By Alex McRobs
My Four Book Recommendations for Food & Mood
If you follow me on Instagram or are connected with me on Facebook, you know that I've recently gotten extremely passionate about the link between the food we eat and our mental health.
Doctors always said to me, "Eat Healthy" - but I realize now that I had NO idea what that actually meant. How much of what nutrients should I be eating? What foods should people with mood disorders generally avoid for more stability?
It turns out there is an entire field of Nutritional Psychiatry - and I am just diving into it. (I'm actually now a student again at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition - and I am SO excited to begin bringing this information and knowledge to the Mindful Life Practice!)
I recently shared the new nutritional plan I've been on for my mental health and other health conditions, and people have been asking me lots of questions - so I wanted to share my top book recommendations for you if you're curious about learning more about how the food you're eating affects your mood.
Before I share this I want to re-iterate that I am still pro-mood medication. I took mood medication for eight years! You can make these lifestyle changes in tandem with taking medication - OR you can do these lifestyle changes as a pre-treatment before turning to medication. (Or you can make no changes at all and ignore this post!) I am not a doctor, I just want to share what I've learned.
1 Own Your Self by Dr Kelly Brogan
This is the book where it all began. Recommended to me by Niamh, a graduate of my Yoga Teacher Training and student in the 300 Hour program right now. Kelly Brogan is a psychiatrist who has done the research and has found no studies that depression is due to a chemical imbalance in the brain. She instead argues that psychiatric "conditions" can be viewed as symptoms of nutritional sensitivities or deficiencies, toxic exposure, trauma and self-defeating beliefs. Dr. Brogan believes that our emotions - fear, anxiety, depression, shame, are a normal part of the human experience - and we should be feeling them, not numbing them away. She has developed a groundbreaking program called The Vital Mind Reset which aids patients in having a holistic recovery from mental illness in many categories - nutritionally, spiritually, and more. Kelly Brogan advocates for the removal of certain categories of food such as gluten, dairy, sugar, caffeine - for the complete recovery for her patients.
2 Eat to Beat Depression and Anxiety by Dr. Drew Ramsey. Similar to Dr. Kelly Brogran, Dr. Drew Ramsey is a Nutritional Psychiatrist. He is also a farmer and grew up on a farm. He was shocked when he went to medical school how little he was taught about food and how it impacts your mental health. Dr. Drew has developed a six week program for eating to beat mental health that includes the integration of greens, eating the rainbow, and also making local food connections such as visiting local farmers markets and hosting potlucks.
3 The Glucose Revolution by Jessie Inchauspe. Ok, this book isn't specifically on mental health - but it was tremendously helpful for me. When I started on my food journey I replaced a lot of my food like croissants, bread, etc - with fruit filled smoothies. I was starting every single day with a burst of sugar - not realizing that that was leading me to have a glucose spike and then a glucose crash. In this book, Jessie Inchauspe explains how most of us suffer from too much glucose in our system. The symptoms include: cravings, fatigue, infertility, hormonal issues, acne, wrinkles… And over time, the development of conditions like type 2 diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, cancer, dementia, and heart disease. For myself, I believe my glucose spikes and crashes were triggering mood episodes. The best tip I took from this book is to start every day with a savoury meal - for example, I start every day with some greens, protein, and if I do want something sweet I'll finish my breakfast with berries. I have found this to be tremendously helpful because if I have a glucose spike early in the day, then I crave sugar throughout the rest of the day.
4 Recovery 2.0 by Tommy Rosen. Ok, I'm cheating because I haven't read this book yet - HOWEVER I did have Tommy as a guest on the Sober Yoga Girl Podcast earlier this year, and his episode was tremendously inspiring. He speaks about food addiction/sugar addiction in the episode and how it was the gateway to his later addiction issues. Tommy teaches people how to enjoy being in the kitchen and make healthy, nutritious food!
Do you have any other books you would add to this list? And what do you think of the ones I have recommended? Let me know. This article was originally published in the January Issue of the Sober Girls Yoga Magazine. Click here to read the full magazine.