We all intuitively know that when we eat poorly it saps our energy and leaves us with a weight in the pit of our stomach. I like McDonald’s, but she’s a cruel mistress, taking more than she gives. Having said that I do not espouse dieting when you’re depressed. A main battle for depressives is overcoming the antagonistic onslaught in between our ears, and I don't want to give that condemning voice more ammunition. We have bigger fish to grill at this point.
Also, if you’re depressed your life is suffering from an extreme lack of enjoyment. So if you would truly enjoy a bowl of ice cream at night, please go ahead and enjoy it. Guilt free. Savor those bites. Sometimes your mom’s mac and cheese will bring back powerful nostalgic memories. Use them. Try to remember happy moments from your childhood as you munch on the gooey goodness.
The rule here is to watch yourself internally. If what you’re eating is bringing you joy, enjoy it. Eat slowly and intentionally. If you realize that you’re just eating to fill the void, try to stop. It will only leave you feeling worse.
Don’t get me wrong, though, eating well is a powerful tool in this fight. It will help boost your energy and fight illness, which you are more prone to while depressed. Instead of focusing on what not to eat, try to add healthy, mood-boosting foods to your diet. In his fantastic little book "How come they’re happy and I’m not?" Dr. Peter Bongiorno encourages us to drink plenty of water and eat raw nuts, fish, green vegetables, and fruits. If you have snacking issues like me, stock your fridge with all your favorite fruits and vegetables. It helps.
I did gain about 25 pounds during the two years that I was most intensely battling depression some of which was due to a side effect of my antidepressant. It’s not optimal, and of course I don’t want you to gain weight, but also don’t let societal pressure add an unrealistic burden to your life. You have to do what’s best for you. That will involve eating healthy, but it will also involve giving yourself grace.