Well if you haven’t realised by now, I am all about eating foods that are joyous, indulgent, as natural as can be and abundant in health giving properties. I truly believe that eating the right kinds of foods can have a massive impact on how you feel both physically, mentally and even emotionally.
Prawns fried in Coconut oil and Garlic, finished with Hot Smoked Paprika and served with Avocado
Orgnanic Chicken Liver Pate on Almond crackers
Free-Range Ham with Rhubarb & Apple Sauce with a Baby Tomato Spinach Salad
Many people suffer from depression and while this can be for a multitude of reasons, there are certain things that can be done to help pull a person out of that mental ditch. It is incredibly hard in a depressive state to do some of the simplest of tasks, but I know from personal experience the things that can help move you in the right direction are quite simple too.
First up a person has to want to help themselves and they might also need the help and support of friends, family and or a therapist.
On a more practical level I’ve found getting organised and planning my days/weeks can really help, as tough as it sometimes can be, if you force yourself to do stuff and get stuff done, it helps give you a sense of achievement, however small that might be.
Getting out of bed, getting dressed and making yourself presentable to the outside world even if you may not be planning to “see” anyone – can really get your mind in a better state.
A bit of exercise everyday can also really help even if it is just a 20 minute walk or 10 minutes of yoga and building up to a bit more can obviously help in boosting those Endorphins – brain producing chemicals that make you feel good :-). Also Meditation can really help calm the mind and reset your consciousness.
All these routines can really compliment eating the right kinds of foods and the effects build up over time to really give you a positive outlook and a body that sings with health and vitality.
Believe me, I know life throws us some curve balls from time to time and to put all these things into practice on a daily basis can really be challenging. I actually read somewhere once, that to form a habit it takes 21 consecutive days – and so to break one I imagine… I’m the kind of person who enjoys a bit of a challenge; so 21 days of putting good mood/health practices into place sounds pretty cool to me, especially if it will make a person feel better – Anyone fancy giving it a go?
Now onto the food side of things – certain foods can really bring a person’s mood down and also affect hormonal balance which in turn can make you feel really depressed, aside from or on top of any circumstantial things going on in your life. So why eat those foods that make you feel crappy at all!? Why not always eat the foods that are going to help make you feel fantastic!?
Here is the list of food/drinks that can make you feel rubbish:
Enemy number one: SUGAR!!!! Gives you that upward zip and makes you buzz right before your body crashes into a depressive slump and then leading you to crave more of the sugary stuff sending you on a roller-coaster that ultimately is heading for a big crash. The more processed it is the worse off you will be. Not to mention increasing your likely hood of having weight problems and potentially some pretty serious health conditions. Even diet soda after a time, starts to trick your body into thinking it is having sugar not to mention the links that artificial sweeteners have to cancer – in my opinion Coca Cola, Pepsi and all the other “drink giants” have a lot to answer for! Top tip: Coca Cola makes a good toilet cleaner… 😉
Alongside sugar are High GI foods – that is food that releases energy into your blood very quickly – it has the same effect as pure sugar. This includes: white rice, white potatoes, white bread, white pasta and corn (see a theme here? All heavily processed and colour bleached away). Sugary fruits/juices like Melon, Oranges, Grapes even dried fruits etc can have the same effect although perhaps with a few more Vits thrown in.
Gluten is also apparently on the hit list: there was a huge population study that found Coeliac disease was associated with an 80% increased risk of depression. Given that there is a massive proportion of the population who have Coeliac disease but have not officially been diagnosed that is a pretty massive fact, especially when you consider there is around 3 million people suffering from depression in the UK alone. In fact you can have mood debilitating symptoms relating to Gluten without even having Coeliac Disease. Maybe worth looking into…
Caffeine: while initially it might give you a buzz it also causes dehydration which can later lead to irritability, withdrawal headaches and can sometimes affect your sleep quality. I find I am best off sticking to having my caffeine in the mornings or having a cut off point no later than say 4pm. But perhaps worth cutting down altogether on the amount of caffeine is worth looking at. Green tea is quite a good alternative to Coffee and Breakfast tea as it has less caffeine and is also packed with antioxidants. (An antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules – so in theory helps slow down the ageing process and prevents diseases…)
Alcohol: is a known depressant. Initially it might relax and mellow you out, but chances are it will make you feel worse particularly the next day – imagine the build up if you drink alcohol everyday. Your Liver has to work overtime to clear the toxins, which is why it can drain your energy and also affect the quality of your sleep – everyone needs to achieve some REM (deep sleep cycle) during the night in order to feel refreshed the next day. Of course the other thing about alcohol is, it contains enemy number 1 Sugar not to mention a tonne of negative calories with no nutritive benefit. Of course socially it is nice to join in with other people and a have a drink occasionally – you have to enjoy yourself too! I have found if I have a glass of wine it is best to have it with a meal as it slows the sugar rush affects down. Also a lower sugar alcoholic drink, that is gluten-free is sipping Tequila – on the rocks with freshly squeezed lime juice and a splash of soda water. I wouldn’t recommend more than 2 of an evening, if you really want a balanced mood and good night’s sleep… Also best to have lots of water to counteract the dehydration effects of the alcohol.
Now let’s get onto the good stuff! The things that will really help pick your mood up.
A lack of Omega 3 essential fatty acids can really have an effect on us and so many people don’t have enough in their diets! You can find sources in oily fish like Sardines, Mackerel, and Salmon.
A lack of B & D Vitamins, Folate and minerals like Magnesium and Selenium can also account for lower moods. To get good sources of these eat plenty of good quality proteins such as:
Eggs, Pork, Chicken, Turkey, lean Beef, Fish, Seafood, Quinoa. Where possible go free-range and organic for added health benefits (no anti-biotics or growth hormones) and peace of mind that any animals have been treated well…
Prawns in Coconut Oil, Garlic and Samphire
Crab & Asparagus Salad
Nuts (Brazil nuts are particularly good apparently) and Seeds – also soaking your nuts (not your privates gentleman) overnight (then rinsing in the morning) actually awakens the live properties in the nuts and makes them even more nutrient dense and powerful, so in theory you can eat less and get more – Bonus!
And of course green leafy vegetables like Spinach, Kale and Brocoli.
Can you see the theme with the “good stuff?” It’s colourful and unprocessed! I find personally the best way to maintain my energy and keep my mood balanced is to make sure that every meal I have, contains a good source of protein and my carbs come from Low GI sources, like vegetables, some fruits, a little Buckwheat or Quinoa. I also try to keep my sugar content low and balance out any sugars with protein and fibre. Try it (21 days) and see if you feel better too!
Finally how could I forget: CHOCOLATE – OH YEAH BABY!
I have met an enormous amount of people who profess to being Chocoholics over the years. I’ll ask them what is your favourite chocolate? 9 times out of 10 they will list off something from the Cadbury’s range of milk chocolates or similar highly over marketed brand. I’m afraid to say but anyone of you that professes to be a chocoholic based on eating Cadbury’s is sorely mistaken. Perhaps a more accurate description of your habit might be: “a sugar junky that likes watered down chocolate with all the goodness extracted from it and with a good dollop of genetically modified Soy lecithin in it for good measure!” Sorry if this sounds harsh but ever read the back of a chocolate wrapper to see what they put in there…? If you really are looking to get some of the great benefits of eating chocolate then a good quality dark chocolate is the way to go and the higher the Cacao value the better. Watch out for the added Soy crap and really if you are going to have sugar see if you can get one with raw unprocessed sugar in there. But if you really want to get a handle on what you are putting into your body have a go at making it yourself!
The Real Chocoholic post to follow shortly 🙂 …