Even the most subtle changes in mood can impact other aspects of daily living. Decreased motivation and energy, as well as changes in sleeping patterns and eating habits are common consequences. But each of these changes can, in turn, affect your nutritional well-being.
Some people turn to food for solace when they are depressed. Certain foods create a sense of comfort. If it sometimes seems like food is the only thing that will make you feel better, pay special attention to the choices you make. The “comfort foods” you turn to may be high in fat and can add unnecessary calories to your diet.
Other people experience a loss of appetite when they are depressed. If the “blues” have stolen your appetite, you could be missing the foods, calories and other important nutrients you need to help you recharge.
Tune in to how your mood affects your food choices and understand how they might be affecting your health.
Tuning into eating can happen at many levels. We discussed how important it is to tune into symptoms and to have a conscious awareness of what your body may need during times when you experience different symptoms. But a closer look at your eating — or mindful eating — can bring a greater consciousness to how and why you are eating.
This awareness can be helpful as you manage the blues, but can play an even more significant role in weight management and eating in a way that brings a sense of satisfaction and well-being. Notice when you eat, are you hungry, tired or bored? It’s easy to eat meal after meal, snack after snack without really knowing how much you’re consuming. By paying attention to your food — really pay attention — you can begin to notice all sorts of wonderful aspects of the food, and become aware of how much you’re putting into your body.
Practice this simple exercise the next time you have something to eat.
Take a bite of food. As you bring the food to your mouth, slow down and become aware of your movements.
Once the food is in your mouth, concentrate on the taste of the food and notice your chewing. (Don’t do anything else while you chew.)
Count the number of times that you chew until the food is uniformly smooth. Use this texture as a signal to swallow.
Now take another bite of the same food, but make it smaller. Again, count the number of times that you chew. Did the smaller bite take less chews?
Now take another bite much like the first one, but this time chew the food twice as fast. Did the speed affect the number of chews? Did it affect what you tasted?
What did you notice about your awareness of the food?
Find more tips from Denise Nowack, Dr. Ellen Mowry and other MSconnection.org members on our Discussion of the Month.