein-rich foods several times a day.
Fish, poultry, beans and peas, low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt.
Eating protein-rich foods boosts the dopamine in the brain. Those who experience depression often feel the desire to sleep more or to be alone, maybe even in a dark room. Your dopamine levels are probably low! … Add protein-rich foods to help up your alertness, energy level and mood!
6. Get plenty of Vitamin D, Vitamin D, Vitamin D!
Vitamin supplements, light therapy, the sun. Those who are affected by depression are likely to be deficient or very deficient in Vitamin D. Talk with your doctor to find how much Vitamin D you need.
7. Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
Salmon, Tuna, Flaxseed (you can buy it pre-ground and add to your oatmeal or over your salad), nuts, avocados, dark-leafy greens. Oh boy, that sounds like a great salad!
1. Caffeine, alcohol, high-calorie/low-nutrient (processed, high-sugar foods), vegetable shortening/margarines (including the kind they cook our potato chips in), artificial sweeteners… Consuming these products deplete the good and increase the bad. No bueno!
FOOD can be hard to master … especially for those who are imbalanced to start with! Wherever you are in your journey of life, take my advice and follow the above. Start with baby steps if you have to! Just start. The more healthy you eat, the better off you will be!
Although starting can be difficult, I KNOW from personal experience, that eating healthy and nutritious foods, as well as limiting food that should be limited, and avoiding the other stuff does, in fact, HELP with depression. Nutritious food is part of my “medication” regimen. It’s a must …. EVERY DAY!