I will be writing a series of articles on how diet and exercise can be helpful when trying to manage depression. Feel well and you will feel happier; this is my firm belief and I will be sharing my tips with you.
In this article, the first of a series, I cover food and drink in general. It is a guide to nourishment, in the form of hydration and food, that will make you healthier and consequently boost your state of mind. A diet change can lift your mood, make you feel more relaxed, and improve your health.
“You Are What You Eat”. We all know this phrase. It has been said for many years although its origin is unknown. It was written in both French and German in the nineteenth century and, in English, was first used in the 1930s.
Remember, feel well and you will feel happier. Try the following:
Drink Plenty of Water
You should stay hydrated. You might like to read my article “How To Obtain And Maintain A Flat Tummy With Good Nutrition And Exercises” where I talk about the importance of drinking enough water. Our brain contains about 75 per cent water. It comes as no surprise, therefore, that dehydration can adversely affect your mood. It’s recommended that you should drink 6 to 8 glasses or cups of water a day. And you should look at the colour of your wee! It should be very pale in colour, and very yellow or dark wee is a sure sign that you need to drink more water. I’ve found this chart useful:
And I’ve got a tip to help you manage to drink more water, something I discovered myself. I’ve always enjoyed a couple of glasses a day, carbonated sparkling water, cold from the fridge. It sounds enticing but it’s difficult to drink in quantity, both because of the bubbles and the chill as you drink it. Try still water, filtered if possible but straight from the tap will be okay, and have it at room temperature. It just glides down, no effort required, and it becomes easy to drink the quantity you need to stay healthy.
Another of my personal tips. Fill a litre bottle with tap water each morning and make sure you drink it all by bedtime. I find this takes the thought and effort out of drinking water. More hydration will come from my daily cup of tea and coffee, one of each, too, so that I will reach my daily quota.
Eat Regular Meals
Maintain your mood level by regularly refueling your brain. Eat little and often, and have a varied, balanced diet. It is important to follow the “five-a-day” rule with fruit and vegetables and to make sure you include protein, starchy carbohydrates, and fat. I’ll explain, simply, what they are:
Protein contains tryptophan. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, and it produces a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Serotonin transmits messages between your nerve cells and brain. NHS UK, in an article about serotonin claims: “It’s thought to have a good influence on mood, emotion and sleep.”.
Good sources of protein are:
- chicken breast
- minced lean beef
- nuts (such as peanuts or almonds)
- pulses (lentils, peas, chickpeas, and beans), and fish
Glucose, obtained in the form of starchy carbohydrates, keeps your brain working at its best. Eat starchy carbohydrates little and often to avoid the seesaw effect of mood-swings.
Good food to eat for starchy carbohydrates are:
- wholemeal pasta
- wholemeal bread
Healthy and unhealthy fat deserve an article of their own, and this will be coming soon. Here I’ll keep it simple.
- Fast food
- Cakes and biscuits
- Palm oil
- Condensed milk
- Full fat milk, cream and ice cream
- Fatty meat
- Butter or ghee
- Oils – sunflower, soybean, corn
- Cold-water fish
- Oils – rapeseed, olive, peanut, sesame
- Nuts – almonds, peanuts, brazils
If you can follow a healthy diet it will help, I know from experience. And I can definitely feel the difference now I’ve upped my daily intake of water. I’m not promising huge changes, but you will feel gradual, subtle differences. It’s true – feel well and you will feel happier.
Future articles will cover food and drink in more depth. I’ll also suggest exercises and activities that I find helpful. And you’ll be able to follow my recipes as I go from lovely but rather unhealthy food to nourishing, uplifting and delicious alternatives.
You might also find my article Strawberry, Blueberry and Redcurrant Smoothie Recipe, a nutritious and fragrant drink.
If you feel you’re looking better, it will lift your mood.