Depression is a complex condition that clouds your mind, drains your energy, and robs your joy. You no longer have the drive and motivation you once had, as you struggle to push through what feels like a thick, dense fog.
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to depression, since every person has their own unique make-up and circumstances. Your depression may be linked to a specific event (or sequence of events) you’re dealing with. Or, maybe you have no idea why you’re feeling depressed.
Whatever your personal situation, changing your diet can help reduce symptoms of depression, while boosting your energy, focus, and mental clarity.
Your body relies on nutrients from the food you consume.
To maintain optimal health, your entire body relies on vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients it gets from the food you consume. From head to toe (that includes your brain), these nutrients fuel all kinds of biochemical reactions within your body at the cellular level. The right nutritional intake allows your body to repair, renew, and replenish itself on a daily basis.
Nutritional deficiencies directly impact your physical and mental health.
What happens if your body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs in adequate amounts on a consistent basis? You probably won't notice anything at first. But over time, you run the risk of nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. Your body will have a hard time keeping up with all that repair work it needs to do to maintain optimal health. These deficiencies and imbalances may eventually weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to illness.
Mentally, you may experience the effects of nutritional deficiencies and imbalances in the form of increased mood swings, brain fog, compromised memory function, and difficulty concentrating. All of this can contribute to and/or exacerbate symptoms of depression. Depending on your unique biochemistry and your level of sensitivity, this impact can be significant.
This is why your diet plays such an important role not just for maintaining optimal physical health, but for maintaining optimal mental health as well.
Small changes in diet can make a big difference.
For many people, the mere thought of making huge changes to how they eat can be quite overwhelming. Fortunately, you don’t have to start by overhauling your entire diet. Making small changes to your diet can lead to a noticeable improvement in your overall mood and mental health. Start small, and focus on what you can manage.
Start by cutting back on highly processed foods.
Highly processed foods can wreak havoc with your mental health, so cutting back on these foods is a good place to start. This list includes fast food, pre-prepared meals like frozen dinners, store-bought baked goods, and packaged snacks like cookies and potato chips.
These foods are typically low in nutritional value, so they rarely provide what your brain needs for optimal functioning. At the same time, these foods are often high in added sugar, which can be difficult for your body to manage. Along with unpleasant energy swings, excess sugar also makes it more difficult to maintain a stable mood.
In addition to their poor nutritional value, these foods often contain chemical additives, preservatives and colours. These ingredients are typically used to enhance the flavour of food and to help to extend a product’s shelf-life. Many people underestimate their sensitivity and don’t realize how much their mood is affected by these unnatural ingredients. Cutting back on these foods can lessen the intensity of your depression and help stabilize your mood.
Replace processed foods with healthy alternatives you enjoy.
As you cut back on all those highly processed foods and snacks, it’s important to replace them with healthy alternatives you enjoy. This ensures that you’re providing your body with the nutrients it needs for optimal functioning. It also ensures that you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
What are some healthy alternatives? Focus on foods that come directly from nature with minimal processing and no unnecessary chemical ingredients added. For example:
You can make most of your meals healthier simply by preparing them yourself from scratch. Looking for a quick and healthy dinner? Skip the take-out and whip up an omelette instead, with a fresh salad on the side.
Conclusion: don't underestimate how your diet can improve how you feel.
As you work to manage your depression, you’re probably exploring different strategies to find what helps. As you experiment to find what works best for you, don’t underestimate the role your diet plays in maintaining a clear, healthy, stable mind. A few key small changes can lead to a big improvement in how you feel.
Tips for achieving optimal wellness, inside and out.