I cannot stress enough the importance of a good diet when you are overcoming a mental health problem Its absolutely vital that you develop strong habits of self care that you will stick to in the long term.
While it may not seem it, a good diet is absolutely critical in helping you to overcome your Anxiety or Depression problems in the long term.
Often when we suffer these conditions we are so concentrating "in our heads" that we stop looking after ourselves and our diets as we just don't seem to have the motivation anymore.
It is hard to imagine how elements such as diet and exercise can help you to control negative thoughts, but they can and they do. Recovery is about attacking this from every angle you can. When you suffer with Anxiety or Panic symptoms your nervous system is massively over stimulated with all the excess adrenalin that you are producing, so thinking logically why would you then work it up even more by feeding it lots of sugar and processed foods?
When we are Anxious, just coping with the effects and symptoms of all this excess adrenalin uses up most of our efforts and energy reserves. For this reason we tend to fall into a routine of eating a bad diet and not looking after ourselves.
Food which is not as good for you can make you feel better in the short term, but it won't help you in the longer term. Eating badly puts weight on, strain on your health both physically and mentally and decreases your self esteem.
Put bluntly you have to understand that these are conditions that need to be well managed in the long term to provide you will the long term relief and quality of life that you so crave. Period.
Think of someone who has a heart attack, following on from their attack there are things they will be able to change about their lifestyle to prevent them having another heart attack in the future such as, stopping smoking, exercising more, restricting salt intake and their doctor may advise that this is in his opinion a given and the only way forward. This kind of advice is exactly the same for maintaining wellness from Anxiety Disorders and Depression, there are things that you can do away from your symptoms to help yourself and you must alter what you are doing now that is not working for you and develop more positive habits that will help to prevent you spiralling again in the future.
This is all about getting well and staying well.
Ask yourself, do you ever want to feel like this again? I am sure you have answered no to that question given that you are visiting this web site in the first place.
So you have a choice, learn to manage this well and take this seriously or to leave yourself open to suffering again sometime in the future, the choice really is yours. Any technique that you are using to help yourself can be undermined by not having the right diet to help you, It really is that important.
Let's look at the types of food groups that you should be limiting or avoiding when you are suffering from Anxiety and Depression
Firstly what to avoid or if you really cannot do without these, then at least limit them.
The "CATS" which are:
- Caffeine - You must eliminate caffeine from your diet as it plays havoc and over stimulates your nervous system. Change to Decaffeinated if you are a regular Tea and Coffee Person, you don't need to give it up but stop using caffeine. Have the odd Costa or Starbucks, this limitation does not mean you have to do without anything ever so have a treat but in the main avoid Caffeine.
- Alcohol - I know myself this can numb the feelings of panic so lots of people who suffer with panic symptoms will drink alcohol especially in the evenings to help them relax. I do want to stress though that alcohol is itself a depressant and so even though you may be seduced by the quick fix it gives you, in the long run you can be sure it will make you worse.
- Tobacco - Another nervous system stimulant that in the long run will make you worse. We have all heard smokers say the use Cigarettes to "help " them relax, but is that not just something to do with their hands? Cigarettes are proven to add to stress not reduce it and also put you at risk of serious disease in the process.
- Artificial Sweeteners are really important to give up, Aspartame is one of the worst things that you can consume if you suffer with Anxiety.
Other foods to avoid or at least Limit your intake.
- Fizzy drinks which are often loaded with sugar
- Processed Foods
- White Rice/ Bread/ Pasta
- Fast Foods
Foods to eat and enjoy.
- Salad Leafs and Vegetables-Specifically, food that is chockfull of the B vitamin folate may help ward off the doldrums of depression. Recent research shows that blood levels of folate are lower in people who are depressed than in people who are not depressed, Researchers believe that B vitamins help break down the amino acid homocysteine, which, at high levels, may be linked to depression. Excellent sources of folate include leafy green vegetables, beans, citrus fruits, and fortified grain products - so try brightening a bad mood with a colourful spinach salad.
- Whole grain foods-Of all the bad-mood triggers out there, hunger is one of the biggest culprits. That's because when your blood sugar level drops, certain mood-controlling areas of the brain may be affected. Studies show that dense carbohydrates can solve this problem because they increase the brain chemical serotonin, which is a mood enhancer, Go with a whole grain or a complex carbohydrate like brown rice. Brown rice and beans make a great serotonin-boosting combination.
- Un processed meats, such as chicken and turkey-Take for instance, turkey: This is an anti anxiety food and is high in tryptophan, an amino acid thought to have a positive effect on stress because it helps the brain produce feel-good chemicals. Tryptophan is important for increasing your brain's levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Fresh fish- Think of your brain as a machine that needs oil - omega-3 fatty acids can help things run smoothly. "Omega-3 fats make cell membranes more fluid, improving communication between brain cells, so mood-elevating neurotransmitters such as serotonin can get through," she explains. If you want to jump start your noggin, try fatty fish like salmon, trout, sardines, herring, and anchovies.
- Porridge- A great source of slow release energy
- Nuts- A good source of tryptophan,an amino acid thought to have a positive effect on stress because it helps the brain produce feel-good chemicals. Tryptophan is important for increasing your brain's levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Eggs- A good source of tryptophan, an amino acid thought to have a positive effect on stress because it helps the brain produce feel-good chemicals. Tryptophan is important for increasing your brain's levels of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine.
- Dark Chocolate-If crankiness is one of your hallmark PMS symptoms, consider dark chocolate, which may stimulate neural activity in the regions of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, according to recent research. Studies also show that eating 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate every day for two months can reduce stress hormones. Dark chocolate benefits come from antioxidants called flavonoids, but you need to be sure your chocolate is 75 percent cocoa.
- Black Tea- Some like it hot … and some like it ice-cold - either way, tea may be your ticket to reducing stress. In a study where people drank black tea for six weeks, researchers were able to show a significant decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. Black tea has also been used to improve memory and may even help get rid of headaches. And the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates black tea as likely to be effective at increasing mental alertness.
- Greek Yoghurt- Irritability and anxiety can often be attributed to a sudden drop in blood sugar, And the best way to prevent a drop in blood sugar is to consistently eat something every three to four hours. Perfect pick-me-up foods for irritability include low-fat Greek yoghurt with berries or a small handful of almonds with a piece of fruit. Try to stick to meals that you prepare yourself and look for realise energy foods that don't give you a sugar "hit" and then an energy slump as this is what you are trying to avoid as it's not good for your mood regulation.
It is hard to give up things you enjoy, but it's necessary to balance yourself and help to achieve long periods of wellness from emotional or mental health issues.