When I finally began to learn about my illness, I discovered one term that I had never heard of before. Self-care. I was raised that if a person thought of themselves first, they were bad people. Good Catholics always were supposed to put themselves last. Now there are times where I feel like crap. But hubby worked a long day and so I make supper. It is ok to put others first, to be selfless. But I believe we are the most help to others…those that we love when we take care of ourselves. I know if hubby thought eating Brussels sprouts every night would help me…he’d eat them for breakfast too.
No it is not that easy. Something green will probably not rattle your world with how you change right away. I do believe however, that improving our diet and lifestyle can make a difference. Taking medication and therapy can be essential. The mind and the body are a team and when one member is not working well, the other is affected. Think about how you feel physically when you are in a state of depression. It can work both ways. People who have a deteriorating body can see improvement when they maintain a positive state of mind. There is plenty of evidence that supports the link between the two.
Evidence also shows that changing how we eat and increasing physical activity can have so many benefits that it would be too long to include here. To name just a few: preventing cardio-vascular disease, cancer dementia and mental disorders including depression. I don’t know of particular foods that can prevent mania. I think I am safe in assuming that oysters would not be one of them. Wouldn’t it be great to be at the mall and after spending way too much in one store you just popped down to the food court, had an apple and poof…ready to be practical again.
Diet has been proven to have such a large impact on mental health that it now has its own field of medicine: Nutritional Psychiatry.
Eva Selhub, a mind-body medicine specialist had this to say: “A dietary pattern characterized by a high intake of fruit, vegetables, whole-grain, fish, olive oil, and low-fat dairy, and antioxidants and low intake of animal foods was apparently associated with a decreased risk of depression. A dietary pattern characterized by a high consumption of red and/or processed meat, refined grains, sweets, high-fat dairy products, butter, potatoes and high fat gravy, and low intakes of fruits and vegetables is associated with an increased risk of depression.”
Depression seems to have this trigger which proves that we have an acute ability to induce cardiac arrest with the junk we eat. If someone offered me a salad…then I would laugh. I assume ice cram has some medicinal properties. Let’s be honest. Who is concerned about what they eat when they feel like they are at the bottom of a pit. It is not that we have some sort of miracle cure. But trying to make improvements when we are good can have a positive impact on how we feel. I can attest that every time I walk out of the gym…I feel amazing.
Research has been done on people. We are not the most reliable of subjects. We know how to sneak that chocolate bar. That is why mice do a much better job. In a recent review titled “Nutritional Psychiatry: Where to Next,” authors wrote, “Ensuring and accurately measuring dietary adherence is far more challenging in nutrition than in almost any other field of research.” Researchers are beginning to grasp that there will always be exceptions – people who saw no changes with dietary changes because of genetic or environmental differences.
I can give you my personal experience. Making changes in my lifestyle has had only positive effects. I feel better when I maintain a healthy weight. Not feeling bloated and uncomfortable all the time. The changes in how I feel physically have been drastic and there is no way that cannot have an impact on my mental state. At times when I can feel my depression or anxiety begin to kick in I can sometimes be preventative by taking a walk. The air and the activity seem to derail my brain.
I do not believe any one thing does everything. One cure. A change in lifestyle has to occur. I truly believe that if we truly desire an improved life, we need to look at all aspects. Sometimes it is not possible. I know there is a place we can go where we do not even care. I was there and I had to force changes. So when I felt good I did what I could. Over time…with the many changes that I made…the good became better than the bad. That is all we really can do. Try! So next time you go for that Wendy’s Baconator…try that “at least a little bit more healthy” Wendy’s salad. Oh but try to avoid the hundred calories dressing, bacon bits and croutons!