Food, Anxiety and DepressionBy Dr. Margaret Paul
December 31, 2006
Many people don't notice that the food they eat affects how they feel. In this article, discover how anxiety and depression might be caused by the food you eat.
In our current society, there are many factors that can cause or contribute to anxiety and depression. Certainly money and work problems, relationship and family issues, as well as illness and loss of loved ones are major contributors to situational anxiety and depression. Also, how we feel about ourselves and treat ourselves, as well as unhealed past or present trauma, contribute greatly to how we feel. However, even in the worst of times, if we are treating ourselves with compassion instead of self-judgment, we may be able to manage big challenges without anxiety or depression. In addition, being able to turn to an inner source of spiritual guidance and comfort is vital to weathering the hard times.
Food is another major factor that greatly affects how we feel...
Most people don't really notice that what they put into their bodies affects how they feel. They might know that if they "sugar out" they may crash emotionally, or if they drink too much they will feel hung over, but they are often unaware of how other foods may be creating anxiety and depression, as well as many forms of illness.
In the many years that I've been a counselor, I have frequently encountered individuals whose anxiety and depression completely cleared up by tuning into how food was affecting them.
For example, Marnie discovered that dairy, wheat, vegetable oils such as safflower, sunflower, soy, corn or canola oil, and sugar kept her up at night. She would wake up at around 3:00 in the morning with intense anxiety, and would be tired and depressed the next day. By experimenting around and cutting out different foods, she discovered that she slept fine when she stopped eating dairy, wheat, and processed foods containing the vegetable oils and sugar. All her nighttime anxiety vanished and she was no longer tired and depressed.
Joel discovered that his sleeplessness and resulting depression was a direct result of caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate and soft drinks. He had not realized how much caffeine he was actually consuming until I suggested that he cut out all caffeine and see what happened to his sleep. After a week of headaches from caffeine withdrawal, he was sleeping soundly for the first time in years and no longer felt depressed.
Adrienne discovered that her feelings of anxiety and depression, that had been with her most of her life, disappeared after she started eating only organic foods. Her system was so sensitive to the pesticides and food additives in non-organic food that she could not eat them without feeling anxious and depressed.
Alex, who periodically struggled with depression, inadvertently discovered that drinking raw milk from an organic dairy had a completely different effect on him than pasteurized milk. He was visiting Los Angeles and went into a health food store where he discovered that he could buy raw dairy products (which are outlawed in most other states). He found that the raw milk gave him more energy and elevated his mood. He also found that, while he was lactose intolerant with pasteurized milk, he had no problems with raw milk. Now he owns a cow share and has access to milk, cheese and butter, with none of the depression he felt with pasteurized dairy.
Over and over again my clients, who have chosen to tune into how food was affecting them, have discovered how much their feelings were being affected by food. Many of my clients have learned that even a little sugar or processed foods with vegetable oils brings them down. Sugar and vegetable oils consume so many vital nutrients as the body attempts to process it, and has such a disasterous effect on cells, that they can actually be considered poisons.
Two hundred years ago, when people naturally ate non-processed and organically grown food, they were getting all the nutrients they needed.
Now, most fruits, vegetables and grains are being grown on devitalized soil and over-processed on top of it. Cows and sheep that were once grass fed are being fed pesticide-sprayed grains and given hormones to fatten them up. As a result, much of our food not only contains little nutrients, but has many toxins as well. Without the vitamins, minerals, and many other factors that natural, organic and grass-fed food contains, many people suffer deficiencies that can cause anxiety and depression, as well a many other illnesses.
When I discovered that the fat of raw organic dairy products, especially butter, contains natural anti-inflammatory nutrients, I wondered if the huge rise in arthritis, asthma, and other inflammatory conditions is related to the pasteurizing of milk. Any inflammatory condition can also contribute to anxiety and depression.
Food is certainly a major factor in the rise of anxiety, depression and illness. Only you can do something about this by learning how you are being affected by the foods you eat. Bringing a devoted Inner Bonding practice into your life will help you access the desire and the inner discipline necessary to consistently eat well.
Join Dr. Margaret Paul for her 30-Day at-home Course: "Love Yourself: An Inner Bonding Experience to Heal Anxiety, Depression, Shame, Addictions and Relationships."
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Ask yourself 100 times today, "What is in my highest good right now?" In this moment, do you need to work, exercise or rest? Do you need to eat or stop eating? Do you need to offer caring or support to someone? Do you need to speak up for yourself with someone? Asking what is in your highest good will keep you connected with Spirit and on track in taking loving action for yourself and with others.
By Dr. Margaret Paul