"You are what you eat" has become a cliché in most circles, but the sentiment behind it remains true. That is, eating a piece of chocolate every day may not automatically make you fat, but it can affect your physical and mental health. In fact, the effects may be too subtle to recognize until they are full-blown. This is often the case with mental imbalances such as depression. Many sufferers don't know the full influence their diet can have on the severity of depressive episodes. Here are a few tips for those eating with depression in mind.
Physicians and nutritional experts advocate that everyone eat foods with a variety of colors. This of course means green and yellow vegetables, but different colors can also point to the presence of other nutrients. For example, orange and red foods, such as citrus fruits or tomato sauce, usually contain vitamin C, lycopene, and other helpful nutrients that can help balance serotonin levels. Blueberries, blackberries, and elderberries are known to improve mood too, and may also alleviate some physical symptoms of depression such as body aches or fatigue. Finally, despite the reputation of white foods for being high in sugar and fat, some are actually quite beneficial. Milk, white fish such as cod, and certain cheeses can all alleviate depressive symptoms.
For some people, especially those with severe depression, diet and exercise routines may need an extra boost. For that, seek out vitamin supplements. Vitamins B6 and B12 are known to stabilize mood; conversely, those whose intake of these are naturally low are more likely to experience depression. Vitamin D, known as the "sunshine vitamin," is another beneficial supplement. This is particularly true if you live in an area where winters are long or sunlight is rarer than usual. For example, in the United States, people living in Alaska or the northern parts of the Lower 48, such as Minnesota or Michigan, are at higher risk of depression. However, even if you live in a moderate climate, vitamins are still needed if you frequently experience depressive symptoms. Most supplements can be found in chewable forms, such as "gummies," for those who prefer not to rely on pills. Some companies, such as It Works, also deal in vitamin powders that can be stirred into water or juice. One of It Works' most popular items, for example, is the Greens mix. The supplement is drinkable and the equivalent of at least one serving of vegetables and fruit.
Depression often worsens when sufferers turn to food for comfort. This is because sweet or fatty foods naturally activate the brain's pleasure center, so a person with depression may end up overeating unhealthy foods. Despite this, depriving yourself can also lead to increased depressive symptoms. As long as you are eating a generally healthy diet and exercising regularly, there is no need to fear treating yourself now and then, even once or twice a week. This doesn't have to mean eating cakes, cookies, or ice cream, either; it could mean stopping by the coffee shop for a favorite specialty drink or having a cinnamon bun at breakfast. If you naturally have a big sweet tooth, you can also try having a small square of dark chocolate, or chocolate-covered nuts and raisins, once a day. These sweets still contain the antioxidants and nutrients your body needs, and so are relatively guilt-free indulgences.
While some sufferers of depression overeat to feel better, others find it difficult to eat at all. Actually, feeling fat and restricting calories can lead to depression just as much, if not more than, obesity does. If you find yourself restricting calories or having trouble eating, open up to your doctor. He or she will help you work out a nutritional plan and make sure your body has the fuel it needs to help the mind heal.
Depression is a difficult disease to handle. It can affect every part of your life, including diet. Eating right can feel like an insurmountable task when everything else seems to be going wrong. However, with these tips, you can keep your diet on track and alleviate your symptoms.