Hi my beautiful friends. I’ve been working on this segment for almost a month now. I started to get a lot of questions from all of you on what foods I use to manage my mood disorder and I thought that it was be great to write a three post segment on what foods are great, what to avoid and basically why these foods are so important. Whole foods play a large role in my journey with balancing my manic depressive illness and basically treating it in a more holistic way. There was a point that I reached in life where the medication wasn’t really helping, I was deep in denial of my own illness and basically need to venture out into a new mentality. I started to read a lot about my actual illness, I started to educate myself for the first time and really pay attention to my mind and emotions. The journey itself was crazy and beautiful. It’s an ongoing process, I am still very much aware that I still have a mood disorder.
I’ve been a little on the shy side when it comes to sharing this and it has a lot to do with, all bodies and minds are different and the reason I say this is because we all react different to different foods, exercises and supplements. Even with medication, some might work on me and some might work on you. When I was on the medication bubble a lot of the anti psychotics they gave me wouldn’t work so they had to make weird combinations that sadly at the end would only keep me “stable” for a few months and I was back on the rollercoaster that my manic depressive illness put me on. I now know that a lot of it had to do with certain situations I put myself in and also that I was really angry. When I was finally able to let go of all the anger, I was able to come to terms with my illness and not fight with it, if that makes any sense.
The reason I am sharing all of this is, babes pay attention to your body, I am not a doctor, I am just sharing the experiment I have put my mind and body through and that I continue to put through.
I am still learning more and more. This is a process, it’s a life long journey and there’s something incredible in that.
It helps me a lot to keep a food journal, I am really careful with how I keep it, I don’t want to trigger any negative feelings towards food. I still have a past with disordered eating and at the end of the day an addiction is an addiction. I don’t measure, I do try when I am making a recipe for you babes but in the general aspect of when I’m eating I just eat, mindfully until I am content. What I eat varies also with my mood, how active I am that day, what I need from myself that day, where I am in my cycle. I factor all of this in and it really does make a huge difference. So I highly recommend that you buy a journal or notebook and write down how everything you eat makes you feel, what you need to do that day and if it helped. Give it a few months this isn’t gonna happen overnight and you will be surprised with how amazing food is. How healing and magical is it.
WHAT YOU EAT REALLY DOES MATTER
Omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha- linolenic acid) are found in eggs, beef, poultry, flax seeds, chia, fatty fish like salmon, rainbow trout, sardines, tuna and more. It’s been proven that low levels of EPA and DHA are linked with depression, violent behavior, suicide, bipolar disorder, learning disabilities, emotional disorders and more. It has been proven that consuming lenta-3 fatty acids can be a non toxic, non harmful way to balance bipolar disorder, season affective disorder, postpartum depression and more.
I started taking fish oil every day to help with the mood swings that my bipolar disorder gives me. Studies show that taking fish oil helps over a long period of time. This was one of the first things I added to my daily routine when I left the medication bubble over three years ago. I didn’t see a result right away, probably six months in. I take my fish oil in the morning. I also focus on eating a lot of omega-3 rich foods throughout the day. LIKE my fat balls, in my smoothies, smoked salmon, salmon, I eat eggs probably every day. I keep that in mind a lot. ESPECIALLY on days that it might be gloomy I try to increase the amount of omega-3’s to feel better.
OMEGA-3 RICH FOODS
FISH// salmon, tuna, anchovies, cod liver oil, herring
SEEDS// flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds
NUTS// walnuts, pumpkin seeds
VEGGIES// spinach, brussel sprouts, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, most dark leafy greens are going to be higher in omega-3, winter squash, acorn squash, and pumpkins.
ANIMAL PROTEIN// eggs yolks, grass fed beef
PLANT BASED PROTEIN// mung beans, red lentils
**remember that you want to eat foods that are higher in omega-3 fats than omega-6 fats.
Magnesium is such an important nutrient and sadly a lot of us are deficient in it. Magnesium plays such a large roll in our biochemical imbalance. Low magnesium levels have been linked to muscle cramps, insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability, psychosis, headache, stress and more. Also remember that magnesium is an essential NMDA receptor ( N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor) when activated allows positive charged ions to flow through our cell membrane. NMDA receptor places a large roll in memory function and is affected by psychoactive drugs, alcohol, and more. Magnesium aka the chill pill stimulates GABA receptors (gamma-aminobutyric acid) which is a primary inhibitor neurotransmitter that can pause brain activity. So think of it as if GABA is low you are gonna be wound up and it’s gonna be tough to chill while if GABA is high you are more relaxed, not as anxious. If your GABA is low you can suffer from insomnia, hamster thoughts** (hello my manic side) panic attacks, IBS and more.
Basically babes magnesium is the chill dude nutrient out there.
**I call thoughts that are non stop, all over the place basically wound up like a hamster in a wheel, spinning, hamster thoughts.
MAGNESIUM RICH FOODS
VEGGIES// dark leafy greens like kale, swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, turnips and more.
NUTS + SEEDS// pumpkin seeds, squash seeds, sesame seeds, almonds, brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
WHOLE GRAINS// brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, peas
HEALTHY FATS// avocado aka my main squeeze in life
FRUITS// bananas ( I personally keep my consumption of bananas low, because they are high in sugar, even if it is natural sugars), figs
CACAO// dark chocolate, cacao nibs, raw cocoa powder
DAIRY// while I am lactose intolerant, I do drink/ eat kefir on a regular cause and it doesn’t upset my tummy. Goat cheese
PLANT BASED PROTEIN// black beans
I really love to make black bean brownies aka a tasty anti anxiety treat!
On top of eating high magnesium foods I also take natural calm every evening and right before my menstrual cycle hits I add magnesium supplement to my daily routine. I also take magnesium flake and add them to my bath. It keeps me feeling great, stress free and also helps with post workout recovery.
It has come to light in the last few years that there is a connection between low vitamin d and psychiatric illnesses particularly in depressive disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. If you think about it, it makes sense. We often link feeling sad, or down with darker, colder months. I remember that my doctor would amp up my anti depressants during the winter months when I lived in Boston to prevent any funkiness.
So it makes total sense to eat vitamin d rich foods. Oh and remember that vitamin d is a fat soluble vitamin that is different from other vitamins in our bodies. Most foods are poor sources when it comes to v-d. If you have darker skin, are eating low fat, taking roids or any weight loss meds it can make it so that you are prone to vitamin d deficiency. SO amp up. LIKE a lot.
GET YOUR VITAMIN D ON WITH
+ SUN seriously babes get your sun onnnnnn.
+ Cod liver oil
In addition to this, I also add a vitamin d supplement during the fall and winter months. I pay attention to how I’m doing though. I don’t want to send myself to the opposite side by trying to prevent depression.
I also try to squeeze in a morning walk, to get some sun on.! REALLY great.
DITCH THE PROCESSED SUGAR
Balancing your blood sugar plays such a large roll in your mood disorder or mood imbalance or with your chemical imbalance or whatever name you want to give it. Why I say whatever name you want to give it, is honestly because it depends how you look at it. Regardless there is a large connection between mood and blood sugar balance. If your blood sugar is all over the place your mood will most likely be all over the place.
A little back story on our brain and sugar, our brain requires a lot of fuel to make enough energy to function and when we are running low on fuel we will suffer. Take in consideration that our brain relies on mostly glucose or sugar for energy which is drawn from our blood, keep in mind that our brain does not store glucose or sugar and will only store small amounts of glycogen aka reserve glucose when it needs it when our blood sugar drops. Due to all of this our high demand for glucose has created a dependency on a steady supply of sugar from our blood so when they are too low or drop to quickly our brains suffer immediately.
SO what happens.. well we feel irritable, have trouble concentrating, now when you tend to suffer from a chemical imbalance it doesn’t just trigger irritability and lack of focus it triggers, depression, anxiety, OCD and insomnia. PLUS so much more.
Remember that in life anything that rises to quickly will fall just as fast. Taking this example when we over eat carbs that eventually turn into glucose that will spike up our blood sugar which will raise our serotonin and dopamine production and then just as fast they will fall because when you blood sugar spikes up it will spike back down.
Taking all of this into consideration it makes sense why our blood sugar plays such a large roll in our mental health. I took out all processed sugars when I started experimenting with food and seeing how it would impact my illness and noticed immediately that it did help with a lot. Then I started to cut down on my natural sugar intake, so I try to limit my fruit/date/honey/coconut sugar/ maple syrup intake to 2 servings a day. I also don’t like to consume them all at once because they will affect me in a up I go and then I crash type of situation.
Eat higher protein, higher healthy fats, and lower in natural sugar fruits and veggies and you will see a difference. Trust me the cravings will wear off after a few days.
Noradrenaline, serotonin and dopamine are three brain chemicals that are involved in mind and body functions. All three have been linked to psychiatric mood disorders, psychosis, schizophrenia and more.
Serotonin is linked with sleep, waking up, learning, eating, impulsive actions + decisions, if you are sexually active (like if you want to or not). If you think of all of these on their on own you won’t see anything but if you look closely you’ll notice that if you happen to suffer from bipolar or any mood disorder a lot of these daily activities are impacted by our mood and the medication they “use to treat” our mood disorder. So when you think of it low levels of serotonin can really impact us. Research has shown that bipolar patients have lower levels of serotonin.
Here is the thing though research has also shown that an excess of neurotransmitter can also occur during mania, so if you suffer from bipolar disorder you have to pay attention to this. There is more of an activity level when it comes to neurotransmitter in hypo mania and mania than in depression. If you suffer from more depression eat more of these serotonin rich foods, but pay attention to your sleep, because it can get you a little to “high”. Again listening to your body and mind is important.
Serotonin isn’t found in foods, and the only way to actually access it is through eating high in tryptophan but that can affect your blood sugar because in order for our bodies to absorb tryptophan to boost up your serotonin you need to eat high in carbs and that can start a chain of affect so I honestly recommend the following
+ exercise, sunshine as wells a a healthy gut bacteria also play in high levels of serotonin, which leads me to the following why having a healthy gut bacteria is so important. I’m gonna leave this one for part two. Oh and you can always check with your health care provider and talk about taking a serotonin supplement.
Okays babes, there you have it part one of what to eat to help treat your manic depressive illness, mood disorder or if you just want to balance your mood with food. Part two will come out next week and I will talk about the importance of gut health, vitamin B, limiting caffeine and how fiber has played a large role in my balancing my mood for with food.
I’m sure your going to notice that everything is is connected together that you need to take care of it all for it to properly work and also that most of the foods fall into all of the same categories. Coincidence, I think not. Remember bubs always talk to your doctor before experimenting with any supplants or a new diet. This has worked for me, and I am not a doctor. Please do not stop taking your medication and follow this as a way to treat yourself without talking to your doctor first!