In today’s blog post we cover, ‘best comfort food for depression’. We start our discussion with a brief understanding of depression. After this we move on to understanding the link between food and depression along with taking into account the ways in which the supposed ‘comfort foods’ are actually unhealthy and harmful in depression. Lastly, we look into the best comfort food for depression by taking into consideration some healthy food options in detail.
Best Comfort Food For Depression:
There have been several research pieces that prove that there is a strong link between food and depression. One such study has shown that turning to comfort food when depressed can lead to an improvement in the mood. Studies suggest that consuming foods that are associated with good thoughts and good nutrition along with warm feelings are related to improving the sense of wellbeing and reducing loneliness. It has also been seen that not only eating comfort food, but thinking or writing about it can also improve the wellbeing of a person.
Today, we take a look at some of the best comfort food for depressions such as:
- Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids
- Whole foods
- Meditrrianean diet
- Foods rich in gut bacteria
Depression is a mood disorder which is characterised by persistent feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in life. It is different from the general mood fluctuations that people experience as a part of their life.
Depression can be triggered by a variety of factors such as trauma and abuse, family history and genetic factors, drug and alcohol abuse,major life events,general medical conditions, high levels of stress or due to the loss of a loved one.
Depression is an ongoing concern and can last for several weeks or months and in some cases even years.
Some common symptoms of depression include sadness, irritability, sleep disturbances, loss of appetite, loss of sexual desire, agitation, restlessness, pacing up and down, feelings of guilt and worthlessness, difficulty in thinking, concentrating and retaining important information and suicidal ideations in severe cases.
Food and depression:
One of the common symptoms of depression is changes in appetite. On one hand it can be seen in the form of appetite loss, where the person may not eat at all or eat very scarce quantities. On the other hand it can also be seen in the form of over eating or stress eating where the individual is likely to eat out of proportion and the diet is less likely to be healthy.
However, there has been research evidence which suggests that a person’s dietary habits and the kind of food they consume has an impact on their depressive symptoms.
A study conducted in 2017 showed that there was a significant improvement in the symptoms of people having moderate to severe depression when they received nutritional counseling sessions and ate a healthy diet for 12 weeks. It was also seen that their symptoms were likely to improve when they limited their consumption of junk food such as processed and refined food and food high on sugar and starch. It was seen that their symptoms improved to an extent that they could be put under remission.
This led to the researchers concluding that dietary habits can determine the improvement or deterioration of depressive symptoms to a significant extent.
Does that mean everyone eats healthy when depressed?
As we saw above, that limiting junk food led to an improvement in depressive symptoms. However, when a person experiences a depressed mood, they instinctively reach out for food that is high on refined starch and sugar. They usually consider it as a ‘comfort food’.
No doubt these foods can help calm a person down and act as comfort foods, but they have only short term benefits.
Unwarranted consumption of these foods leads to rapid weight gain, sugar rush and other medical conditions,which again induce feelings of guilt and make the person feel even worse than before.
Therefore, there are certain types of food that one should avoid when depressed, as the relationship between food and mood goes way beyond the surface.
- Artificially sweetened desserts, fried foods, processed meats and processed grains:
The main problem with these foods is that although these are readily available and ready to eat, they contain huge amounts of refined flour, sugar, saturated fats, salts and preservatives in order to keep them fresh and tasty for a long time. These foods can help a person feel energetic because of the presence of the carbs and sugar, but it will be for a short period of time.
- Food that are low on natural fats:
A moderate quantity of natural fats are necessary for the body to function. When a person does not consume foods with natural fats on a regular basis, there are chances that the person is 25% more vulnerable to developing depression as compared to people who consume natural fats.
- Foods that are high on salt:
Foods like fires, crisps and crisps must be avoided as they are high on fats and can lead to dehydration as the sodium in the salt takes up the water in the body to get processed. Dehydration can lead to lack of concentration, which is a symptom of depression.
- Sodas and artificial juices:
Sodas and processed juices also consist of high amounts of sugar, caffeine and preservatives that can lead to dehydration and weight gain with no long term benefits.
Alcohol is also called a central nervous system depressant. If a person is already depressed, consuming alcohol can lead to further lowering of mood. Most of the self-harm and suicide related to depression show that the person would have consumed atleast some amount of alcohol at the time of harming oneself.
Are there healthy comfort foods that can help in depression?
Yes. It is possible to have healthy foods that can be the best comfort food for depression. Because food is a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain, the more balanced meals we take, the more balanced is likely to be our brain functioning which in turn can help reduce the depressive symptoms.
Some healthy foods that can be best comfort food for depression are as follows:
Food rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Omega 3 fatty acids are necessary for brain health and as discussed above, a good proportion of natural fats helps improve depressive mood.
This can be foods such as:
- Fish (Tuna, Mackerel, Saradine, Salmon and Herring)
- Chia seeds
One such best comfort food for depression recipe can be in the form of a banana-almond-flaxseed smoothie which can work wonders on mental health as well as the taste buds.
Studies suggest that consuming whole foods can significantly reduce depressive symptoms making it one of the best comfort food for depression.
- Whole grains
One such dish that can provide comfort during depression is the Fortified whole-grain cereal with low fat milk and blueberries which is filled with vitamin B and vitamin D and whole grains and fruits, along with lentil and vegetable soup with kale. Kale along with the whole foods is a good source of folate, which helps improve mood. Another dish can be whole wheat pasta with cauliflowers and collards which consists of complex carbs, vitamin B and folate, which helps improve mood.
Medical research shows that components of mediterranean diet can act as natural antidepressants as it is low on refined carbohydrates, high on natural fats and cholesterol and is made mostly of whole foods. These include:
- Low-fat or unsweetened dairy
- Raw nuts (unsalted)
- Lean red meat
- Legumes (like beans, peas, and alfalfa)
- Olive oil
Some best comfort food for depression includes dishes such as almond crusted barramundi fish, poached eggs and asparagus which consists of vitamin B and vitamin D while asparagus consists of tryptophan which helps increase levels of serotonin in the brain that can be helpful for depression, salmon salad with vinaigrette and walnut miso noodles which are rich in natural fats such as omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins and whole nuts.
Foods rich in gut bacteria:
Studies have shown that having foods that include gut friendly bacteria can lead to a significant improvement in depressive moods as these foods include probiotics. These foods are:
- Miso paste
- Kombucha tea
- Sourdough bread
- Cultured soymilk
Some of the best comfort food for depression recipes that consist of gut friendly foods include stir fried kimchi with tofu which consists of probiotics that have brain protecting properties that can help fight depression. It also consists of tofu, which consists of soybean and is rich in omega 3 fatty acids which can also help with depression. Similarly, walnut and miso pasta can be a good way of consuming probiotics along with fat greek yogurt with honey and granola.
Several other combinations of the above mentioned foods can be tried to make best comfort food for depression, which would not only help cope with depressive symptoms, but also help in stabilising appetite.
Frequently Asked Questions:Best Comfort Food For Depression
Are eggs good for depression?
According to Nutritionist Melissa Brunetti, an ideal breakfast for people struggling with depression would be eggs (which include amino acids, Omega-3, Vitamin D, and fatty acids), with sprouted-grain toast and smashed avocado.
Which fruit is good for depression?
The researchers have found some fruits and vegetables that can be associated with better mental health and fewer symptoms of depression. These include carrots, dark leafy greens such as spinach, lettuce, cucumber, apples, bananas, grapefruit, other citrus fruits, fresh berries, and kiwifruit.
What vitamin is a natural antidepressant?
S-adenosylmethionine is a good vitamin which is a natural antidepressant. supplementing it with fish oil and vitamin D is believed to have broader health benefits beyond depression treatment, including maintaining healthy bones, cells, and cardiovascular function.
Is drinking water good for depression?
The habit of drinking enough water daily will definitely help reduce many of the causes and symptoms of mood volatility. Although it cannot replace treatment, it can definitely help.
Do Bananas increase serotonin?
Many of the foods we eat naturally contain serotonin. Bananas are a good example of nutritious food that can help in improving mood by increasing serotonin.
In today’s blog post we covered, ‘best comfort food for depression’. We started our discussion with a brief understanding of depression. After this we moved on to understanding the link between food and depression along with taking into account the ways in which the supposed ‘comfort foods’ are actually unhealthy and harmful in depression. Lastly, we looked into the best comfort food for depression by taking into consideration some healthy food options in detail.
I hope this blog post was able to help the readers distinguish between the healthy and the unhealthy comfort foods along with an idea of the various kinds of healthy comfort food options for depression.