Eating more unprocessed food is a good way to improve your overall diet, but proponents say it can also do great things for your mental health.
For years, Carol’s diet revolved around a single ingredient: refined sugar.
“Whenever I felt anxious or depressed from my bipolar, I reached for candy bars, desserts, baked goods—anything that had high amounts of sugar,” she says.
They were her comfort foods and made her feel better, but only for a while. “As soon as the sugar crash hit, everything got worse, and my mood swings became more severe,” says Carol, 57, who lives in Riverside, California. “But I couldn’t stop the cravings.”
Carol knew she needed to transform her diet if she had any hope of managing her bipolar symptoms. Since she in essence had a sugar addiction, she turned to a twelve-step program to help break her appetite for junk food.
It took about six months of continuous work and support, but the program helped her cut out all added sugar and adopt a diet based on whole foods in their natural state, an approach often referred to as “clean eating.”
“For the first time in a while, I was more mindful about what I ate and how it affected my condition,” says Carol “I began making more meals and reading food labels to check for added sugar and other similar ingredients.”
The effect on her bipolar was life-changing. “I was not cured by any means, but my mood swings were not nearly as dramatic,” she says. “I had more energy and was able to keep my moods on a more even level.”
Less packaged, more whole
The term “clean eating” is trendy nowadays.
An entire magazine is devoted to the subject and it’s been the topic of numerous New York Times bestsellers. A quick search for clean eating on Amazon reveals more than 7,000 results.
But what does clean eating mean exactly?
“There are a lot of different interpretations, and no one fixed definition,” says Pamela Fergusson, RD, PhD, a registered dietitian and consultant with Fresh Start Nutrition in Toronto. “But generally, it refers to eating less processed foods and more whole foods.” [end of excerpt]
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