Feeling down? Eat some fruit
When you are feeling a little down, do you want to eat? Do you think about food to provide relief or comfort? Are you searching for something for your sweet or salty tooth to calm you down?
Research gleaned from the long-term Women’s Health Initiative study of 70,000 middle-aged women made some interesting connections between depression and food cravings. The women in this study did not have mental illness or experience depression for three years before the study.
- Women who ate more refined sugars had higher blood sugar levels, but they also were at greater risk for developing depression.
- Women who ate more fruits, vegetables and whole-grains and less refined sugars, had better blood sugar levels and less depression.
Previous studies have shown that many people with depression crave sweets. The blood sugar highs from the sweet foods, followed by the lows from the insulin production, can create an internal blood sugar mess, and result in fatigue and emotional ups and downs.
Researchers cannot answer definitively if eating sweets leads to depression or if having depressions first is made worse by the blood sugar swings.
Nutrition researchers do know that if the majority of foods that you eat do not cause blood sugar swings, you will for sure feel better and have more energy. Plan meals and snacks around those healthful less-processed foods, like fruits.
Make these swaps when you can:
- Replace orange juice with fresh orange slices
- Replace white toast with whole-grain such as oatmeal, whole wheat or multi-grain
- Replace sweetened kid-type cereal with Cheerios, bran flakes or oatmeal
- Replace white rice with brown rice or quinoa
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.