How Does Depression Influence Eating Habits?
Having depression leaks into every part of your life. It can influence your relationships with friends and family, impact your work, and even seriously alter your eating habits. In many people, a change in your appetite is one of the first indications of a depressive episode coming on.
Eating habits can be a touchy subject. Discussing weight and overall physical health is not something many people want to do. However, you are not the only person whose appetite is influenced by depression. In order to learn more about the link between the two, keep reading.
Depression and your diet
Believe it or not, your diet and depression are closely linked. Sometimes, the two are so intertwined that it is hard to tell which came first: your diet or depression. However, we do know that depression causes us to reach for familiar foods that may impact our overall health.
Eating as a self-soothing tool
Comfort food is comforting for a reason: it makes you feel better. Comforting foods like bread or sugary snacks actually release serotonin in the brain, the feel-good chemical. However, only using food as a self-soothing mechanism can feel uncomfortable for your body.
Not eating enough
Depression can also cause your appetite to completely disappear. Even if you do not want to eat, it does not mean you can stop altogether. Not eating can lead to too much weight loss in a short period of time and also have adverse health effects. Consider setting a schedule for meals and snacks so that you know when you should eat next.
Eating what is available
Depression can decrease our motivation in every way, and that impacts the kitchen as well. Even if you ordinarily enjoy cooking, the idea of making something, whether intricate or basic, sounds like a monumental task.
This may result in gaps in your diet that cause vitamin deficiencies. Sometimes what is easiest is not always the healthiest. Consider batch-cooking large meals that keep well, like soup, to last you through the week.
Combatting diet traps
You can take charge and begin to alter these eating habits by implementing some of the following:
Find other ways to bring joy: Even though eating comforting food can bring joy, it is important to look for things outside of consumption that make you happy. This is not to say you need to cut out foods you like, you can enjoy anything you want. It simply is a nudge to find additional self-soothing tools, such as journaling or being outside.
Pay attention to your hunger: Sometimes, you may find yourself snacking out of boredom rather than true hunger. If you feel the need to eat something, be sure to ask yourself if it is because you want instant gratification via a snack or because you are truly hungry. This helps you get in touch with what your body really needs and respond to it with love.
Eat new foods: Although one of the last things you would probably like to do in the midst of a depressive episode is branch out and try something new, introducing a different food into your diet once a week can make a huge difference. Find an exciting fruit, vegetable, or another snack to try out and see how you like it.
Reach out for help
Having difficulty with both depression and your relationship with food is a good reason to reach out to a mental health professional. A trained therapist can help you to identify your eating habits and come up with healthier coping mechanisms. Additionally, you will be able to receive tips for handling your depression.
I specialize in helping people through depression, and I would be happy to speak with you further to answer any questions you might have. Please reach out today to get started with a consultation.
For more information on getting therapy for depression, check out the link.