Depression led sugar craving and its effect on our mental health
Are you feeling low, lack of energy and enthusiasm? Do you dislike speaking to people and yearn to sit aloof? Do you find yourself near the refrigerator for attacking those chocolates or ice-creams? If yes, then you might be suffering from sugar cravings and Depression.
Depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to everyday challenges!! Many people with depression suffer from anxiety too. They exhibit disturbed sleep and appetite, guilt feelings and low self-esteem, reduced concentration and other medically unexplainable symptoms.
Anxiety on the other hand is your body’s natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear. For instance, the first day of school, going for a job interview or performing on stage can cause nervousness to some extent. Anxiety can be intense and debilitating
If you feel angry or frustrated within moments of feeling happy or elated, you are experiencing mood swings. These unanticipated and dramatic emotional changes occur due to no reason.
Always remember, we’ve all had bad and sad days, and while it tempts to sit beside the window and stay alone when feeling low, it doesn’t really help every time.
However, it’s not unusual to crave for high carbs, sugar, sweets and chocolates when you are feeling low or depressed. These sugar cravings can be your body’s way to let you know that it is deprived of something you need like a specific vitamin or mineral.
Why do we get a sugar craving when feeling low???
Research shows that cravings can also be driven by memories rather than bodily cues (Tiggemann M, Kemps. E. The phenomenology of food cravings: the role of mental imagery). Regularly having sugar at certain time of the day creates a mental link- it feeds the craving!!
For instance, whenever you feel low in the night, you indulge on the chocolate cookies at the same time every night. Your desire for chocolates may be less about satisfying hunger and more out of a habit and regularity. People who suffer from depression are very vulnerable to the so-called sugar’s evil power.
Carbohydrate cravings are related to decrease in the serotonin levels. Eating a high carbohydrate diet, helps your body to make more serotonin, the feel-good hormone.
Why do you need to ditch sugar for better mental health??
While Ditching the sweet stuff can result in a healthier you, it’s the effect sugar has on our mental health that’s worth taking a second thought
1. Mood changes
Recent research indicates that sugary treats do not have any positive effect on our mood. High sugar consumption is linked to recurrent mood swings in both men and women.
It causes sudden peaks and troughs in your blood glucose causing fatigue, irritability, dizziness, insomnia, profuse sweating, forgetfulness, polyphagia, digestive distress and blurred vision
2. Sugar reduces stress dealing ability
Sugar makes you feel less frazzled by reducing the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis in your brain, which controls your stress response
3. Difficult to restrict sugar intake
People who consume high amounts of sugar in their diets can also experience the physiological sensation of withdrawal if they suddenly stop consuming sugar
Withdrawing from sugar can actually cause many side effects like-
4. Sugar increases Chances of Depression
There is a direct link between consuming high sugar diets and Depression. High sugar diets affect the balances in many brain chemicals. These imbalances can cause depression or other mental disorders
5. Sugar obliterates your brain power
Excessive sugar consumption can impair cognitive functioning. Consuming high sugar beverages or sweets impairs decision making ability and memory too!
Sugar also diverts the supply of other essential nutrients in mood. For example, Chromium which maintains blood sugar levels
Coping with these cravings when you are feeling low
- Feeling Sad, anxious or Lonely?? Identify your feelings, think and then reflect on the action you take. Try replacing the comfort food with other ways of comforting.
For instance, going for a walk, taking a warm and relaxing water bath or reading a good novel. Sometimes it’s just that you might not be upset, but bored.
- Indulge yourself in regular physical activity, dancing or yoga. It boosts endorphins, which can improve your mood too!!
- Many times, when you feel hungry, you actually may be dehydrated. Refill your body with a glass of water
- Practice moderation- Sugar cravings are most seen when you are hungry. Avoid fasting for long-long hours. Break the gap with some healthy snacks.
Mindful and well-planned eating helps you plan your meals and snacks to avoid nibbling all day. Here a food journal or a food diary can be of a great help.
Always remember!! No food is “bad” in and of itself. Anything in excess is harmful and everything in moderation is useful!!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sneha Jain, Dietician
Sneha is a Post graduate with specialization in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is a university topper and holds 5+ years of experience in Apollo hospitals, VLCC, slimsutra and first cry fit-kids . She has successfully counselled clients all over India for weight loss, weight gain, diabetes, hypertension, PCOD, hypothyroid, Pregnancy and lactation and growth charts for children. She has her own diet consultation e-clinic (diet_diariez)
She believes in customized diets and eating local and seasonal foods. Her counselling not only involves diet planning, but also lifestyle modification and stress relief strategies.