There's a notion that I've discovered while working with clients. And it's something that people seem to believe to be true. My mental health has nothing to do with what I eat. Now think about that. Food, one thing. My brain, another thing.
Well that ain't true, baby.
Let's break it down.
The foods you eat enter the body and are broken down into smaller parts called macronutrients (proteins, carbohydrates and fats) and micronutrients, more commonly known as vitamins and minerals. These smaller pieces can then be absorbed by the body to be used as fuel and raw building materials, to make new cells, to heal wound, etc.
The physical part is pretty straightforward. It's widely accepted that you can't run a marathon in good time if you don't have enough of the right fuel in your body. You know you can't do an 8 hour hike without a meal and a bunch of snacks (trailmiiiiix, whaddup!). You can tell when your physical body is slowing down because you haven't eaten enough in a day. Basically the correlation between a malfunctioning body and food is pretty apparent to most. It makes itself undeniably known.
The other side to this whole food equation that seems to be overlooked is that your brain uses the same fuel and building blocks too. There are occasions when you get sleepy or 'hangry' (hungry/angry) that you might notice that your brain needs some snacks too. But what about mood swings, anxiety or depression? All too often these are quickly diagnosed as chemical imbalances that need fixin'...with more chemicals. Often folks are handed these prescriptions to via walk-in clinics and through trial and error pill fixes. It's no fun to be depressed or anxious or unreasonably moody. It's also no fun to try-a-pill, kick-a-pill, try-a-pill, kick-a-pill trough the anti-depressant cycle that is trying to find the right medicine. It also leaves you feeling like you have no control.
So here is some food for thought (pun innnnntended. yes.):
Your brain chemicals may indeed be out of whack, but those chemicals are made up of food. The food that you eat, that breaks down into macro and micronutrients is what builds the chemicals that make your brain function and function properly. If you aren't getting enough nutrient dense foods, that break down in to the right macro/micronutrients in the right amounts, then your chems won't be able to balance. Think of it like suddenly having one of your legs cut off and trying to constantly balance yourself on one leg when you used to have two. Your brain is feeling the same way. Without all the building blocks it needs to create all the legs it needs to stand on, it's constantly flailing around trying to stay upright. You'd be pissed off, depressed, anxious and road-rage-y too if you couldn't keep your body balanced. (ohhhhh wait...that's totally what's happening.)
What I'm throwing down is...
You just might have more control in your hands than you think. Your diet is a major player in your everyday, run-of-the-mill I-get-to-pick-whatever-I-want-party. Everyday you get to choose a new meal, a new snack, a new plan. You get to choose to eat more foods that make your brain and body feel good. And not just for the hot minute your swoon over Reese's Pieces lasts but for the long term. So that you have more good days than bad days, more peaks than valleys. You can choose to eat foods that stabilize your moods, that build receptor sites for serotonin and that help you sleep. That stuff's cool.
Though not every mood disorder can be softened with just the right nutrition and some will always need to utilize a prescription sidekick, we all still have some control over our mood via our choices of chow.
If you would like to learn more about nutrition for mood balancing reach out, I'd love to hear from you.