As a follow-up to my post on living A Life Less Medicated I am now going into detail on the new all-natural methods on how I am dealing with depression. The first is my healthier whole foods diet.
What is a Whole Foods Diet?
According to Michelle Bridges (an Australian health food and exercise guru):
Whole Foods are easy to get your hands on because they’re foods that haven’t been processed or refined before they’re eaten. Many of them can be found in your garden or your nearest shop – fruits and veggies, beans and legumes and grains like brown rice are considered whole because they haven’t been altered from their natural state. Therefore, whole foods don’t contain additives like salts, fats or other preservatives that you’d find in processed and refined foods. The only exception to the rule that whole foods are unaltered comes in the form of dairy products. Pasteurisation is considered to be a process that doesn’t affect the nutrients of the food, meaning that non-homogenised milks, yoghurts and cheeses are technically also whole. As a rule of thumb, though, if it comes from the ground and it’s untreated, you can safely assume you’re eating a whole food.
There’s a veritable smorgasbord of nutritional benefits to whole foods. Principally, eating them ensures that you gain the maximum amount of nutrients from your meal. And it’s not just us saying their good for you – the Australian Dietary Guidelines highly recommend them too, as you’ll discover in our healthy foods article. When you consume items in their most natural condition, your body then receives enzymes and nutrients in their most unrefined state, before they can be processed, and without additives or preservatives.
This is far better for your health than eating foods that have been cut with added ingredients, colours and flavours. For example, processed foods with extra sugar and salt added often contain more calories and are linked to obesity and high blood pressure in some people. This is not typically the case for the versions, which contain only natural sugars and sodium and often have fewer calories and better nutritional properties than processed foods.
How will it help with Depression?
“We have confirmed a relationship between the quality of people’s diets and their risk for depression and anxiety disorders.” Professor Felice Jacka, Director of Deakin’s Food and Mood Centre.
A 12-week study split participants – who all had depression – into two groups: 25 received social support (with formalised conversation and activities that engaged participants), while 31 people changed their diets. Those in the diet support group were given personalised dietary advice and counselling from an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
The results were surprising: one-third of those in the dietary support group met the criteria for remission of major depression, compared to just eight per cent of those in the social support group.
“There’s a very strong relationship between physical and mental health,” says Professor Jacka, adding that many mental and physical illnesses (including cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity) have the same underlying factors.
“It’s about the immune system and likely the gut microbiota … and diet is the most important factor influencing the health of the gut.”
The diet that’s good for mental health
Every country and culture has a different idea of what makes a healthy diet. However, according to Professor Jacka, there are a couple of common dos and don’ts.
- Do eat whole foods. Eat more plant foods, whole grains and lean proteins for better mental health.
- Don’t eat too much junk. The more processed food and sugary products you eat, the higher your risk of depression.
More information about the links between depression and your diet found here.
When I decided to give the whole foods diet a go (which isn’t really a diet, it’s just eating healthy, unprocessed foods) I went searching for a recipe book.
I found Hippie Lane by Taline Gabrielian which is also a vegan cookbook.
Taline Gabrielian is an instagram superstar. She has over 500,000 followers and her insta pics are boho chic of the foodie variety. In her cookbook she uses whole, unprocessed ingredients to produce plant-based, vegan recipes. I am a newly converted vegetarian that is only dabbling with the idea of becoming vegan so I thought I would commit to buy this cookbook in the hopes of finding out if vegan is the life choice for me.
With a whole foods diet there is a lot more work involved. There are no shortcuts, you have to make everything from scratch to cut out any processed ingredients. I am not sure I am going to stick to that because having 2 kids constantly wanting attention that can be difficult to get into the kitchen for over an hour just to prep and make dinner. But I will make where I can and be very conscious of what “shortcut” foods I will buy and make sure they are not high in sugars, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oil and sodium (all a big no-no if you have depression).
As for Hippie Lane the Cookbook, I love it, the few recipes that I have tried are tasty, fresh and not to heavy on the hard-to-find ingredients.. Except for the buckwheat groat… What the hell is a groat!! Actually I know what a groat is as she includes a handy-dandy list of essential ingredients for a whole foods vegan diet. Most of them I already have in my pantry!
She has a great choice of breakfast, lunch, dinner and sweets options that includes a great many smoothie recipes, how to make nut butters and so many delicious looking desserts. *drool*
I am only just starting my whole foods diet but I already feel less weighed down. I have more energy which means I am more likely to do some exercise!
And exercise will be the feature in my next post on living a life less medicated!
Have you tried a whole foods diet? Has it worked for you?
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