If you want to learn how to diet for depression you need to realize up front that a diet will not be able to cure your depression. If you’re eating the right foods they can help with your overall treatment. Depression is a serious illness that affects approximately 15 million Americans every year according to PBS. While therapy is generally recommended here are a few dieting tips to keep in mind that may help.
- Eat Nutrient Dense Foods. The basic nutrients our bodies need to function at a high level include protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. Foods that contain nutrients include fruits, vegetables, meat, oils and nuts. Eating healthy fats is important and it is recommended to stay away from saturated fats and trans fats. Healthy fats come from things like nuts and olive oil.
- Don't Leave Out Antioxidants. Antioxidants help to fight the destructive properties of free radicals which are produced by our bodies during normal bodily functions. There is no way to completely get rid of or prevent free radicals but eating a diet rich in antioxidants such as beta carotine, vitamin C and vitamin E can help. A diet for depression should include carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, broccoli, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruit, oranges, vegetable oils and margarine.
- Be Smart About Carbs. Carbohydrates can be directly linked to mood because consumption of carbs such as those found in pastas and breads increase the levels of serotonin. When serotonin levels are elevated it produces a calming effect and helps prevent anxiety. The best carbohydrates for a diet for depression include whole wheat breads, pastas and cereals, vegetables, legumes and fruits. Sugary carbohydrates do not produce the same effect and should be avoided. These include cookies, cakes, doughnuts and other sugary, starchy foods.
- Vitamin D is Essential. Vitamin D cannot be overlooked when it comes to thinking about a diet for depression because it also increases serotonin levels in the brain. Vitamin D is used to help those suffering from seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) and it's recommended to take 600 IU per day through the consumption of food.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. There have been studies that have concluded that those who don't have enough omega-3 fatty acids in their diet are more likely to suffer from depression. Likewise, those who eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids regularly are less prone to depression. Foods containing omega-3's include many different types of fish including salmon and mackerel, nuts, canola oil and flaxseed.
- Consume Plenty of Protein. Protein helps our bodies stay alert and it's also important for keeping bones and muscles strong. Good protein sources include tuna, lean meats such as chicken or turkey because they contain tyrosine which is an amino acid that helps to boost certain brain chemicals. It is recommended to eat a serving of protein with every meal for best results.
While it is helpful to know how to diet for depression it also helps to avoid the use of drugs and alcohol and to also maintain a healthy weight. If you follow these dieting guidelines you'll have no problem being within a healthy weight range.