START WITH FOOD!
Food affects our mood. That’s the bottom line!
We all know that when we are depressed we often resort to comfort eating. It is really important to look at this issue when our heads are above water just enough for us to get a little perspective on the way we eat. There is plenty of medical advice available on what to eat and what not to eat, and it is often conflicting. We are bombarded by the message that eating the wrong foods can lead to illness and bad health.
The problem is that when we feel depressed, what’s in our fridge is of little importanceto us. For those of us that can munch through a packet of chocolate digestives in about fifteen minutes, we also know that if there’s one thing worse than feeling depressed, it’s feeling sick and depressed.
However, if you are trying to climb back up out of a spiral of depression, you have to pay attention to what you put into your mouth. Certain foods can exacerbate depression. For instance, overdoing it on cheese, crisps, ice cream, chocolate, white bread, cakes, biscuits, coffee, alcohol and smoking can make you feel dreadful for at least a couple of days. So you need to attend to your menu.
It’s easy to get into a cycle when you are depressed. You don’t care what you put in your mouth, so you feel worse, and then care even less. But sometimes just being aware of the link between feeling awful and your eating pattern can be enough to spur you into action. As long as you have that awareness, the seed will germinate and grow in time.
Planning ahead is the key. If you want to eat healthily, you should shop accordingly. And if you prepare healthy food earlier, it will become second nature to get out that food and eat it. Include goodies and treats, but make sure the basics are included. I generally find that by following these two rulesI can keep my focus on good food:
1 Five portions of fruit and vegetables a day
2 Eat three meals a day and nothing in between
We feel much better about ourselves when we eat well. Eating junk is part of the self-perpetuating abuse that we pour on ourselves when we have little self-worth. It’s easier to fall into the victim mentality when we don’t look after ourselves and then blame everyone else for not looking after us. Changing our food is a tiny step towards beating depression.
MY ONE BIG FOOD TIP – SOUPS! AND HOMEMADE IS BEST.
A GREAT RECIPE WHICH IS SIMPLE AND QUICK IS:
Soften 1 onion and two sticks of celery in a pan with some olive oil. Add 1 tin tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 2 cloves garlic, 1 tin cannellini beans and a pint of stock. Simmer for 30 minutes then add herbs to taste (oregano is lovely). Add grated cheese to serveif you wish. This soup is nutritious and comforting and hits the spot every time.
DRUGS AND ALCOHOL
There is nothing about cigarettes, alcohol, class A or B drugs that are going to add to our wellbeing. We all know that but we still take them. This is normal when we are depressed because we don’t have much self-value.
Weigh it up and work out which one to give up or cut down on to give yourself a better chance of recovery. If you can’t do it on your own, the section on ‘Get Help’ will point you towards people who can help you. Overcoming an addiction can pull some people into recovery from depression. They have to clean up their medicating techniques enough so they can get nearer to tackling the source of the pain.
But it’s a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. The withdrawal from the drug can expose the depression – which may be why the drug was used in the first place – and if that is too painful then the user may return to the addiction.
However, there is a fantastic recovery rate for these problems with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Also, if someone offers you the chance to go into a residential treatment centre, take the opportunity, because you will get all the support you need.
There are some great centers in the UK, Australia, Canada and in the US that offer the facilities you need to deal with drugs and alcohol. More information can be found in the ‘Resources’ section on my website alexandramassey.co.uk
If there is one alternative treatment to be recommended, it is acupuncture. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles that carry out specific actions. This can stimulate the immune system, which will increase the body’s ability to heal itself.
When we are depressed we often feel unwell in certain areas of our body. We have aches and pains and feel physically down. These are often symptoms of depression, and acupuncture can help. Many doctors now offer acupuncture for patients with specific ailments but if you are looking to go separately, ensure you find someone who’s registered with and an acupuncture council and get some good recommendations for practitioners in your area.
When you go for acupuncture, tell the practitioner that you are depressed and you want treatment for that as well as for your specific ailments. This will assist the practitioner in planning the best treatment for you. As far as cost goes, an acupuncture session starts at about USD30.
One session a month is good enough and it is really worth it. If you are depressed, you are probably spending money on something you can do without, e.g. cigarettes, chocolate, alcohol or drugs. One session of acupuncture can do more to change the way you feel than all your medications put together.
For me, acupuncture significantly contributed to removing the grey, heavy concrete slab that had sat on my chest for 15 years. I am now free of it. That’s the power of acupuncture.