Do you often feel depressed, saddened, have a lack of interest or often feel emptiness? Do these feelings result in you turning to food to fill that void? Unfortunately, emotional eating doesn’t fix emotional problems. Instead of filling your emotional needs, you’re only filling up your stomach. Eating may temporarily make you feel better but can quickly add to your problems by leaving you feeling guilty from the unnecessary calories that were consumed.
Depression is a disorder that can cause you to have trouble doing daily activities and can also make you feel as if life isn’t worth living. Depression can make you think and behave in ways unimaginable. Struggling with depression can also affect your eating habits. It can cause you to be too tired to prepare a healthy balanced meal or can cause emotional hunger which leads you to overeat and crave comfort foods.
These cravings include carbohydrates, fatty foods and sweets that will give you a momentary rush. Emotional eating can often times result in you consuming an entire bag of chips or a whole carton of ice cream without being mindful, leaving you feeling even more depressed and unsatisfied.
Depression can also cause you to lose your appetite which will cause you to unintentionally lose too much weight which can be just as dangerous. If you need help lifting your spirits, step out of your comfort zone, stop eating what’s easily assessable and try adding the following foods to your diet to give you that boost you need:
Folate Foods. Adding folate foods such as dark green vegetables like broccoli and spinach or dried legumes like lentils, beans, chickpeas and even avocados, hazelnuts and orange juice can help lower your chances of depression.
Omega-3 Foods. Eating Omega-3 fats has been proven to help mood disorders like depression. Studies have shown that people suffering from depression are more likely to be low on Omega-3 fats so adding halibut, salmon, fresh tuna, soy, eggs, yogurt, oatmeal and walnuts can be very helpful.
Tryptophan-Filled Foods. Tryptophan is an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical that helps to relay messages from one area of the brain to another and regulates hunger and feelings of happiness. Adding tryptophan foods such as turkey, chicken and beef to your daily intake can help improve your serotonin production.
Foods Rich in Zinc. Foods like oysters, whole grains and a lean cut of beef have all been proven to be helpful.
Overall, when you’re physically strong, relaxed, and well rested, you’re better able to handle the curveballs that life inevitably throws your way. Exercise, sleep, and other healthy lifestyle habits will help you get through difficult times without emotional eating.
Dr. Donald Henderson is Medical Director of Encore Wellness & Weight Loss and has a private practice specializing in Gastroenterology and Internal Medicine in Los Angeles, CA.