I often wonder how much influence the food we eat has on our state of mind. The idea of such foods as meat loaf and mashed potatoes that trigger warm and fuzzy memories seems harmless enough. However, such indulgenve could turn around and sabotage us through weight gain. What is your comfort level and what affects it? Is there some kind of food out there that has become a crutch to get you through a difficult time?
This question brings me to an examination of chocolate, often considered a mainstay of just about anyone’s arsenal of depression fighting foods. How many times do we see TV shows, movies and ads showing people in various walks of life indulging in their favorite form of chocolate to comfort themselves after a romantic breakup or some other depressing life challenge?
Ultimately, the question of comfort foods and their effect on depression must be focused on Major Depressive Disorder. For someone who is depressed because of a negative life incident that will pass, the occasional carton of ice cream might mean little more than an upset stomach later on. For those who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, can these same foods cause symptoms to worsen?
For as long as I can remember, reports I’ve heard regarding chocolate is that it can be soothing because it affects serotonin levels in a positive way, especially dark chocolate. However, other reports suggest that eating chocolate can have long term negative effects. It can help with a temporary lift in mood, but apparently those who eat more chocolate could have a tendency to be more depressed. If true, then those who suffer from Major Depressive Disorder might want to reconsider having moments of chocolate indulgence. While no food should be completely off limits, doing research and choosing your diet carefully is an important part of dealing with your illness.
Diabetics must manage their diet through the knowledge of what affects their blood glucose levels. Those at risk for heart disease must also approach their lifestyle with informed decisions in order to have the best quality of life. If you suffer from Major Depressive Disorder, your choices must follow the same mindset. Just because your illness isn’t immediately noticeable doesn’t mean that you can ignore what your body’s needs are. Some forms of depression are affected by brain chemistry while others involve environmental factors. Whatever the cause, successful treatments must include a healthy diet.
The bottom line when considering the idea of comfort food is that for many people food should not be used for comfort at all. Any initial good feelings can’t last, and results can be devastating. It’s important to remember that for almost anyone, heavy carbohydrates and starches can be detrimental if not downright deadly. We might be better off finding an activity that gives us the pleasure and comfort that will help keep our moods elevated and mental down time at a minimum.