WBC Nutrition Committee – Food and Your Mood: Nutrition and Mental Health
By Dr. Phillip Goglia
The documentary ‘Super Size Me’ is a very extreme depiction of how food can make someone feel. In this 2004 movie, Morgan Spurlock sets out to eat only McDonald’s food 3 times per day for 30 days to explore the connection between the obesity epidemic and the increased intake of fast food in our country. He consumes nothing, not even water, unless it comes from McDonald’s, and if he’s ever asked to ‘super size’ a meal, he has to say yes, hence the title. In addition, he restricts his physical activity.
Not only does the diet wreak havoc on his physical health, in terms of weight gain, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, but it takes a huge toll on his mental health. By the middle of the month of this fast-food diet, he claimed he was suffering from massive headaches and had never been so depressed in his life. In addition, his energy level was extremely low.
The old saying “you are what you eat” may have some truth to it. Most of us have likely experienced, in one way or another, how food can make us feel bad after eating it. Maybe you’ve felt uncomfortable and tired after a big Thanksgiving meal or energized to start your morning after a healthy fruit smoothie. Food affects both our physical and mental health.
Depression is very common in our society for a variety of reasons. It is sometimes a secondary condition associated with people who have chronic health conditions or disabilities and face unique problems and challenges which may place them at increased risk. Depression is a serious illness and it is very important to see a health care professional for treatment if you are experiencing signs of depression. Good nutrition is an important component of an improved mood and an increased sense of wellbeing but it is not a substitute for medical care.