Enter your email to get updates, tips and exercises to help you experience healing and transformation.
Diet and depression sometimes go together. You can use a diet for depression to feel better. Good quality protein, fats and carbohydrates in the right quantities support your brain chemistry, blood sugar and thyroid, all potential contributors to depression.
Eating a low-fat diet can contribute to depression in menopause, especially if your ancestors ate a lot of fish. Irish, Scottish, Welsh, some Native Americans and Scandinavians have higher requirements for Omega 3 fatty acids, and depression and alcoholism occurs in these groups when they don't consume enough healthy fat in their diet. Healthy fat is found in Cod Liver Oil, Coconut Oil, avocado, olives, and fish such as salmon.
Did you know that every cell in your body has a layer of fat around it? Did you know that your brain is 60% fat? Given these facts, how can you be healthy without eating enough good fat?
Evening Primrose Oil can help with depression if you are one of those women who cannot make GLA. See Menopause Evening Primrose Oil
Eating unhealthy fat such as trans fat or hydrogenated fat can contribute to depression in menopause. My herbal medicine teacher used to point to his plastic pens and say, “when you eat margarine this is what you're eating.” The process of making a trans fat and the process of making plastic are the same – the margarine just uses one less step.
Other unhealthy fats are found in vegetable oils – corn, canola, safflower, soy, cottonseed, etc. They become rancid very easily (but you won't smell it because the food processors deodorize the oil), and they contain Omega 6 fatty acids, which are okay in small amounts, but need to be balanced with Omega 3 fatty acids. In the American diet, the ratio is extremely out of balance, and contributes to inflammation and disrupted brain chemistry.
Soy is promoted heavily in this country as a health food, especially helpful for women going through menopause. There are two problems with this. First, unless soy is fermented, it is very difficult to digest, and will block mineral absorption. Most soy foods here are not fermented. Fermented soy sauce, tempeh and miso are fermented soy products. Soy milk and tofu are not. The second problem with soy it is can interfere with thyroid hormone production. Low thyroid and depression can go together.
Coffee intake has been associated with depression. Caffeine intake increases the need for vitamin B1, vitamin C, calcium, potassium and zinc. Since many of us are already deficient in one or more of these nutrients, drinking coffee will make the situation worse.
Sugar and white flour products can contribute to depression. Julia Ross, in her book, The Mood Cure, states that her clients routinely lose their menopausal depression when they give up sweets and white flour products (breads, cereals, pasta).
Sugar is easier to give up than you may think. It only takes a few days (3-10) to clear your system, and once it is out of your body, the cravings are gone as well. The hardest part about giving up sugar is that it is so much a part of our culture. But once you get clear about the negative effects it is having on your health, it will be easier to do.
I finally decided to do this, and I have gone 6 weeks so far (August 2010) without desserts or sweeteners. I am still getting it in processed foods, but it's not enough for me to worry about. When I want dessert I have frozen berries with a little cream. It's delicious and a great substitute for ice cream!
If you are wheat or gluten sensitive or intolerant and still eating these substances, this could be a cause of your depression. Remove wheat or all gluten containing foods from your diet for ten days, then reintroduce it one food at a time. You will quickly discover whether or not this is an issue for you. I found myself getting bloated and very uncomfortable after eating wheat products during peri menopause, and I have finally stopped eating them. I feel much, much better.
Low calorie diets cause your thyroid to slow down, and also inhibit serotonin production, which is your mood elevator. Adequate protein is required to make substances such as serotonin. You should be eating protein at least three times a day.
All of these substances have been associated with depression. MSG, in particular, is one to watch out for. It has many names and is disguised in many ways, so you will need to do some research to eliminate this substance. Or just don't eat processed foods, which I would do if I could, but most of us don't have the time required to make everything from scratch. I will tell you that the more you can do that, the better health you will have, and you will never want to go back to processed food because it is so unsatisfying in every way.
B vitamins can protect against depression. The best way to supplement B vitamins is with a high quality nutritional yeast, such as Frontier brand. If you have a lot of stress in your life, you will need even more B vitamins. For more information on vitamins and herbs for depression, see Depression Vitamins
There are many things you can do with your diet to help with menopause depression. If this seems overwhelming, start with adding or removing one food that will help you feel better. Once that has become a habit (it takes three weeks to form a new habit), then take another step. Before you know it, you will be eating in new healthy ways.