The Depression Manifesto Part 1: You Are What You Eat
Most of the successful people you see succeeded IN SPITE of their cocktail of flaws, insecurities, and shortcomings
WHAT THIS IS:
Like anyone dumb enough to start a blog, I have issues. And like most people who consider themselves 'artists' in any degree, depression is chief on that list. And much like some of my co-workers, it can be an insidious bitch capable of ruining even the best of days. But! Even the formless specter of chemical imbalance can be combated through a few principles, well-applied. These tips and tricks may not work for everyone, but they work for me. And if they help only 1 person feel a little better on a shitty day, I'll be a happy clam. Here's Part 1 of Many, a discussion of...
You Are What You Eat
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: As I write this, I have an actual food-hangover from pounding too many Jalapeno Cheddar Kettle Chips last night. What can I say? No one's perfect)
it took me embarrassingly long to understand the adage that 'you are what you eat'.
"I ate a hamburger," I would say, smug smile on my lips, "does that make ME a hamburger?" Check and mate, motherfuckers.
Well no, smug-Grant, you actually missed the point entirely. The whole gist is that you, as a biological organism, literally ARE what you stuff down your gullet. The body takes the food, breaks it down, and turns it into the building blocks of...you. So, if the depression is hitting you particularly hard one day, perhaps instead of looking into the mirror, you should look into the fridge. I've got some tips.
As a lifelong lover of food (and lover is a mild word to describe my enduring affair with Oreos), making the switch to healthier fare was hard. Well, it felt hard. In actuality, eating to FEEL good was one of the best, easiest changes to make in my life. Here's a few tricks I take advantage of to keep the dogs of hunger at bay:
1. Intermittent Fasting
"Fasting" you say, "but what about my metabolism?!" I'm so glad you asked (because your friends surely would have too). HERE is a well-sourced article from BodyBuilding.com that quashes these sort of myths, as well as digs deeper on the advantages of Intermittent Fasting (IF). In short, there are no significant changes to the body's catabolism or anabolism when using IF, and on the whole, the importance of metabolism in weight loss is overhyped, with calories in vs calories out being the truest metric in the world of weight-loss, weight-control, and fitness.
Why do I like IF? For me, the chief reason is portion and size control. My philosophy meshes with that of Pringles -- once I pop, the fun can't stop. So keeping my intake to a certain window helps block out the 'treat creep' that tends to occur at the beginning and the end of my days.
In particular? The daisy-chaining of bad habits. A drunken pizza order often turned into a pizza breakfast and god help me a cheese stick lunch. Saving the first meal of the day until 1pm short-circuited that dangerous thought process for me.
2. Go Low on Carbs, High on Fat
I AM NOT A DOCTOR AND THIS IS NOT MEDICAL ADVICE. Consult someone with a few acronyms at the start of their name before doing anything stupid or drastic. BUT on the whole I've had the most success with lowering my carb intake and upping my fat intake. Eating fat does not make you fat, contrary to the (understandable) popular belief. But there is no relevant correlation between the amount of fat you consume and the amount of fat on your body. Gaining a few pounds of belly fat indicates you've been consuming more calories than you've been burning, but nothing more. Of course it all gets more complicated than that, so if you'd like to learn more, hit up my bros at the American Heart Association.
WHY I DO IT:
When you're counting calories, carbs don't get a lot of bang for their buck. Ate some bread? You're hungry again in 20 minutes. Ate a fatty cut of meat? See you at dusk when you've brought back a Jaguar from the Amazon. The satiation of meat >>> the fleetingness of bread
OH, YOU WANTED ACTUAL RESOURCES?
- Tim Ferriss' SLOW CARB DIET works wonders (I'm on it now)
- A great list of LOW CARB FOODS
- 10 Proven Benefits of LOW CARB DIETS
- And at the bottom of the low-carb rabbit hole: THE KETOGENIC DIET
If you're still concerned about the fat thing, read about how this guy lost weight eating only the bullshit they serve at McDonalds.
3. Treat Food as Fuel
Remember how you are what you eat? Your food isn't just YOU. It's what fuels you, too.
Anything coming down your gullet gets the ol' bodily once-over to strip it of macronutrients -- proteins, carbs, fats -- and turn it into the compounds that keep you running strong.
Ever heard the term 'Brain Food'? Don't forget that everything that goes to your belly will ultimately circulate through your noggin. Have a test coming up? Job interview? Hot date? If you want to be at your peak, you should fill your engine (read: stomach. I'm going deep here) with nothing but the best stuff. And if you're prone to feeling as bad as I am, you want to have your defenses up at all times. So don't be afraid to sacrifice some temporary mouth-pleasure for the long term joys of passing chemistry, getting promoted, and confirming that Tinder-dating is a real pain in the ass.
You may not believe me yet, but once you start feeling the difference, there'll be no turning back.
- Chicken Breast, baby: Get a roasted chicken from the store and go nuts. Bonus points: the skin is fatty and delicious.
- Chipotle: Skip the rice and go heavy on the veggies.
- Veggies: Eat as fucking many as you want. Veggies are a free pass in my book. It'll be a long time before I'm upset I downed too many carrot sticks.
- Nuts: Surprisingly satisfying and surprisingly caloric. Good to grab if you're running out the door.
- WATER!: Just so that it isn't unsaid, DRINK ALL KINDS OF WATER! You're 70+% H20 -- spend some time making sure you're filled with fresh stuff. Water is key to just about every process in the body, including MAINTAINING MOOD -- and that's why we're here, isn't it?
That does it for round one of my Depression Manifesto! In further installments, I'll be discussing exercise, routines and systems, mindfulness, forgiveness, purpose, and some all-purpose tips and tricks.
Stay tuned, stay positive, and remember -- YOU'RE NOT ALONE!!