I finally had the tools to fight depression naturally…. but I just didn’t know how to apply them.
- Add depression fighting spices, 2. Eat more Omega 3’s 3. Eat less processed food and 4. Eat more natural fruits and veggies.
I did this for a long time but I just couldn’t kick the emotional drinking and eating at night. Worse, I looked forward to it… all the stress I repressed from the day festered and by five I was like a Pavlov project… mouth watering at the thought of a glass of wine and my favorite salty snack, pretzels. Pretzels with peanut butter, thin pretzels with cheese, pretzels with dip (I didn’t discriminate)… and I’d eat almost the whole fudging bag. Then I’d top it off with a bag of Twizzlers…. with some more wine, finishing a bottle per night to be exact.
In the morning guilt set in and I’d tell myself, “Tonight I’m not going to drink or snack. Nothing passed 8:00pm.”
And guess what?
Yup, here comes 8:00pm tick tocking and I’m already finished with half a bottle of wine, working the second half and raiding the pantry.
Somethings got to give.
My brain is hooked on wine and pretzels like a drug. I’m not an alcoholic or an emotional eater, but my brain is associating wine and eating at night as a stress reliever. When my brain found its dopamine fix it became comfy and cozy with the ritual. I, unknowing, fed my brain this craved routine.
Then my brain shouted, “Up the anti, lady! I need stronger doses!”
So, I complied, needing more wine and bad food to release stronger dopamine chemicals (since my brain now was immune to the lower levels).
I know, for a fact, I’m not the only person that falls into this trap. It can comply with other drinks and foods in our life also, such as coffee, soda, fast food, chocolate, ice cream… you get the picture?
In Dr. Amen’s book he explains how you have to retrain your brain to beat addiction, depression, anxiety and the list goes on (so interesting – read his stuff).
Here’s what I learned in a nutshell with further research, it takes about one month for the brain to begin transformation.
So I did this.
For the majority of this one month I weaned off bad carbs, still struggling nightly to not drink half a bottle of wine (or none) and going to my nightly cravings. I would sit in bed frowning while chomping on celery and carrots and drinking flavored seltzer water (don’t cringe, you’d be amazed how much I love this snack now. In fact celery is so good with almost any dip). Once I got close to the three to four week mark (one month) my brain began its positive change… but my conscious and subconscious was still very aware, eyeing the sales of my favorite snacks at the grocery and in the sale ads, not to mention the coupons they personally send in the mail, reminding you of your favorite snacks that you haven’t purchased in a while (Those coupons are like the little cartoon devil sitting on your shoulder. “Hey, remember me?” I’m sure my cartoon devil is drinking wine and waving the coupon with a wicked a laugh).
I had not truly transformed after one month and Dr. Daniel Amen would refer to my situation, because I’m still envisioning my glass of wine and pretzels, “That is your reward system.”
I subconsciously set up a reward for me to take away stress and increase dopamine levels in my brain. So, though my brain was rebooted on a chemical level, the habit was still formed. In another words, I was still the dog to the ringing of the bell (Pavlov).
I needed to come up with a new reward system.
Truth: It takes at least two (.17) months or about sixty-six days to create new habits and change behavior.
During the first week you need to put all your concentration on changing what you are eating and putting in your body (make sure you’ve done the month of carb weaning first. This is the warmup before the workout). Week one, even after carb weening, will be a struggle. You do not want to add stress on the brain by trying to form other new habits. Concentrate on what you are eating.
Week two is when I mapped out changes to add more activity and exercise. This is changing your habits.
It’s very important to note that we all work very differently, so you will need to work at your pace knowing your personal stress levels and triggers. You will also have to take in consideration your health (mental, physical and emotional), to what you can do and what is right for you.
I’m giving you the tools, knowledge, guide, calendar…. if you are struggling don’t give up. Modify this system to what benefits you and still complete the lifestyle change. Remember, I didn’t figure out this system over night – it took me years of trial, error and research to figure out what works for me. I’m giving you a short cut to all this information, that doesn’t mean you might not have to modify the lifestyle change according to… well, your lifestyle.
I personally do not know how far in depression you are, medication levels, financial stresses and home and/or work environment etc… All these things can be intense stress triggers, leading to more work in eliminating addicting junk food and bad habits out of your life.
The most important thing you can do is keep an open mind. The second most important thing you can do is not give up.
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”~Confucius
During this process stress will be your worse enemy if you don’t learn how to control it. (Read up on 10 Ways To Beat Chronic Stress); Because though you are building your brain chemicals with activity, good food, knowledge, self-growth and sleep…. stress is going to try to unravel it all.
Figure out stress triggers in your life and which methods are best at handling them. Make a plan so you are prepared, can remove yourself from a stressful situation on cue and start working on some TLC ASAP. The sooner you recognize triggers and how to tend to them, the more promptly you will beat the stress down and keep the brain flooded with happy chemicals.
Inserted below is the calendar to download with tips and reminders of activity, stress releases, self growth books, podcast etc.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out with additional questions as you are going through your quest. I will answer all questions with some extra motivation during your lifestyle change. (Just comment or visit the contact page)
You’ve got this!