Bad Food, Bad Mood: Getting Back on Track

Finally, I’m back! Iā€™ve been in a funk lately and I know I really need to get back on track. I was feeling down, tired and moody, probably because of all the junk I’ve been eating. It’s a vicious cycle. What I eat makes me tired, and when I’m tired, I go for what’s convenient (and probably not so healthy), and on and on it goes.

I suppose itā€™s all part of the journey. There are triumphs and there are struggles. Blah blah blah. So I’m acknowledging this problem and correcting it. Now.

I’ve noticed that I’ve been moodier than usual and very irritable, and I know it’s because of the type of nutrition I’m providing my body. I am a believer that there is a major link between what you put in your body and how it affects your mental health. I believe nutrition is the nature’s medicine. But you have to care and you have to have control. And you have to care TO have control. It’s a constant effort with no time limit.

Ever since I returned from my travels, Iā€™ve pretty much fallen off the wagon with my diet. Coming back after a couple of weeks, I feel out of my element and disoriented for a while. It takes a bit for me to get back to normal. Getting over jet lag is a major drag in itself, but I also came home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes and to a messy apartment. The fridge was empty with a few containers of old food. I just don’t have the energy to get the laundry done, go grocery shopping, and prep food for the week. Knowing I have all these things to do, I want to do it even less. I felt like I needed another vacation. Sad, I know. I suck at being an adult. Anyways, I felt off for a while. As a result, I don’t prep as well as I should and I go to work with no lunch and wrinkly clothes. I try to be easier on myself during this adjustment period, maybe too easy, and allow myself to buy breakfast and lunch, and maybe some snacks from the vending machine. It’s a very slippery slope. And before I know it, a couple of weeks has gone by and nothing has really changed… And enough is enough. So it’s time to get back to it.

Iā€™ve been struggling to get back the motivation and determination.Ā It does not help thatĀ it’s getting colder and all I want to do is cuddle up on the couch with a big bowl of candy and watch Hocus Pocus. I do like the cold to an extent, but it definitely does not help with getting back the motivation to go to the gym.

So instead, my focus goes to getting back to eating healthy. I’ll work in the gym later. I started cutting back on sugar yesterday. It’sĀ ridiculous how much of a difference it makes with myĀ hunger and cravingsĀ whenĀ I choose not to eat white starches and sugary junk.

Yesterday was only the second day, but I could feel that my cravings for junk had diminished significantly. I had a smaller craving, but it was much easier to handle. I didn’t feel the need to snack so much. I was satisfied with my lunch of curry chicken with vegetables.Ā I alsoĀ did notĀ have the usual mid-afternoon crash.

There was a work thing today and I may have allowed myself to indulge in a cupcake…, but I made a pretty healthy dinner: a taco salad with ground beef, pico de gallo, guacomole, beans, cheese, sour cream, and lettuce. I don’t think I could ever cut out dairy but I can do without the rice. Very delicious and satisfying.

After going through this cycle again, I realize how detrimental emotional eating can be, and how badly it still affects me. Once I allow food to provide me comfort, it’sĀ difficult to breakĀ up this unhealthy relationship. But I need to remember how I feel when I put the right things in my body. I feel better and I feel in control, and even a little more confident because I am doing something that is good for me. The losing weight part is not so bad either.

And so the journey continues…

To keep the body in good health is a duty… Otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.Ā -Buddha

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Surviving Life with Depression: How I Manage

There is such a stigma associated with depression or any type of mental health issue. I’m always wary about talking about my depression because I almost feel ashamed of myself. For some reason I feel like it’s my fault I feel this way. But I know better.

In an effort to learn to love myself and be okay with the person I’ve become, I’m going to be honest with myself and embrace everything that makes me me. Yes, I have major depressive disorder. I’m pretty sure I’ve had it since I was 15, but I wasn’t clinically diagnosed until I was 23. I had always made excuses for it, thinking it was me being a teenager or me just being too weak and lazy to deal with life. But it got to be too much and I finally got help for it.

I’ve had therapy, take medication, and just learned how to live with it. I hope one day to become strong enough to overcome it. I know a big part of this will be to develop the courage to live the life I want.

I also believe that what I choose to put into my body has an effect on my mental health, which is one of the reasons why I’m working on becoming healthier person. I believe a good healthy diet can be a great antidepressant.

I don’t know if my depression is something that will ever completely go away. The brain is still such a mystery and there’s still so much we don’t know.

Over the years, I’ve learned how to manage my depression using various tips. There are still tough days where I just want to stay in bed and can’t muster up any energy to do anything productive. But I’ve realized there are things I can do to make the impact of it not so intense.

  1. Feel through your emotions. I realize that sometimes I try to suppress my emotions because I never learned how to deal with pain in a normal way. But I eventually learned that it’s okay to feel pain and it’s a totally normal part of life. It’s also okay to not be happy all the time. You can feel whatever way you want. We all need to learn how to manage our feelings in a normal, non-destructive way.
  2. Change your perspective. Sometimes a shocking eye opener can really kick me out of my funk. Things could always be so much worse. That isn’t to minimize your depression, but sometimes the distraction can help. It may also give you the push you need to do something productive.
  3. Watch an inspiring documentary. Watching other people overcome hardships is always a mood lifter for me. One of my favorite documentaries is Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. There was an extremely overweight trucker with an autoimmune condition who overcame all odds; the lifestyle changes he made caused his disease to go into remission. Inspiring stuff.
  4. Run or lift. I know that when you’re in an especially depressed state, exercise is the absolute last thing you want to do. But if you are able to get over the hump and get some blood pumping, the short distraction can be helpful. And if you go at it hard enough to get the endorphins to kick in, then more power to you! I always feel better after a work out, if I can just get myself to go!
  5. Take a mental health day. Depression is an actual medical condition. Sick days are abused, but if you can barely crawl out of bed, it might be a good idea to take a day for your mental state. Go back to work when you can be productive.
  6. Write it out. Journaling (or blogging) is a great outlet if that’s your thing. It can be very therapeutic.
  7. Embrace your creative side. One of my hobbies is painting. If I’m in a mood, it feels good to touch a brush to paper and just let go. I also like to enjoy a glass of wine while I’m at it.
  8. Use visualization techniques. I first learned about this after reading The Secret. It actually does help. If you visualize what you want to happen, it can have a very positive effect on your mental state.
  9. Don’t be hard on yourself. It seems that whenever I’m depressed, I seem to be the meanest to myself. But its crucial to be kindest to yourself at this point. Comfort yourself as if you were comforting your best friend.
  10. Be grateful. Even if you feel shitty, just tell yourself what you are thankful for in your life. Just repeat it over and over.
  11. Get outside. Sometimes just seeing the beauty of nature can help soften the rough edges of life. It’s also good for you to get some vitamin D. I like to take a walk in a quiet neighborhood and look at houses to see what I like and don’t like. It’s actually very calming and kind of fun.
  12. Eat healthy. I do notice that when I’m eating refined carbs and processed food, I am more likely to have episodes. As opposed to when I eat healthy, my mood tends to be more stable.
  13. Get out of your comfort zone. One of my issues is that it’s really hard for me to want to do anything. My interest level is just nonexistent. But if I make myself do it anyway, often times I’m glad I did it. Plus it’s always great to experience new things and make new memories.
  14. Laugh your ass off. You ever feel so depressed that you think the feeling will never go away? That is until you see a really funny or cute video on FB or YouTube, and you just burst out laughing? I dare you not to laugh! Those are the best laughs, when you least expect to.
  15. Just remember, no matter how you feel, it will pass. I try to remember that whenever I’m feeling particularly horrible – it’s never a permanent thing and if I just wait it out, it will get better.

 

I have been clinically diagnosed with major depressive disorder and manage it everyday using the above tips. I am not a licensed mental health professional. I am only sharing the things that have helped me, and maybe will help others. But I realize what works for me does not work for everyone.