Foods that help battle depression are all around us. We can help ourselves feel better through what we do and do not put in our mouths. We all need to find our own balance, and work within our own bodies to create our own “Happiness Recipe”
I’m not a dietitian or I a medical doctor. Simply someone who has a deep interest in the subject and has done a lot of research around it.
Food is our natural source of vitamins, amino-acids, Omega 3 and 6, in fact all the essential building blocks we need to feel good. From available research on the role of Omega 3 in the body, it seems that it may play a role especially in the physical symptoms associated with depression.
Food is unfortunately often also a source of the allergies or reactions that cause us to feel like rubbish.
What NOT to eat
What you do not eat is actually often just as important as what you do. Look for example at what refined sugars do to our bodies: You get a quick energy boost, followed by the hypoglycemic dump, which leads to feeling… you guessed it: depressed.
If we have any chance of beating depression, we need to take our bodies’ reaction to food seriously.
Foods and drinks that have a high potential to add to our depression are;
- Refined carbohydrates such as white bread, white rice, french fries etc. Also, it is a good idea to go without gluten for a few days. You’ll very soon notice if it is one of the causes of your depression.
- Coffee reacts the same as sugar in a way, gives you a short term lift, and then promptly dumps you.
- Alcohol – alcohol is a depressant, plain and simple. (Check out my post on alcohol and depression)
- Food with lots of colorants and flavorings. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
Now look, I’m no saint! I do have dark chocolate almost every day – about two blocks, so yes, I do eat sugar here and there. I have one cup of coffee in the morning, I drink alcohol on occasion. The point is to be aware of what can worsen your condition, and manage it responsibly.
What do I eat that helps with depression?
Lets divide it up in a way that make sense shall we.
Important note: eating small amounts often, help to stabilize blood sugar, and gives your brain enough fuel to it is important work. Too many people tackle their day on nothing but coffee. By 9 or 10 o’clock their blood sugar has dropped, and they feel tired and uninspired. Coffee with lots of sugar is often the go to for a lift, but you can imagine how well that will work out for you with the double dump of caffeine and refined carb. So, here’s what I do –
Firstly I focus on foods that help battle depression:
I start most days off with two pasture eggs and some cheese – since I don’t eat bread, I’m not into toast, but if you do, make sure it is whole grain.
Pasture eggs are a great luxury for most of us – it means the chickens run around free on the farm. Grain fed eggs contain the least Omega 3, as the chickens don’t have access to the natural source – bugs. Chickens by the way are not meant to be eating Roundup doused maize, which is what most of them eat around here. A step up from those, are Free-range eggs, which means the chickens are on the ground, and have a little access to open sky, but they still eat mostly what they’re fed.
Pasture eggs, if you can get your hands on some, have 3x, that’s three times the omega 3 content of normal shop eggs.
Cheese can be an allergen for some, so handle with care. I prefer having a small amount of fatty cheese to adding salt personally.
On the odd days I don’t feel like eggs, I have granola with plain yogurt. Once again these foods are great for energy and brain food. Very important though, is that you don’t add sugar to the mix. Plain yogurt should have no preservatives – if you can find it. Sugar unfortunately kills off the AB cultures that are so extremely good for our guts. Those little bacteria help us to absorb nutrients, help us to feel good, and keeps everything in equilibrium. I talk about probiotics a little later on.
Now according to many dietitians, it is better to have your larger meal in the afternoon, so you don’t end up going to bed with a full belly. Sorry, but with a family and working parents, that’s just not practical for me.
What I do find works, is to get some oily fish into a salad over lunch. Yes, I know they can be expensive, but even the canned version is better than none. My salad contains veggies that I either grow myself, or buy whole. It’s not always possible for everyone to access organic veggies, although they are THAT much better, so do the best you can.
Veggies that have been chopped up in the shop have often been drenched in bleach to ensure that they don’t go off. It’s simply not great for your gut to ingest something that kills the good bacteria we so desperately need.
This kind of salad can give you loads of vitamins and omegas, as well as providing carbohydrates that your body can easily digest.
Now we get to some real cooking!
Herbs and spices are divine as far as I’m concerned, so i always try to add at least three. What’s really important to remember though, is
Garlic, Ginger and Turmeric – (Turmeric should be accompanied by at least some pepper for better absorption)
These are pre-biotics, in other words they feed the good bacteria in your system and helps them fight the bad bugs.
We add as much fresh veggies to dinner as we can – often making a famous Savage dish called “Moerby” which translates to chucking everything in the same pot. We add beans to the mix too, red beans, black beans, black eyed peas and more. Beans are fantastic! As far as meat is concerned, I try to source meat that is grass fed, or comes from a local farm when possible. Meat is massively high in the B complex vitamins, which are simply the best when it comes to improving depression, so it’s a challenge for vegans and vegetarians to get enough of those in, but that’s where the beans, nuts and green leafy veggies can be very helpful.
For carbs, we usually have brown rice, jacket potatoes grilled on the fire, whole wheat pasta or millet. All of these have health benefits, and will give you sustained energy the next day.
Snacks – yes, remember, small amounts often keep your brain fueled. Fruit, raw vegetables like a whole carrot, nuts and sometimes a whole chocolate bar – kidding!
A note on drinks
Dehydration is a leading cause of fatigue and irritability. So called health drinks like fruit juice and flavored waters still contain mountains of sugar. To work out how much sugar is in your drink, check the list on the bottle for carbohydrates – water doesn’t have carbs in, so it tells you the sugar content. 4 grams is more or less one teaspoon.
What should we be drinking then? Water or herbal tea mostly. If you do want some juice, mix it with a lot of plain water or carbonated water. One’s body very quickly adapts to not having sugar, so the stuff starts tasting much sweeter.
Probiotics battle depression!
Probiotics are the good bugs that your gut needs to create a healthy gut-brain relationship. A healthy gut allows the Vegas nerve to do it is job. This nerve is the information superhighway between body and brain that regulates if your system works well, and you feel happy, or your system works badly, and you feel depressed, anxious or fatigued.
So will these foods cure your depression?
On their own, probably not, but they will start the process and help a lot. For more information about supplements and methods to cure your depression, please follow the link here: