You are what you eat, and believe it or not, that applies to your moods as much as your physical health. So a diet for depression makes sense. We now know that food and mood are connected in more ways than we ever thought, thanks to an expanding body of research in this area. Many people with common mood disorders like depression and anxiety report weight gain, night cravings, and binging. Sometimes these disordered eating patterns are related as much to blood sugar dysregulation or to the side effects of antidepressants as they are to the mood disorder.
Whatever the cause, the latest research indicates people suffering from depression and anxiety often have a higher risk of metabolic syndrome because of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Metabolic syndrome is the cluster of conditions that greatly increases your risk for diabetes and heart disease. It’s associated with weight gain around the mid-section, blood sugar dysregulation, cholesterol abnormalities (in particular high triglycerides and low HDL), and high blood pressure. An eating program called the Food for Mood Diet was designed specifically as a diet for depression and metabolic syndrome treatment simultaneously. If you want to rid yourself of your mood issues AND your underlying metabolic disease, you can benefit tremendously from following guidelines for a diet for depression like the Food for Mood Diet principles.
What is the Food for Mood Diet?
The Food for Mood Diet was originally created about five years ago by naturopathic physician Millie Lytle, ND, MPH, as part of two preliminary studies at the START Clinic for Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Toronto, Canada. The principles of the diet for depression were delivered in a 2 hour group setting over a 12 week period to patients with mild to moderate depression (and at least one symptom of the metabolic syndrome). Along with learning how to apply the nutritional principles of the Food for Mood Diet for depression to their daily food intake, the patients were also counseled using the technique of cognitive behavioral therapy on how to control cravings, avoid binge eating, and stop emotional eating.
The Food for Mood Diet for depression was designed based on the latest research showing positive links between mood and blood sugar regulation as well as the consumption of healthy fats, adequate protein, complex carbohydrates and fiber. The diet is also based on the latest negative research showing the detrimental effects of sugar and simple carbohydrates on mood and energy levels. Sugar and simple carbohydrate consumption is linked with depression while fiber is linked with satiety and better mood. Other principles emphasize the fact that greens are the most nutrient dense of all foods and the fact that good fats like omega 3’s (from fish) and certain omega 6’s (from raw nuts) are filling and reduce cholesterol. Overall, this diet for depression and other mood disorders helps mitigate the damaging body-wide cascade that links stress with blood sugar and insulin dysregulation, appetite hormone dysregulation, carb cravings, neurotransmitter imbalances, and lack of energy.
The 8 basic principles of the Food for Mood Diet for Depression are:
- Eat every 3-4 hours.
- Avoid meals of only carbohydrates.
- Remember this: fiber is filling; sugar is killing.
- Eat vegetables. No matter what else you eat, never skip the greens.
- Make the best choice you can right now. But don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes.
- Start a meal with soup or salad.
- Eat protein at every meal and snack. Include fermented foods, probiotics, and algae.
- Eat sources of omega-3 and other healthy fats.
With improved nutritional knowledge and coping mechanisms you can learn to better handle the food and weight issues that often accompany mood disorders. The Food for Mood Diet for depression is just one of many recent diet plans developed to take advantage of all the recent research linking food and mood. In addition to modifying your diet for depression treatment, there are many natural treatments you can utilize to treat your mood disorder. For more information on diet and other natural ways to improve your mood, see our Comprehensive Guide on Natural Remedies for Depression: Beating Depression Without Drugs.