So how exactly does food affect your mental health? Consider my recent experience, I set up my appointments so I can take a lunch break around noon or 1pm. For lunch I usually alternate between a left over meal from last night’s dinner, or the occasional sandwich.
Yesterday, I did something different, I stopped by a pizza buffet on the way to the office for lunch. About an hour and a half after lunch I noticed a significant cloudiness in my thinking process, which seemed to flare up when I took notes. I also found myself mildly irritated for reasons I could not explain.
I have actually read about this before, and I even wrote a post on depression and foods that can help alleviate depression. Consider this, if most antidepressants are designed to increase the transmission of serotonin between neurons in the brain, then where does serotonin come from? More specifically, where is serotonin produced?
80% of serotonin is produced in our guts while the rest are produced in our central nervous system. While the scientific community has known for a long time about certain types of foods which influence our moods, I think it’s something most professionals and the rest of the public take for granted.
The foods we eat does influence how our biology produces serotonin and subsequently our mood, and this post shows how. Based on what I read, it appears the extra carbs I consumed from the pizza slices rapidly boosted my serotonin production, but briefly. Which was probably followed by a drastic decrease in production which led to my mild irritable mood.
The moral of the story is that what we eat also plays a role in our mood and overall mental health. I am going to stick to my leftovers and the occasional subway. In the mean time, if you want to do some reading on your own, I would recommend a copy of the food-mood solution written by renowned nutritionist Jack Challan. Besides recommendations for a healthy lifestyle, Jack discusses types of foods and supplements people should consume in order to help regulate their moods.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
People are competitive in nature, put simply we like to win. So what happens when we have experienced wrong doing at the will of others? The natural inclination is to retaliate and when retaliation is not feasible, people have a bad habit of playing the role of the victim and complaining almost endlessly.
Fundamentally the brain is wired to help the body survive, but mere surviving does nothing to bring about happiness. Happiness comes from a genuine sense of thriving. Let’s say you were raised by emotionally and physically abusive parents, which led you to become wired towards being on the look out for emotional and abusive people. It then becomes highly probable that you will become so accustomed to abusive people that the story of your life would be about transitioning out of one abusive relationship and unintentionally towards another.
Contrary to what some may believe, we don’t have to remain victims of our past, we can learn to thrive past surviving. So how does anyone make the transition from surviving to thriving? Such a transition involves exploring your current patterns of beliefs and changing them to beliefs that are more meaningful and purposeful to you.
For example, if you were to hyper focus on your mistreatment by others, in the past and present, without realizing so, you would have bought into the belief that no one should mistreat you. At first glance this belief would not seem out of place, but imagine if the following where your life’s motto;
“No one ever should mistreat me, ever! My motto in life is that any and everyone who I encounter should be courteous to me. In the event they are not, I will make it my mission that they right their wrong or be properly shamed.”
This is what the motto of negative people sounds like, rather pathetic. Negative people tend to focus on things that have gone wrong in their lives, be it with people, places and things. Grieving is important, but it should not be the focus of your existence. Regardless of what you have experienced, your experiences with negativity would pale in comparison to a sense of meaning and purpose you have ascribed to your life.
When we create meaning and purpose in our lives, we tend to look for and create positive experiences in our lives. These positive experiences help us transition through negative experiences. So if you have personal relationships you cherish, encounters with others who reject you would become insignificant. Furthermore, your focus on yourself and with your relationships with others would be more focused on the positive experiences you seek and create for yourself.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.
Our thoughts influence our realities, so it stands to reason that beliefs about low self worth, lead to feelings of low self worth, which in turn leads to behaviors that betray how we really feel about ourselves. The resulting natural and logical consequences lead to a reinforcement about our beliefs of low self worth.
In this video I discuss how I use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to treat Depression.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and Life Coach
Imagine if all of your life to present you were promised a prize. Let’s say that in order to gain access to this prize that there are certain things you have to accomplish, certain challenges you have to overcome.
So through great pains and effort, you take on the challenges and overcome them, one by one. Until after years of hard work, it came time for you to receive your prize, only to be told that there was never any prize.
This hypothetical scenario can easily be applied to any number of stories where people have been let down. For some people there is nothing more hurtful than investing into an experience with the expectation of a reward for your efforts only to be disappointed.
One of the chief feelings that gets in the way of getting past grief stemming from disappointment is the idea that you have been deceived, cheated or wasted your time and energy.
What if you came to learn that getting past disappointment is easier that you realize? When we experience disappointment, what keeps us emotionally stuck in the grief of disappointment is the context we use to frame the experience.
If you think back to the last time you struggled in getting past your grief from disappointment, you will probably agree it’s because you invested a lot of time in the experience, with the expectation of an outcome, and because you believed that the route you took to achieve the desired outcome was the “only” route you or any one could have taken to achieve the desired outcome. Furthermore you probably also believed that the desired outcome was the “ultimate” outcome you or anyone could ever archive to accomplish any a sense of happiness and fulfillment to varying degrees.
This linear style of thinking is what keeps us stuck in grieving what we believed could have been. Take for example, two months ago my son’s school threw a Halloween party, one of the highlights of the evening was walking through a haunted house. The school library had been converted into a haunted house and we got the thrill of going through a door, and traveling from one partitioned room to the next, while staff and students took turns in giving us their best fright, from hidden and unsuspecting places. The experience of traveling through the make shift haunted house was a linear experience from start to finish, because we transitioned from room A to room B to room C to room D before we finally existed the haunted house.
With this scenario in mind, imagine how frustrated it would have been if we entered room A, then went to room B only to be told that we could not gain access to room C? This would mean that without accessing room C we would not be able to access room D. This is why people either get depressed or angry over their feelings of disappointment. They feel there is no other way to get to the next level and beyond, if their travel path has become blocked.
Here is a visual representation of my explanation of a linear style of thinking;
Now imagine thinking in a multi verse context. To further explain, I will share another story. In my village, my father’s immediate younger brother built a home on the other side of the street from my parent’s home. While my parents built a two story home, my uncle built a one story home, with roughly the same number of rooms as my parents’ two story home. How did he manage this? Rather than stack rooms one on top the other as my father had done, my uncle designed his house in a circular pattern. With a courtyard in the middle of the structure, surrounded by all the rooms of the home. This meant that from the courtyard, you could simply turn and walk towards any room of your choice, versus my parents’ home where you had enter the front door into a greeting room, into a hallway, into the stairway, etc. I would say that my parents’ home was linearish in design, while my uncle’s home was multi verse-ish in design.
Using the ABC model to represent the multi verse style of thinking, it would look something like this diagram.
With multi verse thinking, a set back or disappointment becomes an opportunity to embark on another experience. If a desired goal or outcome is not realized it is interpreted as there being another bigger and more fulfilling outcome waiting for you to define and realize. This means that the time spent in pursuing an outcome not realized is seen as experience gained to be used as leverage for another challenge instead of time squandered.
When we come to realize that our path to happiness and fulfillment comes from within, only then will we acknowledge that our thoughts do indeed create our realities.
Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach.