May 18, 2009

Diet for a Calmer Mind

What is food to one, is to others bitter poison. — Lucretius

We become what we eat.

The foods we consume — and what they either contain, or more often lack — contribute directly to anxiety and depression.

When I discovered anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants did not help me very much, I embarked on a search for answers. What I learned surprised me:

  • Despite what you may hear from pharmaceutical companies about the wonders of their anti-anxiety and anti-depression products, millions of people get little or no relief from them.
  • What I eat affects how well my mind works and how I feel physically.
  • Each of us has unique nutritional requirements. What makes person feel lousy is just the tonic for another.
  • If I wanted to be free from having my life ruled by anxiety and depression, I had to find out what my body really needed for optimal mental health.

Walking Sacs of Chemicals

I’m not interested in why my body is the way it is. No two humans are alike. We are in a sense sacs of chemicals that have unique combinations. The biochemical cocktail that keeps me in balance is different from that which works for you.

Your body needs the right combination of building blocks, in the right amounts, to help it maintain equilibrium. Those building blocks include vitamins, essential amino acids, minerals, and trace elements.

It sounds complicated, and I confess I, too, was a little put off by the challenge of figuring out what would work for me. But if you approach the challenge methodically, you can discover what works for you — and what doesn’t.

A Methodology for Determining Your Optimal Diet

Here’s the methodology I used to determine the right mix for me:

  • I found a good doctor of functional medicine with whom I could work. Find a physician you can trust, especially if you are currently taking medications. Working yourself off medications is tricky and potentially dangerous.
  • I made certain I was getting adequate exercise. For me, that meant yoga, walking and resistance training.
  • I eliminated almost all refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup from my diet. That’s no easy task these days, but it can be done. If I want to bring on an episode of anxiety or depression, all I have to do is eat a lot of sweets for a few days. It’s predictable, certain, and entirely avoidable.
  • I studied the latest information on nutrition and the mind. I shared that information with my doctor.
  • I then began to take vitamins and experiment with amino acids and trace elements until I found the combination that yielded the best physical results.
  • I continued building good Habits of Mind to ensure I stayed on track.
  • When setbacks came, I chose to accept them and continued moving forward.
  • I learned to watch my body’s changing needs and adjusted my vitamin and nutrient intake accordingly.

The process works. If it seems a little intimidating and time consuming, consider that it works just as quickly as the promised effects of medications do.

And it was far easier compared to the pain and suffering anxiety caused in my life.

Try it for yourself, and discover what freedom can really mean.

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