Q: Is there anything I can eat to help curb depression?
– Maddy in New York
A: First, read the chapter on fighting the blues (Chapter 6) in my book Food & Mood, which goes into much more detail than I have room for here. In addition, follow these rules: 1) Make sure every meal contains some complex carbohydrate-rich foods. 2) Cut back on sugar-containing foods. Replace refined sweets with nutrient-packed foods, such as fresh fruit, crunchy vegetables, whole grain bagels, or low-fat yogurt. 3) Cut back on caffeine from coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, colas, and medications. Drink more water instead. 4) Increase dietary intake of vitamin B6 by including several servings daily of chicken, legumes, fish, bananas, avocados, and dark green leafy vegetables. Also, include at least two folic acid-rich foods in the diet, such as spinach, broccoli, orange juice, or chard. 5) Make changes gradually. Select two or three small changes and practice these until they are comfortable. This will assure long-term success in sticking with your plan and will allow your brain chemistry time to adjust to the new eating style, without throwing your brain’s appetite- control chemicals into a tailspin. 6) Take a moderate-dose multiple vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in any nutritional gaps. 7) Remember, that what you eat is only part of the blues battle. Regular exercise, effective coping skills, a strong social support system, and limiting or avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and medications that compound an emotional problem also are important considerations. Depression also can be symptoms of other problems, so always consult a physician if emotional problems persist or interfere long-term with the quality of life and health. In the meantime, keep in mind that what you choose to sooth your hunger, also will be fueling your mood. -Elizabeth Somer