Feels like you can’t pull it together? Or like things in your life are constantly falling apart? Do you know that the food you eat affects your mood? Try to spend less time worrying, more time for physical activity, healthy home cooked meals and social outings with family and friends.
Depression is a common mental disorder that can affect anyone. It can leave you feeling sad, helpless, hopeless or worthless. Depression can be triggered by stressful events such as the death of a loved one or a job change, major illnesses such as heart attack, stroke or cancer.
Poverty, unemployment or a relationship break-up can also lead to depression.
Depression can be mild to moderate, causing loss of interest in regular activities, weight loss or gain, restlessness, tiredness and lack of energy, trouble concentrating, change in appetite, difficulty sleeping or low self-esteem. If untreated, severe depression can lead to self-harm or suicide, hallucinations or paranoia.
The good news is that depression can be treated. Apart from prescribed medication, research shows that diet and lifestyle changes can help you recover from depression. Studies show that some foods can help make us calm, while others act as stimulants (raising levels of nervous activity in the body, in other words; making you anxious or uneasy.)
Aim for an overall healthy, balanced diet to keep your mood and energy levels up. Eat beef and foods rich in Vitamin B and folic acid.
Get your needed daily allowance of protein and other needed nutrients from chicken, leafy vegetables, legumes, oranges and other citrus fruits, rice, nuts, and eggs. Try to combine complex carbohydrates and protein and spread your meals throughout the day.
Choose mood-lifting carbohydrates like whole grains such as whole wheat bread or brown rice.
These are better than the alternative processed choices like sugar or candy. Sugar from complex carbohydrates gets into your bloodstream slower because the body takes longer to break it down.
Simple carbohydrates are absorbed into the bloodstream faster and may give you a sudden burst of energy. However, this is temporary and may be followed by an insulin rush, which rapidly drops your blood sugar levels, leaving you feeling tired and lazy.
To be in your best mood, avoid coffee and drinks that contain caffeine. Although coffee can increase your energy level, it reduces levels of serotonin in the brain. When your serotonin levels are down, you can get depressed and irritable. Caffeine also keeps you awake, causing stress and anxiety. Remember that you need to sleep well to be in a positive mood.
Another thing you can do to help avoid depression is to limit the amount of alcohol you drink. The good mood you’re in after drinking alcohol is only temporary and it does not ease your stress and anxiety. Alcohol is a depressant.
It’s normal to feel down once in a while, but if you’re sad most of the time and it affects your daily life, you may have clinical depression. Seek help from your health care provider.
(The above reflects the views of the Grenada Food & Nutrition Council)