Depression

Food Cravings? – Who hasn’t?

 

There I was going about my business one day and I started to get the “urge.” I pushed the thought to the back recesses of my mind and carried on with the business at hand. It worked for a little while and then, there it was again. This cycle repeated itself several times over the next couple of hours. Now, I don’t know how or when it happened but the next thing I knew I looked down at my desk and there was this pile of silver Hershey Kiss wrappers laying in a most accusatory fashion. I looked around for someone to blame — really hard! But, my door was shut and since no one had entered my office I eventually had to come to the conclusion that I, yes I, had caved to the crave.

Cravings — If you are alive, chances are pretty good that you have experienced them. People can crave all sorts of things such as attention, drugs, alcohol, etc. But in this blog I will be discussing food cravings.

I’ve never met a person who hasn’t had a food craving. And whether you have a sweet tooth or you tend to reach for a salty snack, I’m sure it has hit you at one point or another. And when you do succumb to your cravings, you probably feel guilty for having strayed from your otherwise healthy lifestyle habits.

Have you ever noticed how we can crave certain foods, even when we are not hungry? What’s up with that? Well, there is not just one answer that fits all people. So, below I will offer a few possibilities that are the most common reasons why we get food cravings along with some tips to help fight them:

SIMPLE CONDITIONING
One of the biggest psychological reasons people crave certain foods is because of conditioned responses to things such as certain activities, people or places that act as a trigger. Many of these can be from childhood where they learned through experience that certain foods made them feel better or made them feel emotionally satisfied. As an example, when you were young you were always offered something sweet after you had finished your chores or after losing a baseball game your family headed to the nearest ice cream parlor. If this practice became more of a daily occurrence instead of a once in a while one, it set up a pattern that you probably carried into adulthood where you find yourself rewarding yourself with the same kind of “treat” because you feel that you deserve it. Conditioned responses go hand in hand with emotional eating.

Tip: If you can figure out what triggers your craving, you will be better able to control the temptation. It’s actually a simple concept albeit a tough one to carry out. But it can be done. So to break the “habit” that has been established, the first thing to do is to identify when the food craving hits so you can see if there is a pattern. Second, take note of what specific foods you crave at those times. Think back on life experiences in which food was connected to a specific food. What emotions were connected to the food? (happy, sad, upset, anxious, fear) When you figure out the “why” behind your food cravings you can then start to actively fight them. Remember, tell yourself that your body does not need the food you are craving only that it has been conditioned to crave it, therefore, you can also condition the craving to stop!

ADDICTION
Have you considered that you might be addicted to the foods you crave? It’s entirely possible. Let me explain. While you can be addicted to any food, most of the time it’s going to be foods with a high sugar, fat or salt content. Eating these foods stimulate the reward center of your brain by producing endorphins in your body. Endorphins are feel-good chemicals that are naturally manufactured in the brain. They are called the natural opiates of the body. Opiate drugs, such as morphine, codeine, heroin, and opium, are powerful painkillers derived from the poppy plant. These drugs alter pain perception, making it easier to tolerate, and elevate mood. Now isn’t it interesting that the human body produces its own opiates, called endorphins. So when we eat these kinds of foods and experience that, “feel good” feeling we want more—similar to the way drug users get addicted to narcotics. In fact, there are studies that show sugar can actually have a more intense feeling of reward than cocaine.

TIP: No real easy way to do this but if you are serious about wanting to break this habit, the first thing you need to do is “detox” your body by not eating the foods you are addicted to. That’s easier said than done because you will go through a withdrawal process. But if you can hang in there for about two weeks you can reset your hormones and break the food-addiction cycle. After the detox period, you can begin to introduce some of the foods back into your diet very slowly.

PHYSIOLOGICAL CRAVINGS
Some food cravings can be physiological or biochemical in origin, and could be caused by hormonal and chemical imbalances in your brain and nervous system. For example: Serotonin is involved with the regulation of mood and impulsive behaviors. Many studies have identified links between mood changes and low serotonin levels with food cravings. When serotonin levels drop or are deficient, you can develop cravings for carb-rich foods. Unstable blood sugar levels can be also be a physiological trigger. Whether from eating large amounts of carbohydrates, especially high-glycemic carbohydrates causing your levels to spike quickly then come crashing down or experiencing low blood sugar from not eating because of a too restrictive diet.

TIP: Keeping your blood sugar stable and eating high-quality carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables instead of high-glycemic carbohydrates (cakes, cookies, processed foods, etc.) can help. Also, once again, exercise is good for you by increasing your serotonin levels and it might as well help to decrease your food cravings. Instead of totally cutting out certain foods (which can sometimes cause you to crave even more) try to substitute with a lower-glycemic food that is similar to what high-glycemic food you are craving.

So, as you can see, there really isn’t a “simple” answer as to why we experience food cravings. We are all different and each persons cravings can be caused by one factor or multiple reasons. But, if you can learn the basics of how your own body works, then you can make better food choices to control the cravings instead of the cravings controlling you. If you would like help in doing just that, please give me a call at (616) 516-1570 or you can also click on the “contact” tab in the upper right hand side of the page. I look forward to your call!

Breaking the Cycle of Weight Gain and Depression

People are always looking for ways to lose weight. And for some, they will try every pill, gimmick, drink, etc., trying to drop those unwanted pounds. Only to discover after much frustration that nothing they buy or try will work. And as their weight hangs on or even keeps going up depression sets in—or could it possibly be the other way around?

What comes first, weight gain and then depression? Or depression first and then weight gain? Unfortunately, the experts don't know. But one thing they all agree on is that weight problems and depression are both heavy burdens to bear and they often go hand in hand. While some people experience weight loss with depression, weight gain is much more common and can lead to serious health issues.

So the question is, why, are depression and weight issues so closely linked? Well, to put it simply, the part of the brain responsible for emotion also controls the appetite. And when this emotional part of the brain gets disturbed in someone who is depressed, their appetite gets disturbed as well.

EMOTIONS AND APPETITES 
Emotional eating is when you eat not because of physical hunger but rather emotional hunger. When a person eats in response to their emotions, they are trying to soothe themselves by the food as it changes the chemical balance in their brain. Some foods, especially foods with high sugar and/or fat content may make you feel better, but only temporarily. And because the person associates the “feel good” feeling with the food, they want to eat more which leads to weight gain which in turn makes them feel bad about themselves which then leads to more eating and the vicious cycle has begun. Breaking that cycle can be quite challenging.

Because depression and weight are so closely linked, it is important to tackle both problems in order to get the upper hand on the situation. It’s not so important to figure out which problem came first but rather which one should get the most attention initially. If someone is severely depressed and overweight, the depression should be the primary focus. However if someone is exhibiting an eating disorder such as bulimia, and their eating is out of control, that would become the primary focus.

So assuming the person is depressed, overweight and is looking for help, what do they need to do? It might be surprising but the same tactic to control weight applies if you have depression—Decrease calories and increase physical activity. Now we know that when a person is depressed, they probably find it harder to muster up the energy to just get out of bed in the morning let alone make wise choices on what they are going to eat. However, it is critical to find a way to do both despite the effects the depression is having on them. So below I will offer some tips on weight management that will also help with depression.

BE MORE ACTIVE
Get moving! Most people with depression and weight gain have over time reduced their amount of physical activity. The low energy that comes with depression can be debilitating. But exercise is so key to treating not only the weight but the depression as well. Look at it as something you can do for yourself. And by taking an active role in caring for yourself it makes you feel good which in itself can be therapeutic.

And keep in mind that every bit of physical activity helps. It doesn’t mean you have to go to the gym and lift weights or run on a treadmill—unless that’s what you like. If you are struggling with low energy start out small. Set a goal to get out of bed in the morning and doing some stretches for a few minutes every day for a week, then add a walk and then other activities that bring you pleasure. By building on these small changes, overtime you will feel more in control, have a more positive outlook, and become more motivated to exercise.

MAKE GOOD CHOICES
Depression and food unfortunately results in unhealthy eating choices. People with low self-esteem often use food as a way to stuff their feelings of inadequacy and depression. So to turn this beast around examine the relationship between your depression symptoms and food. Consider the feelings you have about your weight and be mindful of how and when you use food. Food should be seen and used as a source of nutrition, not as an outlet for depression.

To help you start each day with the intention of eating healthy, I am going to give you a list of affirmations I found in an article by Self-Esteem Experts that I really like. Each day pick an affirmation from the list below or make up your own and repeat it to yourself throughout the day.

  • Today I choose to eat healthily because I love myself.
  • I eat for nutrition, not for boredom.
  • Today I replace sugary food with healthy choices.
  • I forgive myself for overeating. I will make healthier choices today.
  • I eat food that is good for me.
  • I make wise food choices.
  • I nourish myself with water, exercise and healthy food.

FEEL BETTER
Ahhh, that will be the reward!—To feel better. By taking charge of your life a step at a time and addressing the relationship between your weight and depression it will help to create a better body image. And as you decrease your weight by eating healthy you will also find that it will lead to higher self-esteem and a feeling of empowerment and content.

If you would like some help as you journey through this process of making the connection that by feeding your body you are also feeding your mind I encourage you to make an appointment with me at (616) 516-1570 or clicking on the “connect tab.” I look forward to helping you down the path of emotional and physical well-being.

Holidays, Menopause – No Need for Weight Gain!

holiday-food

Well, here we go. I can’t deny it any longer. Time obviously did not get my memo to slow down. Thanksgiving is really knocking on my door now and I guess I am going to have to answer it and quick!

Now once I open that door I know what’s going to be on the other side. Temptation! That’s what! Do you know what I mean? It’s really the start of a two month long food fest known as the “holiday season” Literally! Whether it is well meaning neighbors sharing their goodies or office parties, family gatherings, you name it. But I am determined to remain strong and still enjoy the holidays! Who’s with me? — Hey! Where did everybody go?

COME ON! We can do this! This advice can be for anyone, but today I’m going to focus on us women who have entered the middle age era of our lives known as menopause. Yep! Those of us who have gone through it or are going through it. Gone are the days of nibbling on that yearly tradition of eating the 5 lb. tub of Grandma’s homemade chocolate fudge that she keeps making for you (bless her heart) without some lasting consequences.

Something happens to our metabolism as we approach that time of our lives. It mostly sneaks up on us gradually until one day we look into the mirror and we think, “Well, how in the world did that happen?” It can be quite frustrating because you know you haven’t changed the way you eat and yet either the pounds kind of crept up on you slowly or the pounds you have always carried somehow have shifted to other parts of your body where they are not supposed to be.

I have heard from women who say they had never had a weight problem until they turned 40. And the weight just doesn't want to come off like it used to. It can be depressing, or cause anxiety, anger, and even lead some into falling into an attitude of “why bother?” and give up entirely. So today I am going to give us all a pep talk (myself included) and say, “Don’t fall into those kind of temptations (attitudes) either.”

Besides, there is way more to enjoy about the holidays than what we eat or can’t eat! You know, it’s crazy if you really think about it. But for some reason it can be hard not to indulge in everything laid out before us. But, if we really put it into perspective there’s nothing on the table that can’t be made any other time of year. We don’t have to gorge on all of it right now. Sometimes I find that’s when I have a talk with myself and say, “What do I want more, that piece of whatever, or do I want to feel good about myself later on?” This year, it’s going to be that I want to enjoy the satisfaction that comes from me making smart choices. Choices that benefit me in the long run.

We are not getting any younger. And sometimes you just have to make a stand and say, “today is the day, I am going to take charge!" So if that’s you, I’ll list a couple of tips to help you through the next couple of months.

LIMIT THE ALCOHOL AND SUGARY DRINKS
It’s inevitable. Where there’s a party, there is usually going to be alcohol, sugary punch or soda. And people usually drink more alcohol during the holidays than other times of the year. Those calories really add up fast. Something else to keep in mind is that alcohol actually reduces the amount of fat your body burns. So don’t drink your calories.

LIMIT THE APPETIZERS
A lot of times these little bits might taste great but can add up to 1000 calories before you know it and you haven’t even sat down for the meal yet. Look for a low calorie appetizer that will take the edge off your appetite so you eat less of the rich food offered.

PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING
Pay attention to what you are putting in your mouth. Pause to enjoy and really taste the food you are eating. Don’t get so caught up in the festivities that you are just mindlessly eating what is on your plate and before you know it, you look down and it’s all gone and you didn’t listen to your body telling you that you might have had too much.

BE CHOOSY
Go ahead and enjoy your holiday favorite but be choosy with the rest of the meal. Look for a tradeoff, if it’s a high-calorie side dish you really want then go easy on the dessert or vice-versa. Make your portions smaller and don’t load your plate with all the “sinful” pleasures.

SNEAK IN SOME EXCERCISE
Yes, it is possible! I don’t know about you but it seems like I am always going to the store for something. Park your car farther away from the door. Bundle up and go for a brisk walk even if it is for 15-20 minutes before a meal. It will rev up your metabolism. Watching a movie? Don’t sit the whole time, do some sit-ups or push-ups, lunges, or squats for 20 minutes. And the best way of all? Play with your grandkids. They have a way of helping you to burn energy you didn’t know you had in the first place!

In closing, I would like to say that maybe us women might face some challenges, such as hormonal changes that can lead to weight gain, loss of bone and muscle mass during this time, but you know what? People of all ages face some sort of challenge throughout life so let’s not make that an excuse not to do something about it.

As long as we are still up and kicking we can make a decision to educate ourselves and take the bull by the horn and tackle it. AND be successful! So when you open that door on Thanksgiving Day, focus on your family and friends coming through the door. Be thankful for the good things in your life. Even be grateful for the time of life you find yourself in. It has it benefits too! So, have that piece of Pumpkin Pie (with whipped cream even). Sit around and take a moment to relax, laugh, revisit memories with loved ones. Whatever you do, ENJOY the moment! Thanksgiving Day only comes around once a year! And one more thing, don’t forget to send the leftovers home with someone younger!

Say “YES” to a Healthy and Happy You!

be-healthy-be-happy-be-you-tiful-hot-pink-white-kids-t-shirt_design

Okay, Easter is over. How many Peeps, chocolate foil wrapped eggs, jelly beans, chocolate covered marshmallows and who knows what else have we mindlessly consumed over the last few weeks? What is it about all the holidays that make us lose control and eat stuff we know is not good for us? Think about it. It’s the same candy, only wrapped and shaped different to fit the holiday. And yet, we all fall for it like that pink wrapped chocolate egg is going to taste any different than the red and green wrapped chocolate kiss at Christmas. Our year is paced with holidays and the powers that be know how to market their products to make the consumer think they just have to have them even though we just bought the same thing only packaged different a month or so ago. And, combine that with all the traditional foods that we usually consume with each holiday and it’s not looking real pretty.

So when do we jump off the crazy merry go round that keeps going round and round year after year making us repeat unhealthy habits that are so bad for us. Unless we make a conscious decision to not fall prey to the marketing of these products and choose healthier more nutritious foods we are going to keep spinning around and around on that thing.

So now that we have a break in the deluge of holiday oriented goodies confronting us every time we go to the store I believe it is the perfect time to take control and seriously make a conscious effort to eat and live more healthy.

You might be wondering how and where do I start? One thing to keep in mind is that healthy eating is not about strict dietary limitations, staying unrealistically thin or depriving yourself of the foods you love. You really need to realize it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your outlook and stabilizing your mood.

We all know that eating right can help you maintain a healthy weight and avoid certain health problems, but did you know your diet can also have a profound effect on your mood and sense of wellbeing?

Studies have linked eating a typical western diet which is filled with red and processed meats, packaged meals, takeout food and sugary snacks with higher rates of depression, stress, bipolar disorder and anxiety. All the more reason to eat more fruits and veggies, cook more meals at home and reduce your fat and sugar intake.

While some specific foods or nutrients have been shown to have a beneficial effect on mood, it’s your overall dietary pattern that is most important. Switching to a healthy diet does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. You don’t have to be perfect and you don’t have to completely eliminate foods you enjoy to make a difference in the way you think and feel.

One thing I would like to mention here is that if you do any research on nutrition, sometimes you can feel overwhelmed by all the conflicting nutrition and diet advice out there. It seems that for every expert who tells you a certain food is good for you, you’ll find another saying exactly the opposite. But by using a couple simple tips you can cut through the confusion and learn how to create a tasty and healthy diet that is as good for your mind as it is for your body.

TIP 1 - SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS
Take a number of small, manageable steps like adding a salad to your diet once a day rather than trying to make one big drastic change in your diet. As your small changes become habit, you can continue to add more healthy choices.


*
Prepare more meals at home allowing you to take charge of what you are eating.
*Make the right changes. Replace unhealthy foods with healthy alternatives.
*Simplify. Eat more fresh ingredients.
*Read the labels. Be aware of hidden sugar and salt even in packaged ‘healthy’ foods.
*Focus on how better you feel eating healthier foods.
*Drink plenty of water helping to flush your system of waste products and toxins.

TIP 2 - EATING IN MODERATION
Eat only as much food as your body needs. You should feel satisfied but not stuffed at the end of a meal. Eat a balanced diet of carbohydrates, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Also, for most of us, moderation means eating less than we do now.

*Reduce portion size of unhealthy food and don’t eat them as often.
*Think smaller portions. Learn what a healthy portion is.
*Take your time. Give your brain enough time to tell your body when you have had enough.
*Eat with others when possible. Don’t eat in front of the TV or computer to limit mindless eating.
*Eat breakfast and then smaller meals throughout the day.
*Avoid eating at night.

TIP 3 - FILL UP ON COLORFUL FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. Try to eat the recommended daily minimum of five servings of both and it will naturally fill you up and help you cut back on unhealthy foods. A serving is half a cup of raw fruit or vegetable or a small apple or banana for example. Remember the more colorful the food is the higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants it contains.

TIP 4 - EAT MORE HEALTHY CARBS AND WHOLE GRAINS
Healthy carbs include whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. They digest slowly and help you feel full longer along with keeping blood sugar and insulin levels stable. Unhealthy carbs are foods such as white flour, refined sugar and white rice that has been stripped of all bran, fiber and nutrients. Whole grains are rich in phytochemical and antioxidants which help to protect against coronary heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.

TIP 5 - REDUCE SUGAR AND SALT
I think it’s safe to say that we Americans eat way too much sugar and salt contributing to so many health and weight problems. Do some detective work and look for hidden sugar and salt in most packaged food at the grocery store. Remember that sugar can have many different names such as honey, molasses, fructose, dextrose, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, malt syrup to name a few.

These are just a few tips that will hopefully help you along the way of a more healthy lifestyle and I do mean lifestyle because that is what it is all about, your LIFE and the STYLE in which you choose to live it.

If you are ready to make a life change and would like some support along the way I would love to assist you and share with you some strategies to achieve your goal of a more healthy you. Please call me at (516) 517-1560 or contact me through the website.

Healthier Life Resolution

Listening on the radio the other day I kind of chuckled at the persons reply to the question he had been asked. He was being asked if he had made any New Year’s resolutions this year. His reply was “Yeah, losing weight. I’m going to work on that one again this year.” Doesn’t that sound familiar? It was the word “again” that made me smile.

Why is it that January 1 always seems like a good time to start a “diet?” How many people get caught up in doing that? Is it because of all the junk food we consumed during the holiday season and we feel guilty or just the traditional thing to do. I’m not even sure where that concept came from but we all do it don’t we? In the famous words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”

If we are honest with ourselves, most of us have already fallen off the wagon of good intentions about dieting within the first few weeks. Food is everywhere and doggone it we get hungry right? We can have the best of intentions and then that co-worker comes in with the box of fresh baked doughnuts or it’s someones birthday and you just have to have cake and then before you know it, you finally wave the white flag and say, “To heck with it, pass the cookies and whatever else you’ve got!”

Really, the list of opportunities to not stick with that resolution we made is endless. Now don’t get me wrong, it is good to be thinking about our “diet.” But I don’t mean it the way most people refer to it. “Dieting” rarely works for the long term. While you can try restricting yourselves in the amount or types of food you eat and lose weight, most people find that they don’t keep the weight off. Over time the scale numbers start to slowing creep back up again and sometimes even go beyond what you started with. Yikes!

Instead of making a “new years resolution” to lose weight, try making a ‘healthier life resolution” Train your brain to think positive thoughts about living healthier instead of negative thoughts about what you have to give up to lose weight.

Think about it. When you say the word “diet” don’t you immediately think about all the stuff you might have to give up? Who likes to do that? That is why most diets fail. You can’t live in a perpetual state of denying yourself. There are times when it’s okay to have that piece of dessert
or that cheese laden lasagna.

We need to change the way we think and feel about food. This will be a process. As they say, “Rome was not built in a day” You can’t just change all your habits that you have had for years and expect in one day to eat a totally different way. Try thinking about what you can add to your “diet” to make it healthier and at the same time cut back on the not so healthy foods you usually consume. Before you reach for that snack ask yourself why you want it, do you really need it.

Just like we put gas and oil in our cars to keep them running we put food in our “engines” to keep us running. Isn’t it ironic that we would never think to put the wrong kind of gas or oil in our vehicles yet we sometimes don’t give a second thought about what kind of “fuel” we put in our own human machines? Thank goodness our body can process some bad fuel better than our cars can and keep running. However, over time our body will begin to tell us that we haven’t been feeding it right and will begin to tell us in various unpleasant ways.

We are creatures of habits and we tend to do what we know how to do even if it is not good for us. So if you find yourself with a lot of bad habits regarding eating, there is no time like the present to make new habits.

So let’s start treating our bodies better than our vehicles and think before we eat. If you are someone who likes to drink soda, start out by substituting a glass of water sometimes. Don’t drink your calories. Try a fruit infused water instead. If you always have three pieces of pizza, sneak a salad in and then eat just one or two pieces. Who says you have to have butter AND sour cream on that baked potato? Buy more from the outer perimeter of the grocery store and less of the processed foods in the aisles. If you look for opportunities to eat healthier you WILL find them and pretty soon they will become a good habit.

Over time the benefits will show up in pleasant ways. Some of that weight that’s been hanging around will disappear. Your body will feel better and run smoother with a healthier you. Remember to not get discouraged and depressed if you slip up now and then. It’s bound to happen. Expect it! Just make sure you pick yourself up, dust off the slip up and get back on that horse again and keep riding. You are worth it and CAN DO IT!

Let this be the last year that your New Years resolution is to lose weight “again.”

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

IS GRAY HERE TO STAY

Fall has come and gone. The beautiful colors of autumn have been raked up and disposed of. Days have gotten shorter and darkness falls before dinner. We know that the brutal cold winds of winter are soon going to be whistling through the bare brown branches and we will have to hunker down for the long haul. While some people see this time as a festive time with the holidays starting, others can only look ahead to the long bleak days ahead as a colorless non ending existence.

Ugh! The gray days of winter. How are we going to get through them? That can be a typical thought of many people around this time of year. But for some, that thought can be felt more like depression. How can you tell if you have more than a mere case of the “winter blues” or “cabin fever?”

SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER (SAD)

During the fall and winter months, some people suffer from symptoms of depression that can appear gradually or come on all at once. These symptoms often fade away as spring arrives and stays away throughout the summer months. For some people, this is an indication that they may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

SYMPTOMS

Depression symptoms can be mild to moderate, but they can become severe. There is no specific diagnostic test for the illness but it is understood that symptoms can include but are not limited to:

*fatigue
*lack of interest in normal activities
*social withdrawal
*craving foods high in carbohydrates
*weight gain
*irritability
*trouble concentrating

HOW COMMON IS (SAD)

An interesting fact is that women tend to suffer more than men. It typically starts showing up in early adulthood although it can occur in children and adolescents also. It is more commonly
seen in people who live in cloudy regions. Altogether, approximately one half million people in
the United States suffer from winter SAD, while 10 to 20 percent may suffer from a more mild
form of winter blues.

WHAT CAUSES SEASONAL AFFECTIVE DISORDER?

The specific cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder remains unknown but some suggest that
your biological clock (circadian rhythm) gets out of whack. The reduced level of sunlight we experience in the fall and winter may cause the winter onset of SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.

A drop in Serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood could be a culprit that may trigger depression due to reduced sunlight. Also, Melatonin levels can be disrupted due to the season
which can play havoc with your sleep patterns and mood.

WHAT DO I DO IF I THINK I HAVE SAD?

Sometimes physical problems can cause depression. But other times, symptoms of SAD can be a part of other mental disorders. I can evaluate your pattern of behavior and identify whether you have SAD or another type of mood disorder. If you do find that you do indeed have Seasonal Affective Disorder here are some common sense home remedies that might help.

5 HOME REMEDIES TO TREAT SAD

1. GET SOME LIGHT
Try to increase your exposure to light. Get as much natural light as you can
between 6:00 am. and 8:00 a.m. Go out for a walk, or at least sit by a window.
If you can’t get out in the morning light, at least get out on your lunch break.
Even if it’s cloudy, the natural light will do you some good.

If you can’t get outdoors, try a natural full-spectrum light. One of the most
effective treatments for SAD is daily exposure to a specially designed light
box. Make sure it provides enough intensity of light to positively affect SAD
symptoms.

2. EAT RIGHT
It is thought that if your levels of Serotonin decrease it can make you crave
carbohydrates. Some have suggested that eating tryptophan rich foods may
increase the body’s production of Serotonin and help you feel better. Although
there is no solid research that supports this, you might want to try eating more
of these foods to see if your symptoms improve. What could it hurt? Some foods
rich in tryptophan include turkey, seafood, milk and egg whites, asparagus and
spinach. Fruits such as apricots, apples and bananas are also a good source.
Research also shows that taking Vitamin D can make a noticeable difference.

3. LIMIT ALCOHOL AND CAFFEINE
Alcohol is a depressant which can bring your mood down even lower and while
Caffeine may give you a little boost for the short term it can also cause anxiety,
muscle tension and stomach issues.

4. EXERCISE
Try walking, jogging, biking, swimming, anything aerobic, but get moving. Even
better, try to exercise outdoors or at least by a sunny window.

5. GO ON VACATION
Try to take a trip during the winter months to someplace warm and sunny.
For most people with SAD, it takes two or three days of bright sunshine to
start reversing their symptoms.

If your symptoms are mild, hopefully some of these natural home remedies listed above can bring you some relief. However, if the feelings of depression are or become overwhelming, do not hesitate to give me a call. There is help out there for you! You are not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder is real, yet, the good news is it is highly treatable.