In healing my depression, my diet was another “Aha!” moment. All the sugar and processed food wasn’t just making me physically ill, but it was also worsening my depression. Once I learned about the connection between food and mental health I knew I had to change my eating habits. This was definitely not an overnight change. Nachos, soda, ice cream, and cappuccino were just a few of my favorite comfort foods. It took me years to stop the addiction of junk food. Between the addicting properties of these foods and their availability at any corner store, my instant gratification was fully in control. But after a while of not eating these foods I could feel how much my energy improved and how I felt emotionally.
It was challenging and took a long time to create healthier habits, but I eventually gave up the daily dose of sodas and candy. You don’t have to give everything up, just abstain from the constant instant gratification and comfort of unhealthy food. I’m not saying you can never have another bowl of ice cream with cookies and caramel, but when you eat better you feel better. Instead I choose flavorful healthy foods. When I’m feeling unsettled and eat processed comfort food, my physical health actually causes me to start feeling depressed. My body is very clearly telling me that it does not like what I’m feed it.
What really helped me was switching to a vegetarian diet. I always felt a smidgen of guilt when eating meat because of my life long connection with animals, but learning about unethical practices in the meat industry pushed me to change my diet even more so. A vegetarian diet may not be best for you. However, if you decide to try not eating meat and have any health issues than please consult your doctor first and do your research into what is actually healthy for your body.
A perk of changing your diet is the new opportunities that show up. For me it has been in the form of farmers markets and activism. It’s a chance to accomplish four things that are important to me. I can support local. I can do what’s good for the environment. I can buy fresh healthy food free of all the hormones and chemicals present in most products at the grocery store. I can meet more like-minded people.
Movement is also important in healing from depression. I can see the difference in how I feel during times when I have limited exercise. I’m not getting an energy boost or endorphins during my more sedentary moments. My body feels more tired when I don’t move as often and this causes me to feel mentally drained. Everything we do is connected. Movement in the form of dance, yoga and walking has helped me feel good. It’s given me more love for my body and better physical health which is good for my mental health.
Instead of thinking of exercise as something you have to do, think of it as something you can enjoy. Try activities that inspire you and keep your interest. Dance, bicycle, practice yoga, walk, surf, swim, or hula hoop. If you want a real challenge, train for a 5k charity run. If you need accountability join a group or find a buddy.
Start where you’re comfortable. Don’t focus on making giant changes. Start with baby steps.
What can you change about your diet?
What movement or exercise feels good to you?
What would make your body feel good and your heart sing?
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