Foods that Help Battle Depression

Sam picking tomatoes

Love picking tomatoes.

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;Depressed man

  • Sugar
  • 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:

Eggs for breakfastBreakfast 1

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.

Breakfast 2

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.

fish and salad for lunchLunch

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.

Dinner

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.Beans are healthy

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:

Supplements for mental wellness
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28 Comments

  1. Strahinja

    Thank you for this informative post and the courage to share your story. I never suffered from depression although I am 100% sure that the food we eat can influence our mind drastically.
    I noticed that when I lowered the meat amounts I took daily and changed it with raw fruits and cooked vegatbles.

    Thank you. Awesome website.

  2. Kay

    Phew, this topic hits so close to home for me! I am so glad you posted this and are sharing this message for all to see.

    We don’t always think about it and when we are feeling sad we often turn to “comfort food”. This is so self- sabotaging 🙁

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kay
      I’m busy building a whole bunch of resources that will help us all consume what we need. If you’re still doing the confort food sometimes, keep the protein high and the bread in the bin. Best of luck!

  3. Jesse Lee

    Great post!
    I try to keep my sugar, coffee and alcohol amounts from being too high.
    I tend to make coffee in the morning and try to make that coffee last throughout the day. This way I stay alert but never overly so and I usually don’t feel too tired.
    Balance and moderation is the key for me to be happy.
    I like the way you talked about eating small amounts through out the day and I definitely try to do that.
    Bigger meals, especially if they are high in sugar, always tend to make me feel slightly down.
    I also find that getting consistent good sleep really helps with how I feel.
    If I am significantly sleep deprived, then I am much more likely to eat more food and foods that are high in sugar.
    Taking naps has greatly helped me keep my energy levels in a good place for the majority of the day.
    Thank you for sharing all the helpful information!

    • Hey Jesse
      Thanks so much for the comment!
      I absolutely agree on the naps!
      Coffee and sugar are both a bit on the high risk side, so I avoid them mostly, but I agree, that one cup in the morning goes a long way!
      Hope you feel fantastic
      Sam

  4. arzu hosan

    First of all thank you so much for giving us such an article.

    I attempt to keep my sugar, espresso and liquor sums from being excessively high.

    I will in general make espresso in the first part of the day and attempt to make that espresso last for the duration of the day. Along these lines I remain alert however never excessively so and I for the most part don’t feel excessively worn out.

    Equalization and balance is the key for me to be upbeat.

    I like the manner in which you discussed eating modest quantities for the duration of the day and I unquestionably attempt to do that.

    Greater suppers, particularly on the off chance that they are high in sugar, constantly will in general make me feel somewhat down.

    I additionally find that getting steady great rest truly assists with how I feel.

    In the event that I am fundamentally restless, at that point I am substantially more prone to eat more nourishment and food sources that are high in sugar.

    Taking snoozes has enormously helped me keep my vitality levels in a decent spot for most of the day.

    Much obliged to you for sharing all the supportive data!

  5. Danijel

    Hello Sam, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. It is a real truth that proper food can prevent depression and eventually stop it from returning. The bad thing is that when people are depressed they run for unhealthy food which only prolongs the state of depression. Your menu is great, I will add these foods on my menu too.

    • Sam Savage

      Thanks so much Danijel.

      Yup, that feeling of wanting a chocolate bar just to feel better…. or whatever your poison is.

      Fresh and whole seems to be my best motto.  Enjoy!

  6. Rodarrick

    Many of us don’t pay enough attention to the things we consume especially when sad. We just eat anything at all that seems like the way out of our depressed mood. Thanks for sharing all these helpful tips and meals that can prove inflencial overtime in helping us to maintain a worthy hygiene. Thank you so much for sharing this here. However, I feel that this plan does not offer so much options, would it not become tiring sooner?

    • Sam Savage

      Hi Rodarrick

      You’re right about the lack of diversity.  I wanted to give a basic idea, and encourage people to create their own.  Perhaps I should ad a link to some more interesting options and recipes!  Thanks so much for your comment.

  7. KingAndrea

    Food is an essential part of life and without it, we die in a couple of days. Healthy living deals with how well we eat and how monitored our food intake is, it’s really funny how the same food we eat and enjoy so we’ll creates allergies for other people, I guess that because id differences in body system. I love how you’ve spelled out the kind of foods to eat to help with depression. I’ll definitely imbibe some of these into my diet and i know it’s gonna be effective. Thanks

    • Sam Savage

      Hey Andrea

      From what I’ve read, some of the allergies (like gluten for example) come from our genetics.  People that come from Mediteranian decent tend to be fine with wheat and flour, while those of us from other areas don’t have the ability to break gluten down.  I think our bodies know what’s good for them, but we’ve stopped listening.  Fresh and whole fruit and veg are always the best place to start though. 

      Thanks so much for your input.

  8. Gomer

    It is an eye-opener for a coffee addict like me to see or read something about coffee saying it’s not good for a person with depression. You said in there, it lifts you up for a short term and then dumps you which I feel you are telling the truth here as I have experienced it myself. I got boost, and then after an hour, feeling downed again. That cycle has turned me into a coffee addict, drinking doses of coffee every time I’m downed. 

    About your mentioning of eating a chocolate bar, isn’t chocolate and coffee the same in composition and should be avoided as well?

    • Sam Savage

      Yup!

      You hit the nail on the head.  The chocolate bar was a bit of a joke.

      Beware when you stop coffee though, as one can develop headaches in the first few days.  You’ll see a lot of the painkillers on the market have lots of caffeine in them – exactly meant to target those people who don’t realize they are actually getting caffeine withdrawals.  If you do get a headache, make sure you drink lots of water, and if you do need to take a painkiller, make sure it doesn’t contain caffeine.

      Hope you feel fantastic soon!

      Sam

  9. David ben

    A feel good food is whatever you enjoy eating. If you’re depressed after that, try an airline ticket to a warm, sunny, exciting country with happy, smiling people.i would say An apple a day could  help if eaten with the rest of these foods — keep the psychiatrist away, at least for stretches of time.

    • Sam Savage

      It’s so great to hear from someone who doesn’t seem to need the advice.  I live in just such a country, and if I don’t watch what I eat, the depression creeps back in.  An apple, and fruit is of course essential.

      Thanks so much for the input!

      Sam

  10. Dee Tran

    Wow, your post is very informative. I’ve been looking for a few substitutes on how to eat better and your post has offered some great suggestions to get me started on the right foot but without having to make an immediate huge diet change which is always the fear. I will incorporate some of those seasonings tips as well (ginger, turmeric) into my daily diet. Your post will help me take the baby steps I need to get to better eating habits. Thanks for sharing your insight on this topic. 

    • Sam Savage

      Hi Dee

      Thanks so much!  I hope it can help.  I love walking around a good veggie shop or market, and trying things I’ve never tasted before – also leads to more variety and a healthier diet.

  11. Nelson dave

    Everything here is good sound dietary advice, depression or not. The human body responds to what it ingests, be it food, alcohol, medicine, and vitamins. (Although some say that Vitamins are just the source of expensive pee, others swear solidly by them.) Many in the USA know about Tryptophan, which is often claimed to be responsible for the nap after the main meal on Thanksgiving.

    • Sam Savage

      Hey there

      Absolutely, the body responds to what it absorbs.  Very interesting research coming out at the moment regarding vitamins and how they are the medications of the future.  Let me know if you’d like some links.  

      One of my challenges for my whole blog is not to say anything works unless I can back it up with peer reviewed articles.  I was actually amazed at how easy that is.  

      Stay healthy and happy!

      Sam

  12. Shelley

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Food play vital role in making us feel better or worse. It can really trigger some things in us that can prove fatal in making our life better or deepen more in depression. I really like this post because it has addressed a rather sensitive topic. This diet option you presented here is good and worth trying out.

    • Sam Savage

      Hi Shelley

      Thanks so much for your comment.  I suspect that you know where I come from.  I really hope this post can help yourself and lots of other people.  If you do struggle with the downs, have a look at my other posts too, as there’s lots of options to the traditional treatments we know.

      Love and light!

      Sam

  13. Roslinecar

    The most surprising part of this food and drink thing I that most of the food we see to be harmless and normal are apparently the most dangerous to our health. I agree with you that keeping a good diet can help with depression and even some other issues. Coffee has really been an issue to consider for me nowadays, I find most people condemn it that it’s not good for this condition and that, do to think of it we consume it even sometimes more than cooked foods, my husband can’t miss picking up a cup, please do you have any idea why this is so??

    • Sam Savage

      Hi there!

      Coffee isn’t inherently bad for you, but unfortunately we forget how strong the stuff is.  If you never drink coffee, even one cup will keep you up all night.  Our bodies are so used to it, that we end up drinking liters of the stuff.

      When we stop coffee, (especially when we drink a lot of it) we can actually experience caffeine withdrawals.  This causes nasty headaches which luckily pass in a few days.  This is exactly why a lot of the simple over the counter painkillers often contain caffeine.  They know people drink lots of coffee at work, but on a weekend they don’t – suddenly they have a headache by Saturday afternoon.  The painkiller gives them caffeine, and the cycle continues.

      If you’re having one or two cups a day, and have no need for it otherwise, enjoy!

  14. Wildecoll

    I always take enough caution whenever it comes to what I ingest, considering the nature of my wife, she’s so engrossed in her dietician thing and this has definitely affected me in a very positive way. Depression most times doesn’t agree with supplements and popping of tablets, natural means like managing our food properly works better. It’s a good idea to have posted this helpful information.

    • Sam Savage

      Hi there

      Glad your wife is a good influence. 😉

      Depression is actually massively improved by supplements such as B vitamins and amino acids, as the depressed body struggles to absorb those from the food we eat.  This is why I suggest doing both.  Its more fun to eat interesting stuff that feeds your body, but sometimes a body can do with all the help it can get.

      Have a fantastic day, and thanks so much for your comment.

      sam

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