Eating Disorders and Nutrition: Why Your Brain Needs Green Veggies

Eating Disorders and Nutrition: Why Your Brain Needs Green Veggies

As a dietitian who specializes in the treatment of eating disorders, I enjoy educating my clients about the role of nutrition in eating disorder recovery. Eating well isn’t just about weight gain or weight loss – it’s about feeding your brain so you can think clearly and feel in balance emotionally. You’ve probably heard this statement from your parents, teachers, or dietitians – “Eat your green veggies!” If you are in recovery from an eating disorder, this may seem like yet another “food rule,” which you either take to an extreme by over consuming these foods, or, you may rebel and eat very few green veggies. Have you ever wondered, “Why does my brain need green veggies?” Consuming enough folate-rich food is often talked about in the news as a way to assure having a healthy pregnancy. So, since folate so important for women who are pregnant, is folate important for non-pregnant women, and men, too? Recently, a great deal of research with folate has been done, which everyone should pay attention to, as it effects the health of the brain. Folate is commonly found in deep green veggies, such as spinach, asparagus, turnip greens, and broccoli. In addition, it is found in whole grain cereals, lentils, and black, navy or kidney beans. When we eat folate-rich food, it is converted in the intestine into a substance called L-Methylfolate, which goes into our brain and makes the neurotransmitters serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. You may have heard of the importance of having a good balance of these neurotransmitters in the brain, because of their role in having a balanced mood. Proper levels of serotonin, norepinephrine and...
Eating Disorders and Valentine’s Day Sadness

Eating Disorders and Valentine’s Day Sadness

February 14th is St. Valentine’s Day – which has been celebrated as a day of romance for many years. Approximately 150 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually, making this the second most popular card-sending day after Christmas (Source: History.com). And then there are all the flowers, jewelry and other gifts – and of course, chocolates in a heart-shaped box. If you are currently in a relationship with a “significant other,” then this time of year may be very special to you. However, if you have recently gone through a breakup – or, if you have been single for a while – then you might think of St. Valentine’s Day as “St. Sadness Day.” If your eating disorder (ED) seems like the only relationship you have, and you’re tempted to binge on those chocolates (or engage in other ED behaviors) – consider these strategies instead: Name Your Feelings: You may notice a sense of discomfort, or an awareness of low energy levels – see if you can get more specific, and identify the actual feelings you are experiencing. Sadness? Loneliness? Grief? Depression? Explore WHY You Have These Feelings: Perhaps you feel sad because you know that no one is going to buy you a romantic card or give you flowers. You might feel lonely, because you realize that you don’t have anyone to spend this “special day” with. Maybe you are thinking about previous years, when you were in a relationship – and you are grieving the loss of this relationship. You might even feel depressed, because you wonder if you will ever find that “special someone” to share your life with. Although these...
Robin Williams: Depression, Addiction and Suicide Risk

Robin Williams: Depression, Addiction and Suicide Risk

The Robin Williams suicide on August 11, 2014 took most people by surprise. How could someone who made us laugh until our sides ached, be aching within so much that he ended up taking his own life? Since his death, it has been revealed that he struggled with Depression, Alcoholism and other Drug Addictions, and was also in the early stages of Parkinson’s Disease. All of these issues could have been more than he believed he could handle – which could have led to hopelessness. The #1 indicator of Suicide Risk is hopelessness – a belief that things will never change, at least not for the better, and that a worsening of one’s situation would be intolerable. If you or someone you know ever expressed feeling hopeless, it’s important to get professional help immediately! Hopelessness can lead to suicidal thoughts, but there are many interventions which can shift hopelessness back into hope. If you struggle with Eating Disorders, sometimes you might feel depressed. Try to observe the thoughts which can be underneath your depression, such as, “This eating disorder is taking a toll on me,” or, “I don’t know if I have what it takes to recover.” Gently notice these thoughts, and then shift your focus to some things that are going well right now in your life, or things you’re looking forward to. Consider making a gratitude list of 5-10 things which can help shift your mood to feeling uplifted and hopeful. Hold onto hope! No matter what medical or mental/emotional diagnosis you may have, and no matter what your current resources or life situation, the key is to ask for...