×

Coping with emotional bingeing: The nutritious way out of mental health issues

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

When 23-year-old Kamala (name changed) came in to meet me, sugar had become a major soother for her. She was indulging in what many call ‘emotional bingeing’ – eating your way out of emotional turmoil. In the months since she had been diagnosed with depression, Kamala found that at her lowest moments, comfort foods like biscuits or cola seemed a big help. But she also found that her moods fluctuated wildly as she came off the sugar highs.

It was only when we gradually changed her diet to include a variety of healthy foods, that she found her moods starting to stabilize. Over time, she realised that she didn’t suffer those drastic mood swings anymore and was much better able to manage the symptoms of her depression.

For many women like Kamala, recent research into diet and mental health is an important sign of hope on the horizon. Studies show that healthy eating can have a significant impact on mental health conditions like anxiety and depression, significantly helping to control the effects of such mood disorders.

So, what should you eat, and what should you not?

1. Stay away from sugar

Skin Care

One consistent finding is that high sugar diets can increase the severity of symptoms of anxiety and depression because of the variations of high blood sugar followed by a crash. Sugar is also linked with chronic inflammation, which impacts the immune system and the brain, among other systems in the body. Such inflammation too bears a strong link with many psychological conditions.

High sugar diets are particularly problematic when such foods become soothing mechanisms. While they may make you feel better in the short term, they do not help in the long term. Portion control is also difficult in such cases, further feeding into bingeing habits.

2. Reduce carbs and fat, include more protein

While sugar is most problematic, people with mental health concerns can also benefit from reducing the carb and fat components of their meals, and increasing the protein content. After all, dietary proteins help regulate blood sugar better as they are digested more gradually than carbs and fat. What's more, dietary proteins provide the amino acids that contribute to the building of neurotransmitters. Low levels of many of these neurotransmitters are strongly linked to the development of various mental health conditions.

If you are a vegetarian, then your best source of protein is from dals.

3. Have a colourful plate of fruits and vegetables

More recently, a few studies have found that following traditional eating patterns, like the Mediterranean diet, that incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables can reduce clinical levels of depression, though more evidence is needed on this front. Experts believe that this linkage makes sense because of the discovery that the neurotransmitter serotonin, which regulates sleep, appetite, mood and pain, is produced in the gut. This process is impacted by the intestinal microbiome, the collection of millions of microbes in the gut. Healthy diets rich in fruits, vegetables, seafood, lean meats and dairy help good bacteria thrive in the intestine, significantly affecting mental health.

4. Don’t consume junk food

Skin Care

The more we invest in packed, processed and junk foods, the more trouble we put ourselves into. In my nutrition audits, I see that this is what most of our refrigerators are full of. Processed foods tend to have hidden preservatives and other ingredients which, at best, are of no use to our health, and at worst, damaging for our health.

Shifting to a healthy diet means building slowly towards habits that can be maintained. When we work with patients we start slowly. We find out what they like and slowly help them find healthier alternatives. We also ask them to get involved in picking and selecting their foods. Normally, the family members keep them out of the shopping process. But we ask patients to go out and pick out foods they like. This gives them a sense of involvement and control, which prompts them to eat healthier.

Making the shift to healthier diets also requires plenty of support from families and others in the immediate environment. While we can prescribe a very healthy diet, it won’t work if the person does not have support from others in sticking to it.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Related Products

Diet, exercise and sunlight: Three factors women shouldn’t ignore for good bone health

Dr. Dharini Krishnan

Dr. Dharini Krishnan
11 January 2021

This article is authored by Dr. Dharini Krishnan, an award-winning Consultant Dietitian, she believes that for a healthy body and mind, we must combine modern medicine with native Indian practices which are proven to benefit us.

Barring a significant injury or fracture, we rarely tend to think about bone health. Yet, for women, particularly those who are middle-aged or older, this is a vital concern because of the risk of osteoporosis.

In 2013, it was estimated that there were 50 million Indians who were osteoporotic or having low bone mass. Some studies have found that the prevalence of osteoporosis could be as high as 42.5% in women over the age of 50.

Osteoporosis and health complications

Eat Breakfast

Osteoporosis comes from the Latin for “porous bone”, and is a condition where bone tissue loses its density, and becomes weaker and more fragile. Such bones are easily susceptible to breaks, resulting in pain, disability and loss of functionality in everyday life.

Bones, which form the primary supporting framework of the body, grow from birth till our early twenties, which is the period of peak bone mass. Bone is an active tissue that undergoes regular replacement in conditions of health.

In osteoporosis, however, bone formation is outpaced by bone loss, leading to porosity or thinness of bone tissue and brittle bones. Such bones could easily be fractured even in the absence of significant trauma. Such fractures tend to reduce mobility and lead to increased hospitalization and dependence on others.

Why osteoporosis affects women more

Women are particular at risk for osteoporosis because they have lesser bone mass to start with. The geometry and structure of bone have also been increasingly recognized as important risk factors for fracture.

The risk of osteoporosis significantly rises during menopause because of the hormonal changes women undergo at the time. This is because estrogen plays a significant role in maintaining bone health, and the secretion of this hormone falls drastically during menopause.

The importance of protein and calcium in the diet

Skin Care

For some time now, awareness of the importance of calcium for bone health has been growing. Hence, women are advised to consume sufficient amounts of dairy, green leafy vegetables, soya products and nuts.

What many don’t realise is that sufficient levels of protein are just as important for strong bones. After all, protein makes up roughly 50% of bone volume and about one-third of its mass. Daily intake of protein is also necessary to provide the raw materials for bone formation. Unfortunately, research shows that the levels of dietary protein consumed by Indians are actually reducing.

For non-vegetarians chicken, fish and eggs are good sources of protein. For vegetarians, pulses are one of the primary sources of protein, along with dairy products. Daily intake of protein in at least two major meals of the day, particularly in healthy forms such as sambhar or dal is, therefore, vital.

The role of exercise and sunlight

Eat Breakfast

Bone health also requires good muscle health. This makes it necessary to undertake moderate exercise as often as possible. A 45-minute walk six days a week as well as resistance training using the body weight, such as surya namaskaras, can go a long way to building muscles. Importantly, the body also requires Vitamin D to mobilize calcium for bone health. Hence, exposure to peak sunlight between 11am and 3 pm at least twice a week is also vital for bone health.

Osteoporosis can be a serious health problem that disrupts life and limits mobility, particularly for women. However, a healthy diet, rich in calcium and protein, together with exercise, can go a long way in maintaining bone health.



DISCLAIMER

The views and opinions expressed, and assumptions & analysis presented in this content piece are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company. The information, including but not limited to, text, graphics, images and other material contained on this website are for informational purposes only. The purpose of this website is to promote broad consumer understanding and knowledge of various health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

 

Related Products

selling
Tata Sampann

Chana Dal

View details
selling
Tata Sampann

Green Moong

View details
selling
Tata Sampann

Kabuli Chana

View details
selling
Tata Sampann

Kala Chana

View details

loading