Just a few things I have learned over the past few weeks and months while dealing with depression and my mood has been up and down…
Alcohol is a depressant. It may seem like a good idea to drink to loosen up and forget about our woes for an hour or two, but ultimately unless we’re having a good time to start off with (e.g. out with friends) it will do more harm than good. Best avoided if feeling a bit down, indeed on one occasion I started a glass of cider and just couldn’t bring myself to drink most of it, even the taste just seemed bitter to me, a disappointing waste of a perfectly good drink that I would have enjoyed under better circumstances.
Sugary foods can cause wild mood swings. It may seem obvious, everyone probably knows that a lot of sugar will result in a sugar ‘high’, but then comes the ‘low’ and this is when things can turn bad. A small amount of sugar should be OK, so one or two sweets after a meal, but a large slice of cake covered in icing sugar with a sugary filling is probably not OK; there are plenty of foods that contain high amounts of sugar too such as bread that can contribute to an unseen high intake of sugar.
Omega 3 is supposed to help improve mood, whether this is true or not doesn’t really matter that much, the idea that it helps may be enough for most people. Oily fish is perhaps one of the best sources, such as fresh salmon from a fishmonger (poached or baked in tin foil) or nuts and seeds; having a selection of healthy snacks instead of sugary sweets while watching a film or evening TV is far better than sweets anyway, not least for our teeth.
On the subject of teeth, a little tip my dental hygienist told me was that it normally takes about 30 minutes for our mouth to ‘recover’ after eating, and it doesn’t normally matter whether it’s been sugary food or not, if we constantly snack or drink sugary / fizzy drinks then it’s like a constant barrage against our mouth and teeth; eating in one sitting and then only having neutral drinks (e.g. water) helps our teeth to remain strong; brushing should ideally be done at least 30 minutes after eating, as the harsh action will do harm when the mouth is still in ‘recovery’ mode. So, if you’re going to have a snack in the evening it’s better to do it in one sitting, possibly finishing off with a slice of cheese which helps to neutralise mouth acid and also aids in the digestion of fat, then give your teeth a rest before brushing.
Finally, dark chocolate is a taste worth acquiring – much better than the cheap milk chocolate which is mostly just fat and sugar, a high cocoa content is said to actually help improve mood. I certainly enjoy a good dark chocolate with a subtle flavour such as mint or orange, the taste alone helps to put a smile on my face, and the lower sugar and fat content means that it shouldn’t have too much negative impact health-wise (if eaten in moderation of course). I find anything around 70% cocoa or higher is best, there are a few really interesting brands that I favour including Green & Blacks and Montezuma if you can find them, some supermarkets don’t stock the best ones, only the ones they think will sell the quickest. Currently Sainsbury’s stock the Dark Chocolate Orange and Dark Toblerone which are also very nice.