Does diet have an impact on our mental health?
Yes. Absolutely. You bet it does. The things we put into our body alter our biochemistry and definitely have an impact on how we think, and on how we feel emotionally.
I recently decided to stop buying ‘treats’ for myself. More specifically, I had decided not to buy CHOCOLATE ‘treats’. It was my New Year’s Resolutions for 2014, and unlike previous years, when I might have resolved to change my entire life overnight with the inevitable outcome of an epic fail, and the subsequent diminishing of my self-esteem, I simply chose something that I thought would stretch me, in a direction that I thought would benefit me, but without being so ridiculous that I could never achieve it.
If I’d resolved not to EAT any ‘treats’ I would not have lasted the first few days, when my habit of looking for them still lingered. But I only resolved not to BUY them, which meant I was still able to ‘indulge’ in other sweet food items if I wanted.
After a couple of days, however, I simply stopped looking for food unless I was hungry, and because I hadn’t bought myself any ‘treats’, I was feeding myself with more nutritional options and feeling much more satisfied.
It has been a month now and a few things have happened that I have found very interesting.
First thing I noticed was when I had 4-5 jersey caramels at about the 3 week mark, and woke up during the next couple of nights with terrible anxiety, and was very restless, so I know now for myself, without a doubt, that sugar impacts terribly on my emotions, and if I hadn’t minimised my exposure to it, I might not have realised just how much it was impacting.
Secondly, I used to think that stopping yourself from eating what you wanted was a form of deprivation, but I have come to realise it is a gift that you give to yourself, and that you are more, not less, because of it.
Thirdly, I have learned that the things I have always called ‘treats’ are in fact definitely NOT ‘treats’. Instead they are empty, calorie-laden, food-like substances that impact on our physical and emotional state of being in a very negative way. Eating processed snack foods is not ‘treating’ yourself. It is actually hurting yourself. Since when has it been a ‘treat’ to hurt ourselves?
Finally, I realised that ‘treating’ myself was serving two very important purposes. One purpose was to self-soothe and the other purpose was to reward myself. I am so glad I realise that because now that I have these new perceptions, I have new choices, and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the year goes.
If you are experiencing anxiety and / or depression and you are struggling to manage it, I challenge you to reduce your exposure to processed ‘treats’. See them for what they really are and make the decision to replace them with foods that nourish your body as well as your emotions.
If I can help in any way, you know where to find me.