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Self Growth.com: a fantastic resource for everyone!
Senior Information associated with Diet
By Shubhra Krishan

Starvation of the Spirit

At a clinic for anorexia sufferers, I found real girls behind the sensationalized images of this tragic disorder.

By Emma Farnsworth
Updated: 1:17 p.m. ET June 1, 2007

June 1, 2007 - I remember sitting in the waiting area, where “lucky” bamboo grew in glass pots on the receptionist’s desk, nervously swinging my platform-sandaled foot and fingering my great-grandmother’s locket.  I could hear the voices of the other girls, but even if I stretched my neck, I could only glimpse one angular elbow—the rest were blocked from view.  All I wanted was to see them, and I only wanted to see them so I could compare myself to them.  I was so afraid that I would be the fattest girl at McCallum Place, an eating-disorder treatment facility in St. Louis.  I wanted desperately to be a “legitimate” anorexic.

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Eating in Peace

After conquering an eating disorder, my only path to a "healthy diet" is to savor every bite

By Stephanie Dolgoff, Prevention

"I'll have the blueberry pancakes with bacon, two eggs sunny-side up, and coffee," I told the waitress. My boyfriend, Tim, glanced up to catch her eye, but I wasn't through. "Wheat toast. Oh, and could I also have the granola with yogurt and fruit? And water. And a Diet Coke with lemon. Thanks."

After Tim had placed his order (puny by comparison), I could tell he was trying hard to keep his thoughts to himself. He failed. "I just don't understand why you always get so much food when you never finish it," he said. He was right - a fleet of truckers coming off a juice fast would have a tough time downing all that. I'd usually eat just a few bites of each dish, while Tim would scarf up the rest. "It's not like you have money to waste, not to mention the waste of food. It's crazy!"

It was crazy, from where he sat. But for me, it was a sign I was getting sane. I was in my mid-20s, just a few years into my recovery from an eating disorder. It started out as anorexia when I was 13, but soon turned into a hideous, secret bulimia. I'd parse calories and adhere rigidly to my short list of permissible foods. Then I'd rebel, eating everything I denied myself and then some, hating my body and my weak will. Sometimes I'd binge and throw up six times a day.

I wasn't fat. My eating disorder was only partly about losing weight. Mostly, although I didn't realize it at the time, it was my way of trying to suppress any emotions I considered wrong or bad. Every time I felt angry, jealous, anxious, or sad, I'd stuff it down with food, or with an exercise meant to prevent me from eating, like running in place for an hour or writing a thousand times I will not eat.

I honestly believed that if I could just will my body into shape, I'd be able to handle the pain of the rest of my life - my warring parents, my autistic brother, my adolescent insecurities. Of course, my eating disorder didn't conquer any monsters - it just created a new one. Food, and the feelings I was using food to avoid, melded into a frightening many-headed beast, and I didn't have a clue how to control it.


Fortunately, with a little maturity, therapy, and support, I finally realized that neither my appetite nor my emotions should be controlled - but rather fed, even indulged. Most important, they had to remain separate from each other. By ordering the entire left side of the menu, I was learning to listen to my body; my only rule was to stop when I was full. There couldn't be any restrictions, or my bulimic side would eventually rebel.

And it worked. After a year on my "liberation" diet, I was relieved to find that when I let my body choose what it wanted, it picked pretty well. Not perfectly: It preferred butter to olive oil and had a hard time passing up carrot cake, hungry or not. Still, my weight was stable and healthy, and I was ordering only one meal at a sitting, thank you very much. And that's how it was for about 15 years.

But a while ago I realized that my relationship with food was in trouble again - although this time, the signs were different. I was at a deli on my lunch break, chewing something healthy - I knew as much because of the dry, mealy texture. So I took a sip of water. Wow. That sure didn't help - now I had a floury paste on my tongue.

I looked down at my fake egg salad, mortared together with tofu mayonnaise, on seven-grain bread that probably would have tasted better had they quit at two or three. Why in the world, I suddenly wondered, was I eating this horrible thing?

For the previous 5 years, I'd been an editor covering health and nutrition - phytochemicals, antioxidants, good carbs, bad trans fats. It was a demanding job. I also married and had twin girls, and was running as fast as I could to meet work deadlines and fill my family's every need. I was trying to be perfect - again - only now I wasn't a teen counting calories; I was an adult using nutritional criteria to provide rules so I could feel in control of my chaotic life.

Whole grain "good" carbs? Check. Source of lean protein? Got it. Two of my five daily servings of fruits and veggies? Roger that; so, yes, I finished that disgusting sandwich, then ate a fruit salad, replete with antioxidant-rich blackberries. I hate blackberries.

That afternoon, I mindlessly grabbed a fistful of jelly beans from a coworker's candy bowl. Then I furtively nibbled the icing off a cupcake, even though I wasn't hungry. I felt like I was sneaking, but who was I hiding from?


According to my own anything-goes approach, I could eat a whole cupcake if I wanted. But lately I wasn't in touch with what I wanted. And just like in my bad old days, I felt compelled to steal some sweetness in rebellion.

Some people, I guess, can learn a lesson and be done with it, while others have to learn it again and again. In the hectic craziness of my life, I'd forgotten that I need to nourish myself emotionally as well as nutritionally.

Since the sandwich that left a lump in my throat, I've traded my job for freelancing to buy more time. Now I have enough energy to help out at school for Vivian and Sasha - and to be nicer to my husband, exercise, and occasionally see friends.

I'm back to indulgence mode, although not necessarily fistfuls of jelly beans. Now, when I become too concerned with what's healthy - and not concerned enough about what sounds good for lunch - I take it as a sign to step back and figure out what I really need to feel satisfied. Sometimes, it's a plain bagel (not whole wheat) with plenty of real cream cheese - hold the tofu stuff, please.

Provided by Prevention

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Diet for Depression

Trying to find a diet to ease depression? Unfortunately, there’s no specific diet that works for depression. No studies have been done that indicate a particular eating plan can ease symptoms of clinical depression.

Still, while certain diets or foods may not ease depression (or put you instantly in a better mood), they may help as part of an overall treatment for depression. There's more and more research indicating that, in some ways, food and mood are connected.

How can my diet affect my depression?

Dietary changes can bring about changes in your brain structure, both chemically and physiologically. Those changes can improve mood and mental outlook. Here are 10 tips for eating if you or a loved one is recovering from clinical depression.

1. Eat a diet high in nutrients

Nutrients in foods support the body's repair, growth, and wellness. Nutrients we all need include:

  • vitamins
  • minerals
  • carbohydrates
  • protein
  • a small amount of fat

A deficiency in any of these nutrients lead to our bodies not working at full capacity – and can even cause illness.


2. Fill your plate with essential antioxidants

Damaging molecules called free radicals are produced in our bodies during normal body functions – and these free radicals contribute to aging and dysfunction. Antioxidants such as beta-carotene and vitamins C and E combat the effects of free radicals. Antioxidants have been shown to tie up these free radicals and take away their destructive power.

Studies show that the brain is particularly at risk for free radical damage. Although there’s no way to stop free radicals completely, we can reduce their destructive effect on the body by eating foods high in powerful antioxidants, including:

  • Sources of beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato. 

  • Sources of vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato. 

  • Sources of vitamin E: margarine, nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ.

3. Eat “smart” carbs for a calming effect

The connection between carbohydrates and mood is linked to the mood-boosting brain chemical, serotonin. We know that eating foods high in carbohydrates (breads, cereal, pasta) raises the level of serotonin in the brain. When serotonin levels rise, we feel a calming effect with less anxiety.

So don’t shun carbs – just make smart choices. Limit sugary foods and opt for smart carbs, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, which all contribute healthy carbs as well as fiber.


4. Eat protein-rich foods to boost alertness

Foods rich in protein, like turkey, tuna, or chicken, are rich in an amino acid called tyrosine. Tyrosine boosts levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and norepinephrine. This boost helps you feel alert and makes it easier to concentrate. Try to include a protein source in your diet several times a day, especially when you need to clear your mind and boost your energy.

  • Good sources of protein foods that boost alertness: beans and peas, lean beef, low-fat cheese, fish, milk, poultry, soy products, yogurt.

5. Eat a Mediterranean-type diet

The Mediterranean diet is a balanced, healthy eating pattern that includes plenty of fruits, nuts, vegetables, cereals, legumes, and fish. All of these are important sources of nutrients linked to preventing depression.

A recent Spanish study, using data from 4,211 men and 5,459 women, found that rates of depression tended to increase in men -- especially smokers -- as folate intake decreased. The same increase occurred for women -- especially those who smoked or were physically active -- but with a decreased intake of another B-vitamin: B12. This wasn't the first study to discover an association between these two vitamins and depression. Researchers wonder whether poor nutrient intake leads to depression or whether depression leads people to eat a poor diet.

Folate is found in Mediterranean diet staples like legumes, nuts, many fruits, and particularly dark green vegetables. B12 can be found in all lean and low-fat animal products, such as fish and low-fat dairy products.


6. Get plenty of vitamin D

Vitamin D increases levels of serotonin in the brain. Researchers, though, are unsure how much vitamin D is ideal. There are individual differences based on where you live, the time of year, your skin type, and your level of sun exposure. Researchers from the University of Toronto noticed that people who were suffering from depression, particularly those with seasonal affective disorder, tended to improve as their levels of vitamin D in the body increased over the normal course of a year. The recommendation is to try to get about 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D a day from food if possible.

7. Select selenium-rich foods

Selenium is a mineral that is essential to good health. In a small study from Texas Tech University, supplementation of 200 micrograms a day for seven weeks improved mild and moderate depression in 16 elderly participants. Other studies have also reported an association between low selenium intakes and poorer moods.

It is possible to take in too much selenium so that it becomes toxic. But this is unlikely if you're getting it from foods rather than supplements, and it can't hurt to make sure you're eating foods that help you meet the recommended intake for selenium, which is 55 micrograms a day. The good news is that foods rich in selenium are foods we should be eating anyway. They include:

  • Beans and legumes
  • Lean meat (lean pork and beef, skinless chicken and turkey)
  • Low-fat dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds (particularly brazil nuts)
  • Seafood (oysters, clams, sardines, crab, saltwater fish, and freshwater fish)
  • Whole grains (whole-grain pasta, brown rice, oatmeal, etc.)


8. Include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet

We know that omega-3 fatty acids have innumerable health benefits. Recently, scientists have revealed that a deficit of omega-3 fatty acids is associated with depression. In one study, researchers determined that societies that eat a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids have a higher prevalence of major depressive disorder than societies that get ample omega-3 fatty acids. Other epidemiological studies show that people who infrequently eat fish, which is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, are more likely to suffer from depression.

  • Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: fatty fish (anchovy, mackerel, salmon, sardines, shad, and tuna), flaxseed, and nuts.
  • Sources alpha-linolenic acid (another type of omega-3 fatty acid): flaxseed, canola oil, soybean oil, walnuts, and dark green leafy vegetables.

9. Watch your lifestyle habits

Many people who are depressed also have problems with alcohol and/or drugs. Not only can alcohol and drugs interfere with mood, sleep, and motivation, they can also affect the effectiveness of your depression medications. In addition, drinks and foods containing caffeine can trigger anxiety and make it difficult to sleep at night. Cutting out caffeine or stopping caffeine after noon each day can also help you get a better night's sleep.

10. Stay at a healthy weight

Findings published in the journal of Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, show a link between obesity and depression, indicating that people who are obese may be more likely to become depressed. In addition, according to this study, people who are depressed are more likely to become obese. Researchers believe the link between obesity and depression may result from physiological changes that occur in the immune system and hormones with depression. If you have a weight problem, talk with your doctor about healthy ways to manage it with diet and exercise.

source site: click here to go to WebMd


Healing Your Emotional Relationship with Food
By Lori Radun, CEC
The other night I lay in bed watching Oprah’s 20th Anniversary DVD collection - a gift given to me by my best friend. Story after story of incredible people that have touched and changed the life of Oprah caused my tears of inspiration to flow.
One particular person I really identified with – the story of Rudine. Rudine suffered severely from anorexia nervosa. She wanted so badly to battle and win this condition, but her emotional relationship with food and herself was so damaged.
You see, I can identify with this woman because at the age of 13, I came face to face with anorexia nervosa. It followed 2 very painful events in my life.
Looking back, I now understand I was unable to cope with all the emotions I encountered. The anger and hatred I felt – because I couldn't outwardly express it – was turned inward. I began to hate my body and food became the enemy.
I exercised like crazy and eventually ate only 1 small meal per day. After finally breaking that cycle, I swung to the other extreme and began to binge eat late at night. Other things replaced food until, at the age of 21, I got serious about facing and healing my emotions.

I share this with you because I think it's important to understand the devastating effects our relationship with food can have on our health. Maybe you’ve never suffered from anorexia nervosa, bulimia or obesity, but your emotional relationship with food is still worth examining.
In an ideal relationship with food, you eat when you’re hungry and you eat the healthy foods your body needs. Your body weight is healthy and you aren’t experimenting with the latest diet.
Healthy eating is your way of life, and your physical wellbeing reflects that – not just your body, but your energy level, mood and internal health as well.
So come on this journey with me and let’s explore some of the common emotions or situations that can trigger unhealthy eating. Pay attention to whether any of these strike home for you.
If so, try substituting some of the alternatives I suggest so you can begin healing your emotional relationship with food.

Angry Eater: When you're very angry with yourself or someone else, do you turn to food? Maybe you’re mad because you made a mistake and so you beat yourself up with food. Try confronting and expressing your anger in a healthy way and then forgive and let it go.

Stress Eater: According to Dr. Phil, “when you're under stress, your body releases hormones that automatically stimulate your appetite and set off cravings, prompting you to eat huge quantities of fattening food”. Take 15 minutes of quiet alone time or a 15 minute brisk walk instead.

Convenience Eater: You don’t have time or don’t feel like making something healthy to eat, so you grab whatever is convenient – fast food or take home, chips, donuts, etc. Keep healthy and convenient foods around the house and at the office – fruit, granola bars, Lean Cuisines, string cheese and yogurt.

Tired Eater: Morning comes around or the afternoon energy runs out and you need a kick of sugar to keep you going. You load up on cookies, cake or other sugar snack foods and you’re off and running until you crash. Try getting 8 hours of sleep at night, exercising regularly, taking vitamins or taking a short cat nap.

No Waste Eater: Were you taught to never waste food? Were you reminded of all the poor children that had nothing to eat? Now you can't bring yourself to leave anything on your plate or throw away any food. Put smaller portions on your plate.
Give yourself permission to stop eating when you’re full. Work in a homeless shelter serving food or give food to the poor so you don’t feel guilty.
Self-Disgust Eater: You look at yourself and hate what you see; you eat or deprive yourself of food to mask the feelings you have and so starts the cycle of abuse.
Work on loving yourself in every way you can – pamper yourself, repeat positive affirmations, stick up for yourself. Invest in gaining confidence and self-esteem.

Boredom Eater: This is me. I don’t feel like doing laundry or cleaning the house. I’m tired of working, playing cars or watching TV. It’s cold outside and so I open the food cabinet. Hmmm. I wonder what I can eat. Get creative and find something fun and different to do. Switch projects and start something new. Make a phone call to a friend.

Fear of Intimacy Eater: Do you eat to hide yourself and avoid getting too close to someone? Sometimes reaching out to people can be a very scary and hard thing to do. Maybe you’ve been hurt too many times by loved ones.
Seek help to heal your pain. Search for supportive and loving people that you can depend on. Take baby steps to reach out and trust someone.
Hopeless Eater: Have you just completely given up? Maybe you’ve tried too long to lose weight or given too much to your marriage and nothing seems to change. You feel hopeless and so you just say, “Who cares? I’m just going to eat whatever I want”.
Or maybe you’ve lost your appetite all together. Change your thoughts. Focus on the positive and keep a gratitude journal. Look for the bright side of everything. Search for the sunshine and you'll find it.
“See Food” Eater: You know the saying, “I’m on a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it”. Are you the type of eater that constantly grazes?
If the food is in front of you, you eat it without really thinking about it. You may or may not be hungry – it’s just a habit. Graze on low-fat and healthy foods. Keep the fattening foods at the grocery store. Work on being more conscious of how much food you're taking in.

Social Eater: You love to be around people and what better way to spend time with friends than going out to lunch or dinner. Socializing is great! Eating out is expensive and not always very healthy – not to mention the additional calorie intake.
Add a couple glasses of wine and you’ve consumed in one meal what you should have for the day. Limit your social gatherings at restaurants to once or twice a month. Start a walking group with friends. Participate in a movie or book club. Have a board game night and serve soup and salad.
Comfort Eater: Sadness or loneliness threatens to swallow you up. Depression seems to be your best friend. Food is your source of comfort. Somehow you feel better after indulging in your favorite meal and dessert.
Until the feelings strike again. It’s time to face your sadness or loneliness. Maybe you need to grieve the loss of someone or something. Perhaps you need to reach out more to a community of people. Developing a relationship with God may supply the consolation and companionship you need.
Whatever your relationship with food, ask yourself if it’s a healthy one. Facing your emotions head on is the only way to heal them. Denial only causes your feelings to go away temporarily.
When I watched the story of Rudine on Oprah, a recovering anorexic pleaded with her to feed her brain and give herself the nourishment that it needed. With sad-filled and hopeless eyes, Rudine simply said, “But how?”
Isn’t that the essential question we're all faced with when making change? How? Change starts with awareness. It’s fueled by desire and commitment. And it ends with taking action. Take the steps you need now to develop a healthy relationship with food.


Craving Carbs in Winter: Is It Depression?

What’s normal, what’s not?
By Kathleen Doheny WebMd Feature

If winter weather triggers carbohydrate cravings, you're not alone.  Many people snack more on carbohydrate-containing foods in winter, sometimes in an unconscious effort to boost their mood, says Judith Wurtman, PhD, a former scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-author of The Serotonin PowerDiet. 

How can you tell if your seasonal carbohydrate cravings are in the normal range or a possible symptom of winter depression?  

Carbohydrate Cravings: What's Known?

If you're on a weight loss diet that emphasizes boosting protein and cutting down extremely on carbohydrates, that might explain your craving, whatever the season, says Evelyn Tribole, RD, a dietitian in Newport Beach, Ca., and author of Healthy Homestyle Cooking. 

She's seen this kind of carbohydrate craving in dieters she counsels. "It's a survival mechanism," she says. "You don't want to kill for a piece of broccoli, but you'd kill for a piece of bread." It's a clear signal, she says, that your body needs more carbs and not an abnormal craving.

But if you aren't dieting and find yourself eating more carbs once the weather turns chilly, that's a common habit in those with seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, sometimes called the "winter blues," Wurtman tells WebMD.

With her husband, MIT professor Richard J. Wurtman, Judith Wurtman has long researched carbohydrates and their link to depression. The Wurtmans published a landmark article about it in Scientific American in 1989 and numerous others in medical journals since then.

What they have found:

  • These "carbohydrate cravers" can eat an additional 800 or more calories a day. While many carb cravers are overweight or obese, others may control their weight by exercising more, eating less at meals, or turning to low-fat carbohydrate foods such as popcorn without butter.
  • Carbohydrate cravers seem to unconsciously turn to the high-carb foods to boost mood. In another study, the Wurtmans found that carbohydrate cravers reported being less depressed after eating high-carb snack foods, while non-carb-cravers said they felt sleepy after eating them.

When carb cravers eat the high-carb food, they feel better in about 20 minutes, Wurtman tells WebMD. That's because when you eat carbohydrates, you make more serotonin, the "feel-good" hormone that is also boosted when you are on an antidepressant."It's our attempt to undo the depression," she says.

Your Carbohydrate Cravings: Normal or Not?


To decide if your carb cravings in winter are normal or not, analyze them, suggests Wurtman and Edward Abramson, PhD, a psychologist and professor emeritus at California State University, Chico, who wrote the book Emotional Eating. Ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are the cravings seasonal? 
    The carb cravings associated with seasonal affective disorder (SAD) have ups and downs by season, says Wurtman. "It has to be present in the fall and winter and has to disappear in the spring and summer," she says, to be associated with the most common type of SAD. (Other SAD symptoms: extreme fatigue, sleeping too much, weight gain, difficulty concentrating.) "It may take a year before you know that is what it is," Wurtman says.
  2. What happens right before the craving hits?
    "Craving is associated with emotional turmoil of some sort," Abramson says. That turmoil might be depressed mood.
  3. What time of day are the cravings strongest? 
    Carbohydrate cravers are most likely to experience them in the late afternoon and evening, Abramson says. That could be because the kinds of emotions that tend to contribute to cravings get worse as the day goes on, he says, especially if your depression is mild. You may be caught up in the hustle and bustle of work and family all day, and then, when things calm down, become bummed out, for instance, that your spouse is paying more attention to TV than to you, he says.

Carbohydrate Cravings: The Brownie Fan

Consider the carbohydrate craver once counseled by Wurtman, whose cravings were clearly out of control.

In the summer, the woman worked in an office all day and regularly walked for exercise after work. But as soon as the days grew shorter and the temperature dropped, the women told Wurtman she would go home and hole up, too tired to go anywhere.

One evening, feeling more depressed than usual, she got a craving for a brownie from her favorite bakery, four blocks away. She bundled up and walked to the bakery to get some brownies.

"I have to have those brownies," she told Wurtman. 

She would buy them many times a week during the winter, Wurtman recalls. "She was driven to go out in the cold, icy wind to get the brownie. That's the nature of the craving."

And that is the type of craving linked with seasonal depression, she says.

Carbohydrate Cravings: Healthier Comfort

If you've decided your carbohydrate cravings are out of control and you may be depressed, experts suggest seeking help from your physician or therapist.

On your own, you can also gain some control over the carbohydrate cravings. Here's how:

  • Time your eating to accommodate your cravings. Experts agree the carb cravings grow stronger as the day goes on. So eat as healthfully as possible at breakfast and lunch, focusing on protein-rich foods, Wurtman says.  "In the afternoon, by the time the sun and your mood start sinking, have a carb snack -- popcorn or breakfast cereal -- around 4 p.m." Then for dinner, choose pasta, rice, or waffles.   
  • Focus on carbs that are "slow foods." One of Tribole's favorites:  hot chocolate. "You get carbs in the milk and the sweetened chocolate," she says. "It's hard to guzzle hot chocolate, so you are going to savor it."
  • Turn to carb-rich stews. Try soups and stews with plenty of carbs, such as potatoes, in the winter, Tribole says.  Besides filling you up and satisfying the carb craving, it can help when you don't feel like cooking.  "Cook the stews once on the weekend," Tribole says, suggesting a big pot full, "and you've got meals the rest of the week."

source site: WebMd

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