I was so relieved to get the diagnosis. Clinical Depression. The problem that had haunted me for over 20 years finally had a name. Now that the doctor had given me a diagnosis, I was hopeful that he could give me a pill to fix it. How wrong I was.
The roller coaster ride of finding an antidepressant that worked was long and difficult. It took 6 weeks to build the medication up in my system, followed by 2 weeks of trial. When there was no effect I had to spend 4 weeks getting it out of my system. Each trial that did not work left me exhausted and discouraged. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
On a drive home from work one day, I heard an author talking about a book called Potatoes Not Prozac. The premise of the book is that food could be used to treat depression and other disorders for those with sugar sensitivity. Food? Are you kidding? Because I was having poor results with medication, I bought the book.
Sugar Was My Enemy
Sugar was my enemy but I didn’t know it. I craved sugar and thought I had no problem with it because all the doughnuts and candy bars I consumed did not cause me to gain weight*. The damage, however, was very real. My body did not work right. I had been constipated my whole life (sorry I had to bring that up) and I was literally holding emotional and physical crap in. I rarely ate fruits or vegetables. I had no idea that my poor diet was having a negative effect on my mental health.
*Weight management is not, in my opinion, a good goal. Pursing health is. There will be a future blog about this!
During my quest for an answer, a well meaning psychiatrist suggested to me in his evaluation that I get some friends to help me cope with my feelings of hopelessness and begin to exercise which would get those endorphins going and help me feel less tired. Although these seemed like good suggestions, it was impossible for me to do these things because of the effect food was having on my body. I was so worn out because I didn’t have enough fuel (food). Because of this, I saw myself and the world as a bleak and dreary place. I could no more develop friendships than I could perform brain surgery.
Nutrition is the base to build your mental and physical wellness on. It is critical for those with depression to figure out how their diet is contributing to the illness. The foods you eat and the beverages you drink have an impact on your mood. My depression began to lift when I started to get my nutrition in order.
Body Mind Connection
The brain where our decisions are made is not disconnected from the rest of our bodies. How your liver and bowels are functioning will impact your brain activity and the lens through which you see life. It is SO important that we understand and believe the connection with our brain (decision making) and our body (nutrition). You simply cannot ignore the nutrition you give your body and expect your brain to work properly. (Here is an article on 10 nutritional deficiencies that may cause depression).
One of the suggestions in Potatoes Not Prozac was to keep a food journal. You will be surprised at what you will find out in the process of simply writing it down. Write down what you eat each day on one side of the paper and on the other side, note how you are feeling. The feelings can be emotional for those with sadness or depression or physical for those with other concerns.
See what patterns emerge. Experiment with different foods. Try something new for a month and see if there are any changes. Research on the internet, talk to your family and friends, buy books, try cooking different recipes. There is a strong and intimate connection between what you eat and how you feel. Love yourself enough to figure out how food and drink affects your body and your mind.
What is stopping you from paying attention to the food that you eat? Do you want to feel your best? Do you believe that what you are consuming is impacting your mood and performance?
I guarantee a change towards a healthier diet will have you feeling mentally and physically better.
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