Patient Blogs | Depression
How Fueling My Body With Healthy Foods Improved My Mental Health
photo of woman cutting fresh vegetables

Since I’ve had depression going on 7 years now, I’ve had some time to find things that make my symptoms better, and worse. Over the years, when I was in my depressive episodes I would eat quick and easy meals. I barely had the energy to get out of bed, let alone make a healthy meal. I binge ate a lot to try and fill the feeling of emptiness I was having. I wasn’t sleeping well at night, so I ate a lot of food that would make me feel worse in the morning. I would tell myself negative things because I was eating unhealthy. This made me feel even more depressed.

Recently, I have been educating myself on the importance of eating healthy. It not only helps our bodies, but our minds as well. I have been reading a health book that has taught me the benefits of eating certain healthy foods. It has changed my view on food in the best way possible. Not only does my body feel so much better now that I’ve changed my eating habits, so does my mind and my mental health.

I didn’t want to dramatically change my eating habits overnight. I knew this would result in me doing it for a short time, but eventually getting tired of it and stopping altogether. Instead, I took baby steps to start eating healthy. I had the mindset that I’m changing how I eat for a lifestyle not a diet. This is not something that’s temporary to lose weight or fit into my old clothes. This is a commitment I’ve made to myself. I started by adding more fruits and vegetables to my meals. In every single meal I try and add several different vegetables. Some of my favorite vegetables are kale, squash, avocado, cucumbers, and chickpeas. I love making a big salad for lunch and filling it with lots of veggies. Salads don’t need to be boring with just lettuce and dressing. Add in a variety of colorful vegetables to spice up your salad! Cutting up a bunch of vegetables and storing them in the fridge throughout the week is an easy way to make sure you’re adding vegetables to every meal. I also started drinking a lot more water. I made it a goal to carry around a water bottle with me and drink from it all day.

Another way to eat healthier is still making the same meals you normally do but substituting certain foods. Chicken and turkey are lean meats, so you could swap out the red meat you normally cook with for a leaner meat. Personally, I’ve cut meat out of my diet almost completely. I eat it every once in a while, but the majority of my meals are vegetarian. I have enjoyed finding meals to make that don’t have meat as the star of the meal.

Eating healthy is all in your mindset. Many people associate eating healthy with “being on a diet.” I no longer have that mentality. I know that eating healthy helps my body feel good, keeps my energy levels up, and improves my mental health. I now have the mentality that eating healthy is another part of taking good care of myself. Plus, healthy food can be delicious! I have made some really great healthy meals that taste way better than fast food.

I view food as an opportunity to fill my body with good foods that came from the Earth and that will nourish my body. Your body deserves for you to take care of it. Show your body you love it by fueling it with foods that make it feel good!



Photo Credit: yulkapopkova / E+ via Getty Images

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Katharine Hartleb

Katharine Hartleb

Diagnosed since 2014

Katharine Hartleb was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2014, at age 16. She has a passion for helping others and plans on becoming a mental health counselor. Hartleb lives in Charleston, SC, and is a recovery coach at a substance use disorder facility. She is also a young adult presenter for NAMI, sharing her personal story. Connect with her through her personal Instagram and her kat4kindness Instagram.

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