It’s natural to feel a bit down from time to time, but if you find yourself feeling sad or lonely a lot of the time, then it could be a sign that you’re battling with depression. It’s a mental health condition that’s still taboo for many people, but it’s important to know that it CAN be treated and overcome.
Depression, or even a case of “the blues” often impacts how, and what, we eat. Some people lose their appetite entirely, while others turn to comfort eating. Both are unhealthy scenarios.
How food affects mood
As difficult as it might seem at the time, try to be conscious of what and how you’re eating: it can make a big difference to how you’re feeling. This is because certain foods affect your mood, so try to eat more of the following during those times when you’re feeling under the weather. It can make the world of difference!
- It starts with not missing breakfast, this really is the most important meal of the day. It doesn’t just set you up with the energy you need to get you through the day, but it also improves your mood and memory. If you can’t handle a big breakfast then opt for eggs on toast or oats with honey and nuts.
- For lunch or dinner, try including more oily fish such as tuna, salmon and mackerel in your meals. They’re packed with omega 3 essential fats. These are proven to help beat depression by increasing serotonin (happy chemicals) in your brain, and help it function in a more controlled way. If you don’t like fish, then ask your pharmacist for a good quality omega 3 supplement.
- B-vitamins affect your mood, sleep and energy levels, and if you’re running low on these then it can be one of the reasons why you’re feeling down. You can get B-vitamins though a variety of food – from fresh fruit and vegetables to milk, eggs, meat and whole grains. If your daily diet lacks this, then you can also take a B-vitamin supplement to keep up your reserves.
- Carbohydrates also boost serotonin levels, which as you now know helps boost and maintain your mood. Just be sure to choose the best type of carbohydrates such as vegetables, whole-grains and fresh fruit, and perhaps avoid extreme “banting” if you’re battling with depression or low moods.
- Selenium is another essential nutrient which is linked to better moods, so stock up on lean meat, seafood and Brazil nuts to get your daily dose.
There is help for depression
Remember, if you’re battling with on-going depression the best thing you can do is speak to your doctor about it to find the cause and start on treatment. Food is only one lifestyle aspect that you need to consider when it comes to depression – regular exercise, quitting smoking and cutting down on alcohol also make a big difference to helping you overcome the blues.
Joanne Hart for HelloDoctor.com