Comfort foods or soul foods… whatever you want to call it. I’m sure some of us (yes, including me) have a particular food that somehow calms us when faced with some sort of a stressful situation or when simply just having a bad day. I myself would find comfort eating potato chips dipped in ice cream whenever I’m in a very low mood, and for some reason (although ‘the’ problem is still there) after a while I’m okay again and more ready to face whatever it is that I have to take care of. I’m sure many of you can relate.
Actually, it’s called emotional eating. It’s a person’s way of dealing with emotions by eating something that they love to compensate for the unwanted low feeling. But the problem is most comfort foods are mostly sugary foods which can have an unwanted effect on our mental health.
How so? The calmness that we feel is actually caused by a neurotransmitter called serotonin. Low serotonin level makes a person ruffled, as in the case of a person with bipolar disorder. An intake of carbohydrate rich food is recommended in this situation to be able to produce tryptophan, a substance that converts into serotonin, that changes the person’s mood (yes, that’s why). However, the instant change when frequently experienced can actually mess with our brain’s natural chemistry.
The American Academy of Neurology conducted a research on the effects of drinking sweetened beverages with depression. The study showed that people who consumed too much sweetened beverages (sodas and fruit juices) are more likely to suffer from depression than those who do not. What’s more surprising is that the percentage is even higher for those people who opted for diet or sugar-free sodas and juices and teas compared to those who would take regular drinks.
If you want to counter that effect then maybe it’s time that you turn to healthier carbohydrate fix whenever you feel down. Fruit and vegetables are still the best option if you feel you need some sugar to boost your mood without affecting your mental health.
There are a number of studies that shows Mediterranean diet is best for people with depression. Mainly composed of nuts, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, legumes, fish and some poultry products, Mediterranean diet is said to be able to improve the well-being and cognitive function of a depressed person. It’s because of its high omega-3, antioxidants, fatty acids, Resveratrol and vitamin E content that causes the improvement.
If you want you can even try taking some vitamin supplements. Experts have long considered adding mineral and vitamin supplements to patients with depression and anxiety since there are already studies that have proven that it can help relieve depression and anxiety attacks.