Happy Wednesday! For today’s blog post I’m gonna be talking about depression and diet and how I feel they have a huge impact on each other. As always I will be speaking from my own experiences and things that I’ve learned from being a personal trainer, coach, and competing in bikini competitions.
Depression and diet go hand-in-hand because not only does what we eat have an effect on our brain and our bodies, but why we eat what we eat has a lot to do with how we feel and our mental state. For me, high school on I struggled with self esteem, anxiety, depression, body positivity, bulimia, and other eating problems. I had never genuinely worked on healing from these, I would just ride the up and down rollercoaster of my physical and mental health. I had no idea how much diets and depression can be be connected.
I personally am not a huge fan of "diets". One of the reasons is because they usually have a beginning and an end. Not only do I believe this causes anxieties with food, but it affects our bodies physically as well. Yes there is a time and a place to diet, and I have dieted for bikini competitions myself. But the negative outcome the end of the diet had on my mental state, is something I wouldn’t wish for people. When it came to dieting I had I’d work my ass off and COMMIT. It was easy to restrict myself intensely for months on end because I was focused. Little did I know I was feeding into all of the eating problems I’d had for years.
Looking back, it was probably not the smartest thing for me to even diet and compete in the first place because there were already deep rooted problems with my relationship with food. (Hence why I said “Time and a place to diet.”)
After crushing a diet for however many months, I would feel confident in my body but too obsessed with how my body looked. I would get to a type of diet and body that was clearly not sustainable for me to live a normal life and be happy and healthy. But still it was more of a high. I was less depressed because I was consuming little to no sugar and honestly didn’t have the energy for it.
The problem always came after the diet. The diet had an end and it had to. I always warn clients/competitors that the hard part is after the show, or after the diet ends. I had restricted myself for so long that when I had finally let myself have sugar or junk food, it tasted so good and I wanted to eat as much as I could before I had to diet again. These foods had so much power over me, these “cheat meal” and “treats”. My binge eating would be unheard of. I went hard on the diet and I went hard on the food after.
I would obviously gain weight back after competitions but I would gain too much weight. That alone will fuck with your mental health. Many times when we are dieting we are dieting to change the way we look and change our physique. So with the main focus being how you look, say you successfully complete this diet and you love the way you look now. If you were like me and you already had self-esteem issues an unhealthy relationship with food, when you are done restricting yourself and realize you can't realistically maintain this diet, you see your body changenand it can weigh heavy on you and bring back a lot of issues that were buried down during the diet. Even if I looked better than I ever had I would still beat myself up and feel so down on myself and feel like I was gaining so much weight. I would change my gym wardrobe and worry about what I was wearing way more than I ever had. All I thought was that I looked terrible. That alone let depression creep in hard and struggled on a new level.
Other than physical appearance, diet can affect your mental health because what we eat directly affects our energy and our brains and the way our bodies run. For example when I dieted I wouldn’t really eat sugar or very strongly stayed away from it. So then for my body to no longer rely on sugar, me deciding to eat it in overly large amounts had an instant reaction on my energy, mood, gut, and etc. It would be a quick high and a big crash, and I would always feel shitty after. But I was so excited I finally got to eat whatever I wanted because I knew I couldn’t when it came time for my next diet. So I took advantage. Just giving more power to my unhealthy relationship with food. So basically the highs and lows of sugar would increase my anxiety and push my depression to extreme rough patches. Food has a direct correlation with mental health, and sugar/binging have effect aren't healthy for the body.
So that is the rough thing about diet and depression. That instability on your life, health, nutrition, physique, and more, can directly relate to why you may be depressed or going through a tougher spell with your mental health. And in return that depression can cause you to have even more of a difficult relationship with food.Our mental state and the food we consume are both extremely important when it comes to our health. We have to build healthy and sustainable relationships/habits in order to feel our best.
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