Friday, May 7, 2010

Anxiety, Depression and Nutrition

What you eat can play a big role in mood. I ask all my neurofeedback clients about their nutrition and often hear about eating habits that may be contributing to their depression and anxiety.

Poor nutrition can also slow down their progress with neurofeedback. Often, they need information and guidance about the ways they can feel better by feeding their brains well. The nutritionist I refer them to is Barbara Mendez. I especially like the way she starts people off with a manageable amount of change and educates them about how it makes a difference to their bodies, including their brain.

I thought it would be helpful to post some of that information here, so I asked Barbara to be a "guest poster."  Here's what she wrote for us:
Recent British research showed that a diet that is high in processed and refined foods can lead to anxiety and depression. This is a conundrum for those afflicted by either condition. While many stressed out, anxious people feel drawn to soothe themselves with cookies and cakes that offer immediate relief, a short time later they are left feeling more depressed and anxious than before.
What do they do? How can they help themselves feel better without running to the doctor for a prescription for Prozac and Xanax? The answer is through diet. Foods that restore serotonin balance are available in every farm stand and grocery store, and it is really not that hard to do.
Eliminate Sugar

The reason that sugar helps to calm you down is that the insulin rush that accompanies sugar consumption floods out competing amino acids and allows tryptophan, the precursor to serotonin, to win the absorption race. While sugar may give you immediate relief from stress and anxiety because of the intense flood of serotonin that it unleashes, anything that goes up that high must come down and when it does it usually crashes.

When you self medicate with sugar you are setting yourself up to feel depressed, anxious and sad in a vicious, ever changing cycle. It will feel hard to get a handle on your emotions and then as your waistline expands from the extra calories and insulin rush, this will add to your already compromised mood.

Eliminating sugar will allow you to feel steady, balanced, calm and happy. You will find that while the external factors are the same, and nothing at work or at home has changed, your ability to deal with it all has. For some suggestions on how to eliminate sugar from your diet, check out my blog.
Barbara Mendez, R.Ph. M.S. 
I rarely eat sugar myself, and I know personally the difference that change can make. It's possible to do this and still get great enjoyment from what you're eating. For more information about Barbara and her services, visit her website, Barbara Mendez Nutrition.

Neurofeedback also makes it much easier for most people to do what's good for them and not do what isn't.  People report back to me things like, "Now I know when I'm full," and "I could tell I really didn't want that second glass of wine, so I didn't have it." Making these kinds of changes can feel right and easy.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

1 comment:

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