7 Foods to Help Fight Depression

There’s no magic cure to stop depression. It takes a lot of work. Having a solid treatment plan is the best way to combat it. But there are other things you can do on your own to help your mood and keep depression at bay… that includes what you eat. We all know we should be eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains while cutting down on processed food. But sometimes that feels like an unrealistic goal. Instead, just try to incorporate a few of these 7 foods that will improve your mood and fight depression.

1. Carbohydrates and Whole Grains

pablo.pngWhen looking for foods to help fight depression definitely consider whole grains. These high-fiber “smart carbs” are great for a quick mood boost. Complex carbohydrates release seratonin, making you feel happier. Try to avoid simple carbs and sugary foods. Instead turn to whole grains, brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and whole wheat pasta. They can really help with stress.

2. Low-Fat Dairypablo(1)

Dairy is great for your body for a variety of reasons, but low-fat dairy is the richest source of two important nutrients: calcium and vitamin D. In addition, dairy has specific proteins called peptides that help relax you and give you a sense well-being. Try skim milk, yogurt and low-fat cheeses.

3. Turkey

vegetables-glass-meal.jpgYou may associate tryptophan with feeling tired after eating a Thanksgiving meal, but it turns out the chemical in turkey also has big health benefits. Tryptophan stimulates seratonin production, giving you a natural happy feeling. Keep in mind most lean proteins are good for fighting depression, but turkey is the best option thanks to tryptophan. You might just want to take a nap after eating it!

4. Fatty Fish Like Salmon and Tuna
salmon-seafood-fish-restaurant-cuisine-gourmetIf you guessed omega-3 fatty acids for the reason why salmon and tuna are on the list, than you’re right. The fatty acids found in the fish have brain-boosting properties to help fight depression, according to research published in January 2014 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fatty fish is also good for overall health, they improve circulation and reduce inflammation in the body. It’s not just salmon and tuna that have these properties. Also try mackerel or bluefish! A serving a few times a week could do great things for your mental health!
5. Green Tea
green-tea-press-flowers-kitchen-drink-beverage.jpgGreen tea is a great source of antioxidants, but it’s also a great beverage for fighting depression. The amino acid known as theanine is naturally found in tea leaves and provides a natural anti-stress benefit. So if you’re a coffee drinker (like I am) try switching to cup of green tea every once in awhile to absorb some of its relaxing benefits.
6. Walnutswalnuts-nuts-peeled-baking
If you’re not a fish fan, or want another way to get those omega-3s, try walnuts. While most nuts are a great source of protein and healthy fats, walnuts are the best for fighting depression because they are one of the richest plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
7. Dark Chocolate
close-up-of-dark-chocolate-pieces-and-cocoaCan’t forget about desert! While most people would say they feel happier after eating chocolate, it turns out that chemically that might actually be true. Dark chocolate helps release seratonin and relaxes the blood vessels of the cardiovascular system. So in addition to tasting amazing, also know it really can make you feel better! It’s a good excuse for the next time you indulge.
There are a lot of great foods to help improve your mood or fight depression, but if you’re really struggling, just don’t leave it up to your diet. Talk to your doctor and counselor about the best treatment plan for your condition, but that does generally include making sure you’re taking care of your body. So try these foods they could make a big difference!
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Fighting Through the Winter

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I go through waves. Periods where I have a lot of energy and interest in writing, and periods where I can only focus on my required responsibilities. The latter time period is usually called winter. It’s hard for me to get the energy to sit down and write when it’s dark and cold. Now that spring is here I’m spending more and more time working on projects… and it’s coming just in time.

My digital marketing company is actually doing quite well. I have a few clients and it really feels like this is a viable business for me. This is a HUGE change from a year ago when I was on medical leave and not sure where I was going to turn next. Things were tight for awhile, but I’m finally making it all work. Check out my new website: warrcreativemarketing.com.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 6.23.51 PMNow that I’ve shamelessly plugged my job, here’s what else has been happening. I’ve become an Ambassador for a company called Quartet. They aim to help physicians recognize the signs of a behavioral health condition in patients, and get them the help they need. I’m a volunteer giving advice on the best way to talk about and receive help for mental illness. The other ambassadors are some of the strongest people I’ve gotten the pleasure to meet. Many of them dealing with chronic health conditions. I really feel like I’m making a difference and that’s the most important thing to me. I recently wrote a blog for Quartet for Mental Health Awareness Month. Click Here to check it out.

Many of you know I took an incredible trip to Europe. My boyfriend Austin and I made it to 6 countries in 17 days. I needed about 2 weeks just to recover. Immediately before we left I signed up to run the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. It’s a 10 mile run. The only reason I thought I might be able to do it is because most of it was flat or downhill. I wanted to challenge myself. I’ve only ever run a 5k… and not that well. But after losing two weeks of training to the Europe trip, and another week recovering from a stomach bug when I got back, I didn’t know if I’d ever cross the finish line. Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 6.37.25 PM.pngI decided no matter what I was going to do it. My mom came up from South Carolina to cheer me on which really meant the world to me. A week ago I set off from the starting line in North Philadelphia just hoping I could make it to the Navy Yard 10 miles away. Luckily I had a friend with me who is also a fairly slow runner. She was having knee problems and we vowed to take it easy. Somehow without walking any of the course, we made it across the finish line. I’m amazed and so happy I set this goal for myself and made it. and honestly it is a blast. If you’re ever interested in running a longer race. This one is the best, the fans along the way are so supportive and it’s hard to fail.

So I’m hoping this summer brings more good things. I’m still struggling with energy levels, but hopefully changing some medication soon will help with that. I just want to keep running, keep building my business and continue being a voice for others who struggle with behavioral health issues. Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

Rumination: How One Word Takes Over Your Life

**note: I actually dictated this post on my phone while I was driving from a friend’s back to Philly. When I didn’t have anyone to take my mind off the stress, and nowhere to go, I turned to my phone. I knew I couldn’t write so I spoke it- forgive the stream of consciousness writing. It was written a few weeks ago so any reference to time may be a little dated.

If you’ve ever dealt with depression or anxiety, doctors or psychologists will often talk about rumination- or how your thoughts ruminate to the point where you can’t let them go. While I’m making big strides in my fight against depression and anxiety this is the one thing that still constantly comes back to haunt me. These thoughts are things I can’t get out of my mind. Whether their rational or not they stick with me consume me until I’ve worked myself up into a frenzy or completely broken down.

Generally it happens when you have a lot of downtime. For me I think it happens most when I’m trying to go to sleep. I’ll be tired all day, and finally lay down in bed only to start stressing about things from the past…things that haven’t mattered in years… or completely irrational things I know aren’t even possible. Even when I tell myself it’s OK there’s nothing I can do, it’s a struggle to try and let it go.

The other time it happens a lot to me is during long car drive. While I try to occupy my mind with music or podcasts, every once in a while driving down the highway I start to feel anxious. I don’t even know what I’m anxious about. There doesn’t really have to be a reason, but I feel anxious. The scary thing is there’s not a lot I can do. I feel trapped in a small box. I can’t listen to guided meditations because I actively have to keep this car on the road. I could of course pull over if I really needed to and take a few minutes, or stop somewhere along the way to get my mind off of things, but sometimes all I want is to just be home. It seems the quickest way to get there is to just keep going.

A lot of things in my life feel like they’re getting so much better. My panic attacks happen much less frequently and more days are good days, but this loss of control over what I think about is painful. More than the thoughts themselves, the anxiety comes from knowing I can’t shake it off. It’s something I’m working on fighting but it really takes a lot of my energy.

I’ve been so happy to work for some really great people who understand that work-life balance is incredibly important. I’m also happy that my schedule is so flexible. If I have a bad day I can take time for myself, and that helps the recovery.

But between trying to pay the bills and getting better one major thing has slipped through the cracks: this blog. I’m OK with putting it on the back burner while I try and get myself together but I really wanted to try and create a safe space for others may be going through something similar. I wanted to create recipes so that other people who also struggle with an eating disorder can maybe feel better about their relationship with food, but while the recipes are stacking up I’m either too busy or too exhausted to post. I tell myself it’s OK, and my therapist tells me it’s OK, but it still bothers me.

I know I’m not the only one who has to choose to prioritize how to spend their days. Many people struggle with the exhaustion and the rumination much worse than I do.We’re not lazy because we can’t work in an office every day and we’re not lazy because we take lots of naps, we do it because we have to.

This week has been especially hard because I’ve been very sick. My body doesn’t quite know how to shake it, and because I can’t be as active it feels like some of my symptoms of anxiety are getting worse. It’s funny that something as simple as a cold can feel like it’s derailed a lot of your personal growth. It’s weeks like this that remind me I still have a long way to go. And that might be an expensive journey considering Obamacare doesn’t have the best co-pays for outpatient mental health, but that’s a whole different blog post. (Trust me after I got my 2017 quote, I’m definitely writing one.)

For now I’ll just say that even when you think you’re doing so much better (and you are!) it doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s a much longer journey than any of us ever expect whether it’s extremely mild or severe it’s a long battle.

So for all of us suffering from some sort of mental illness- thank you to all of those people in our lives who are patient while we continue to improve. It means the world to have people who understand it’s not an overnight fix. And as for me I’m working on different methods to combat my ruminating thoughts this blog post was one of them. I can honestly say now that I’ve reached the end of it, that writing it (or dictating it rather) really did help.

Going Back to Work After Depression

Once I officially left my job in broadcast news, I didn’t know when or how I would go back to work. For awhile I was on medical leave, but at some point when I got a lot healthier and still realized i needed a break from news, I officially left. Now that the paychecks weren’t coming in what was I supposed to do? And was I healthy enough to go back to working 40 hours a week? The answer at the time was no.

I wasn’t worried about my next career step at the time. I figured if worse comes to worse, I would work at a coffee shop part time while I got myself figured out. But I got lucky, and I fell into something really amazing.

I started off looking for freelancing jobs on a website called Upwork. In the meantime I started dog sitting for the website DogVacay. (But come on… PUPPIES!)

I picked up a few freelance jobs and fell in with two really amazing jobs. The first is helping a phenomenal woman grow her podcast. Check it out. It’s called The Big Leap Show, and it talks about women entrepreneurs and businesswomen who have made a big changes in their lives. It resonated with me considering I just went through by own big change.

The second job is incredible. I’m freelancing with a start up real estate company, and doing their digital marketing. It’s amazing because they’re investing a lot in me, and I’ve gotten a chance to learn so much already. I only had a little work to begin with, but they liked what I did so I got more and more work.

I think the best thing about freelancing is that I work from home. I don’t have the stress of getting up and going in to work every day. I still work… a lot. But it helps my stress and anxiety to be able to work on my own hours for the most part. Plus I can still watch the dogs for a little cash on the side since I’m home all the time. (YAY PUPPIES!)

So sometimes even when I have really bad days, I realize I’m so lucky. I’ve somehow started to pick up the pieces. I’m finding a job I’m happy with, but is low stress and still gives me the flexibility to heal.

If you’re battling depression or are falling apart at your job, know you’re not stuck. I somehow found something great that works for me.

 

Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News

With some inspiration from a former employer and mentor, I decided to begin to talk about paying attention to how our co-workers are handling stress in the workplace. The post on LinkedIn is titled Struggling With Depression in Broadcast News. Check out that link. For those of you who want a little more background before reading the article, keep reading here.

B_UvXfxWsAEeZOHFor 6 years I worked as a TV producer at several local stations. If you don’t know anything about the industry it’s rough. Many of the shifts have bad hours, when breaking news happens get used to long days and on top of it all you’re often dealing with very sensitive and upsetting topics. It’s hard and it takes its toll.

The day of the Boston Marathon bombing, I was in the control room live on the air. Then the news broke. For the next four hours I was managing the details, setting up interviews, giving my anchor new information, guiding the production crew, making new graphics and getting new video on the air. I did have help, but still it was a lot. It wasn’t until after I was done for the day I realized the gravity of what had happened. The saddest thing for me that day, was that I didn’t even have any emotions about the events until after the fact. It was a job, but realizing how desensitized you’ve become to tragedy is upsetting.

And I only work for the news! There are so many people working hard jobs with long hours and stressful situations. Look at hospital workers, firefighters and policemen. That’s just a small number of jobs that can wear you out. And if you’re like me, you care too much about what you’re doing.

So we need to begin to help each other and look out for warning signs of depression. Many people look ok, but are suffering in silence. We should at least be able to talk about this more so people aren’t afraid to ask for help. I’ve gotten a lot of great responses from this article. So please check it out. Let me know what you think. Start a conversation. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, sad and detached, you’re not alone. Many of us have been through it. I’m not a doctor, I’m not an expert, but I’ve someone who has been through it who is willing to listen.

Kara

Living with Depression: How My Dog Helped Me

stella and karaMy dog Stella is a quirky little mutt. I love her. When she was young, she was super energetic. Now that she’s older she has calmed down significantly. Here’s a little bit about how she helped me through my depression.

Dogs are the best. We know that. I hope your pet cheers you up as much as mine does!

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Welcome to Treat Yourself Tuesdays!

If you’ve ever watched Parks and Recreation, you know the importance of a “Treat Yourself Day.”

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And really, who can argue with the wisdom we’ve learned from Parks and Rec?!

But seriously, we do all need to treat ourselves once in awhile. It’s hard… I know from experience. To be ok with indulging every once in awhile takes a lot of work. It’s not easy to actually have a healthy relationship with food. And that doesn’t mean just eating salads all the time.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t all eat healthy and balanced meals. In fact, we absolutely should. It’s important to get enough protein and vegetables for energy and nutrients. I’m learning a lot about it from sessions with a nutritionist.

**side note: if you’re interested in seeing a nutritionist to learn more about eating well, most health insurance plans will cover a few sessions a year at no extra cost. So check your plan.

The problem with food comes when you can’t allow yourself to enjoy something really delicious from time to time. You shouldn’t beat yourself up or feel guilty just because you ate a cookie. That’s what led me down a bad path to a skewed view of eating, and ultimately an eating disorder.

So that’s why I’ve decided to post recipes for *TREAT YOURSELF TUESDAYS.* On Tuesdays I’ll post a recipe that’s a little bit more of a guilty pleasure. In moderation we can all enjoy our favorite foods, and we don’t have to feel bad about it.

Today’s first Treat Yourself Tuesday recipe is Summer Berry Sorbet with Homemade Whipped Cream. So check it out! The sorbet itself isn’t too unhealthy, but with the homemade whipped cream this dish is a little more decadent and A LOT more delicious.

So in the words of Tom and Donna: “Treat Yo Self!”

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Social Media & Depression

media-social-media-apps-social-network-facebook.jpgI’ve gotten a few texts and messages from people wondering if I “unfriended” them on Facebook. To all my friends: I don’t hate you. I didn’t unfriend you. I did the unthinkable. I deleted my Facebook.

I guess technically I deactivated my Facebook. I could rejoin the social media site if I wanted to. But after months off the website, I don’t want to go back.

Social media is such a powerful medium. I use it to find out what’s going on in the world, and now to share my story with everyone here at Food, the City and the Girl. I think it’s important, and I think it’s a great vessel for self expression. That being said, I think that’s only true if you truly express yourself.

Too much of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and whatever else people are using these days,  are about showing an idealized version of yourself. A version that doesn’t exist for anyone. It’s great to post pictures of your friends or talk about how much you love your job or your significant other, but a lot of times that’s not the entire story. And honestly that’s ok, because you don’t need to share every problem in your life with that guy you knew in third grade and haven’t talked to since.

But staring at the over idealized versions of ourselves every day can cause problems. Especially for people suffering from depression. It can make you feel very alone. Like you’re the only person struggling when really we all have our own problems.

It also can cause problems if you have an eating disorder. Staring at pictures every day of girls in bikinis and six-pack abs doesn’t exactly boost your confidence.

So how can you make it better?

Take a break from social media for awhile. I’m not telling anyone to completely quit every social media account they have. Clearly I still depend on social media very much. But find the site or sites that are making you feel bad and just try and step away. For me it was Facebook. I took a step back. I still actively use Twitter (@karawarr) and Instagram (@kara_warr). For me, twitter is more about following current events. I used it a lot when I was working in local news, and that’s still the majority of accounts I follow. I don’t follow a lot of people on Instagram and I like that. For me Instagram isn’t overly politicized. People don’t bitch about every single thing. It’s mostly just cute pictures of puppies and the vacations my friends go on. Instagram actually makes me feel better when I look at it.

When you feel like you’re in a better place, try rejoining the social media site. That was my plan originally, but I found I’m much happier without Facebook. Maybe some day I’ll go back, but it won’t be anytime soon. By then there will probably be a completely different website.

But how do I keep in touch with friends?

I was worried about this at first as well. I have some friends who notoriously lose their cell phones and get new numbers all the time. It’s hard to keep in touch and social media actually makes that so much easier. I’ll say I was actually surprised that I DIDN’T have any issues keeping in touch. Those people I worried about losing touch with had MY NUMBER. Or they had my email or followed one of my other social media accounts. Those people who are important in your life will stay in your life. Before you disconnect, you can always shoot a few people a message, if you’re really worried about losing touch.

It also doesn’t have to be forever. Go back to it whenever you want! Like I said, I love social media. I think it’s important, but when you’re in a bad place, it can be helpful to take a break. And if you’re not ready to disconnect, just remember no one’s life is perfect… even if it seems that way on Facebook.

Creating the Recipes

As I say on my home page, I’m no chef. I still need recipes for a lot of things, and I’m still learning a lot about flavor and technique. Admittedly I can be a little impatient. But I still try really hard to come up with new ideas for the blog.

The video below is a little background, and a request for readers to send me some new ideas. (Content continued after video)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the old way I was looking at food wasn’t healthy or smart. I’m working now to make food that’s delicious, and that will make people feel good about themselves. As one of my best friends put it, “food for people in recovery.” Well I think it goes beyond that. I think it can be food for a lot of people. Those who are busy, or tired, or stressed out and just need a really good meal. I want to pack in protein and vegetables, but not worry about leaving the skin on chicken or about how many carbs are in a meal. I promise I won’t add 5 sticks of butter into anything, because the goal is to be healthy *AND* not feel bad about yourself.

So where does it all the inspiration for Food the City and the Girl come from? I’m lucky enough to live just a few blocks away from Philadelphia’s Italian Market. So a lot of times it’s whatever I see. The produce is incredible and there are so many great butchers.

IMG_2459In addition, this little book now lives in my house. It’s called “The Flavor Thesaurus” by Niki Segnit and it’s a great helper especially since I’m not a chef. It helps you think of new flavors and ideas to put together. Even if it doesn’t give me the answer, it gets the wheels turning a little bit.

Most recently this book helped me come up with the idea for Almond Coriander Baked Chicken

In the above Youtube video, I mentioned I wanted readers to reach out with what food they’d like to see recipes for. My fatal flaw in all of this is that I only cook what I like to eat. Part of this is because I don’t want to waste food, and I’m the one who has to eat it. It’s also because I don’t have a ton of money to waste on just buying food that no one will eat. But I also want to get out of my box. So please help! If you have an idea or a recipe you’d  like to see leave me a comment, email me at foodthecityandthegirl@gmail.com, send me a message on twitter (@karawarr) or Instagram (@kara_warr).

Thanks as always for your support!

The Dark Side of a Food Blog

blog twitter.jpgIt sounds silly to say a food blog has a “dark side,” but for me mine definitely did. When I started this blog over a year ago, the point was to be healthy….. and by that i mean lose weight. I thought that if I posted some low calorie/low fat recipes that I could help myself slim down. I love food and cooking, and blog would hold me accountable to my goal. It worked. I was eating less calories, working out more and losing weight.

What I didn’t realize is that I was on the verge of not eating enough. I would get startling cravings that would last all day and couldn’t be satiated. I stopped feeling hungry. And that’s when the trouble started… I began binging and purging…I was bulimic.

FullSizeRender-2.jpgThis wasn’t the first time it happened, it been a problem on and off since college. When I told my boyfriend at the time his response was: “Never do it again or I’ll tell your parents and send you to the hospital.” While he was right, and I shouldn’t be throwing up what I ate, the response was starling. It wasn’t helping me. That comment made me think to myself: “Ok, well I won’t tell you or anyone else.” And I didn’t… for years.

My eating disorder was never severe enough to force me to go to a doctor. It didn’t happen every day or even every month… that was until last year. My eating disorder and depression took over my life. It wasn’t until last fall that I began to get help. Since my first therapy appointment my eating disorder hasn’t beat me. That doesn’t mean there aren’t days when I still hate how my body looks, or obsess over what I eat, but with help from some amazing doctors every day is getting a little bit better.

The Future of My Food Blog

So why tell this amazingly embarrassing amount of information about myself? Why am I willing to tell the world the dirty little secret about myself? I want my blog to now help other people. I want to turn it into a source of hope for others. I think it’s hard to talk about eating disorders. I think there’s a lot of shame behind them and for that reason a lot of people don’t get help. I want to be healthy… the *REAL* healthy. Make it about enjoying food while getting a lot of nutrients, not just losing weight.

IMG_2427For my birthday last month I got one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever gotten in my life. A Shun chef knife. This knife isn’t messing around. I turned a tomato into confetti. This knife was given to me by someone so important to me, who has been by my side through the depression and the eating disorder. Someone who has encouraged me to cook despite my struggle with food.

So I take this knife and move forward with recipes that will make me happy. The goal is to post recipes that are fairly easy to cook. I know when I’m having down days, the energy to actually cook is hard. I want to post recipes that aren’t super restricting, and that can hopefully help others struggling with the same issues.

The world is filled with diet trends and “skinny” recipes. I’m ready to start something new. Food you can feel good about and enjoy. I promise there won’t be 8 lbs of butter in a recipe, but I also know I won’t be afraid to use a little. It’s all about balance… at least that’s what I’m trying for.

I promise my future blog posts won’t be as depressing. I’ve had a few that have showed a lot of my soul. But I’m hoping from this point it’s all about moving forward. My food isn’t just for those who are struggling. It’s for everyone, and it’s hopefully recipes everyone can feel good about.IMG_1834