This is the first in a series on best (and worst ) foods to help maintain your mental health. I usually gag at the sight of foodie articles, but I’m intrigued by the neurological benefits of certain foods. I need to know the answer to the Big Why behind the statement, "This is good for you." If you feel the same, then let’s begin a foodie journey that is more than a fad.
Let me begin with my foodie story.
I hate “good and bad” lists, especially when it comes to food. When I’m depressed, I dive for chocolate—any sweet will do. But about six years ago, I noticed that I was not only low energy, but low emotion. I was neither manic nor depressed. I was just draggy all the time and my life consisted of getting up in the morning, going to work and coming home to eat, watch a little TV and go to bed. Not a life.
The name for this condition in psychiatric circles is alexithymia (from the Greek meaning "having no words for emotions"). Yes, there’s really a name for feeling blah!
At this point, many people would have gone off their meds, run away from home or gotten a dog.
I decided to do something completely different.
First, I looked at my diet. Did I have any food allergies that were dragging me down? After taking a blood test, I learned that I had mild food allergies to corn, eggs and wheat. I cut them out cold. A year later, I was 10 pounds lighter and felt a greater clarity and brightness.
I was already walking 45 minutes, about five days a week. No changes needed there.
I joined a meditation group of Light Workers where we practiced visualization techniques that focused on moving chakra energies. This new technique really helped, and I began to rebuild my social network with the monthly meetings. At that time, I was interacted with a few family members and the clerks at the grocery store.
The third thing that I changed was my medication. My kidneys were affected by Lithium and I wanted to switch to something else. Of all the changes I made, this was the most challenging. It took six months to stabilize on Carbamazapine, an anti-seizure drug, and I was pretty foggy during the transition.
To recap, this is what I did to dramatically get out of the doldrums and into a more lively and engaged life:
1. Changed my diet by eliminating the foods that triggered a mild allergy and increasing "brain healthy" foods. The adage “what’s good for the heart is good for the brain” was my rule of thumb. In this foodie series, I’ve gathered specific information about brain food, neurology and how foods affect moods and energy levels.
2. Maintained my walking and exercise schedule. This is crucial for lifting spirits! If you are sluggish or depressed, moving is the best thing you can do.
3. Began a meditation that used chakra and color visualizations. I will be adding some of the basic meditations to my website this year as podcasts, so you can try them out and see how they work for you.
4. Switched to a different medication. I felt brighter and had greater clarity with Carbamazapine and was happy to bid Lithium, my savior of 25 years, a fond farewell.
During the next month (or two), I’ll be blogging about each brain food, its list of nutrients and how each nutrient affects your brain health. You will end up with a list of healthy foods and recipes. My real goal, however, is to be sure you enjoy lecture-free info.
In the words of Martha Beck: “Only eat foods you like to eat.”
I refuse to be a foodie and hope you will join me (and Calvin) in the rebellion! We will sneak in brownie recipes! Yes!