Do we eat junk because we are depressed or are we depressed because we eat junk? It’s the age-old chicken or the egg question. Have you ever felt a little blue and just crave a big bowl of Kraft macaroni and cheese or a greasy cheeseburger with fries while drowning away your sorrows with a large milkshake? You’re not alone. We look to these comfort foods because we believe that it will do just what the name suggests: comfort us. But how many of us actually feel better after indulging in the bright orange cheese, the grease, the fat, and the heavy cream? Most of the time, we just feel even bluer.
There is some new evidence that shows that junk food does more than just damage our internal organs and our physical appearance. It can also attack our mental health.
Depression is a serious problem, especially in the United States. A large number of Americans show signs of depression, especially among college students. There is evidence that almost half of college students experience symptoms of depression, and these symptoms can come from more than just stress. Studies are showing that depression is a “disease of the body as well as the mind.” When we don’t exercise regularly and our diets consist of added sugars and trans fats (think processed foods), internal inflammation increases and our bodies react as though we are ill. Our bodies force our energies inward to attack the sickness, causing us to become unattached and indifferent to outside stimuli.
There is still a lot of research that needs to be done surrounding the correlation and causation between the processed foods that we eat and our long-term mood, but there seems to be a lot of promise with this direction of thought. By changing our diet and lifestyle, we can improve our mental stability and well-being. There is a lot to be said for the relationship between feeling good physically and being happy mentally.
Our diets are a factor in our pursuit to be happy physically and mentally. So, stop for a second before you eat that large pack of Oreos after a hard day because you may be putting more than just your waistline at risk. Instead, find nature’s own comfort foods that will nourish your body and your mind.