Our diet drives our mental health. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is ran by pharmaceutical company marketing teams that try to lead us astray. But the fact is, the Standard American Diet has reeked havoc on our bodies. Most of us who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s were attached to a processed food feeding tube. We really didn’t know any better at all.
When I got older, I was a moody teenager. That’s normal, of course, to an extent, but I had no idea that maybe my diet was contributing the most to my mood. But it was. I went to Doctors for anxiety in my 20’s, yet none mentioned that diet could be a cause.
As it stands, here are three main causes of mood changes (depression, anxiety) for me.
Blood Sugar: Blood Sugar ebbs and flows really aren’t given enough credit for how they can alter your mood. Did you know that blood sugar has been linked to schizophrenia? Blood sugar could be the most vital part to your every day mental health. When I skip meals that involve complex carbs, such as vegetables, beans, brown rice, yams, etc., my mood heads south pretty fast. Keeping your blood sugar at a stable pace will help you remain focused, energized and feeling a lot more content with the world around you. This doesn’t mean you need to eat food all day long, this just means that when you choose to eat, choose balanced meals that are infused with complex carbs. Allow the complex carbs to give you a fuller feeling and slowly break down into glucose. This means no big peaks in blood sugar as well as no valleys.
Sugar and your addiction to it: Sugar addiction isn’t healthy (that’s not ground breaking), but it can be incredibly stressful. Being addicted to anything is stressful. When you overload on sugar, your body begins firing off hormones to deal with it. Hormones can cause stress in your body and mind. Check out this study from 2014, whereas 3663 people were tested for depression and their volume of sugar intake was measured. The people who ate high sugar diets were the most likely depressed.
The secondary portion is addiction. Addiction is stressful. Often times, we feel guilty for our inability to stop eating sugary foods. We want to say no to the piece of cake at night, but we give in, and that causes us stress and anger and depression. Learning to stop the cycle of this addiction is the best means of control. How does one do that? Stop eating it. Make it a few days. Your cravings will drop.
Caffeine: the friend or the foe? I don’t even like bringing this one up. People find the subject of caffeine polarizing. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Recent studies have shown that people who drink caffeine are less depressed. I never feel like those studies are well done, however. I think if you enjoy caffeine and you feel great, go with it. BUT, and this is a big BUT, if you are feeling down, anxious, unable to sleep, you should really consider getting rid of it.
I have my affairs with caffeine. I get it. But I can tell you with 100 percent confidence that I feel a lot better overall when I am not drinking it. For me, caffeine is great, that first moment you drink it. But coming down from it is tough. I feel edgy and hungry, or like I need a drink. That’s a super personal experience, of course.
At the end of the day, everyone has to find their own way. But more often than not, when speaking to people about their mood or their anxiety, people still pass over the diet aspect. People automatically look at other factors such as genetics, work-life relationship, marriage, bills, etc. And there is no doubt that much of that has to do with it, but it is unlikely the end all. Diet is a huge factor. What you put in your body (or don’t) can make or break how you deal with stressful encounters.
Pharmaceutical companies wash this under the rug with the singular purpose of keeping people turning primarily to medicinal treatments. They sell you on weight loss pills, SSRI pills for your depression, sleeping pills for the stressed nights. They have trained us. They have conditioned us. It is time to break the cycle, though. And we can do that by sharing more information.