This morning I woke up feeling okay, nothing out of the ordinary. “Okay” is how I wake up most days, because the depression is almost always there. The funny thing about it is that I do consider myself a morning person. But at this point in my life I can pretty much tell how the day is going to pan out depending on how “okay” I feel in the mornings. I am given an emotional agenda in which I then have to mentally figure out how to do gymnastics over it all day to function. It is an exhausting task which most days I find I am an unsuccessful and partially blame it on how eating makes me feel. Because I eat about 5-6 small meals, I find that the bouts of sadness carry throughout the day. I’ve never felt energized after eating …unless I’ve eaten a huge burger, which doesn’t happen very often.
I confess that I am living with a double edged sword here. Always waking up in the morning very hungry and ready to eat, but anxious and upset because I know that eating is going to make me feel worse, but I know not eating is unhealthy and will undo all the work I have spent years trying to correct, so again I would be left upset. I have always had problems with food and my mental health, but up until a few months ago I never thought twice about how to the two were actually psychologically and neurologically related. Could what we are eating and our gut health really be the cause of our mental states?
I could bet that a handful of us are aware that depression can cause irregular eating habits, but what about eating causing depression? This morning after stabbing my beloved eggs into oblivion and consuming them shamelessly along with my avocado, chicken bacon and poverty serving size of fruit, I began to get really depressed. Shocking, I know! Lol
I have been having these reoccurring feelings of sadness, fatigue, and lack of motivation after I eat for as long as I can remember. My issues around food have been present for decades, but this morning I decided to try to pay closer attention to what my body was really telling me. At first I just thought I was sad about my food being gone, which would make sense if you understand eating disorders, but I started to explore the feelings and began a body scan.
Check 1. How much food did you actually just eat?
Check 2. Could it be a sugar crash?
Check 3. Would your meal be considered a substantial breakfast?
Check 4. Are you actually still HUNGRY or are you EMOTIONALLY HUNGRY?
Check 5. Is your stomach upset because it’s full/empty/bloated? Or are you just upset you ate?
Check 6. What is your body communicating to your brain?
Check 7. Could you having an allergic reaction?
The answers to my scan…
I ate 289 calories of whole foods which would be considered a substantial meal for a person my size. The only sugar would be from my fruit, which less than 4grams of sugar, so no crash. My stomach did hurt and did not feel “empty” so I knew right there I was feeling emotionally hungry, but yes I was also bloated, again assisting in the elevation of depression. My brain was communicating that I did not feel good, which would make sense to feeling depressed and would cause me to want to emotionally eat to trigger the repose of more dopamine secretion. Lastly, I could very well be eating foods that I am allergic too, we all could be. Check 6 was where I knew I needed to look into, check 6 is where I have the least amount of knowledge, but have some education on the correlation between the Vagus nerve and your gut, leading me to think about mental health and gut health.
I did as the typical 2017 specimen would do and pulled up the ol’ Google search bar, thanks modern technology for making education accessible. #noexcuses? Right?
And while I couldn’t find many actual academic articles or scientific research about “Depression symptoms increasing after eating,” it appears to be a common search and thread topic. I found some pretty interesting thoughts on Quora.com
On the flip side, there is an abundance of information in regards to gut health’s effects on mental health and how inflammation or bacteria in one’s gut could be the cause of your depression!? WOAH!!!
According to studies done by John F. Cryan, PhD, a neuropharmacologist and microbiome expert from the University College Cork in Ireland, “gut bacteria can alter the biochemistry of our brain.” There is also a wealth of information pertaining to other studies by dozens of Neuroscientists that have shown evidence that your gut is actually considered your second brain and contains 90% of your body’s serotonin!
“Second Brain- Scientists call this little brain the enteric nervous system (ENS). And it’s not so little. The ENS is two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your gastrointestinal tract from esophagus to rectum.” Article Here
“The gut is connected to the brain via the vagus nerve, the enteric nervous system, and the gut-brain axis. The vagus nerve extends from the brain stem down into the neck, thorax, and abdomen…. Research has shown the gut microbiota influences brain chemistry and behavior. For example, people who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the associated cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation, commonly suffer from depression and anxiety as well.”Article here
Are you experiencing something similar to me?! Leave me comment so we can put some thoughts on the table!!! We may be on to something guys.