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.

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

Treat Yourself Tuesday- Crispy Fried Chicken

IMG_2607What? This girl from the northeast is making fried chicken? Now southerners, don’t get upset with me. I’m not claiming to know everything about fried chicken, but I’ve found a pretty great recipe.

Now traditionally I do healthier food on this blog, but I also post a Treat Yourself Tuesday segment. The point of this is to allow yourself some freedom in food. Many people struggle with their perceptions of food. But we also need to be able to enjoy foods we love, without feeling guilty. So every once in awhile it’s ok to treat yourself.

Now we get to the fried chicken! Yes it is fried, but at least your getting a lot of good protein. Add some sauteed spinach on the side for vegetables (see below for a quick recipe), and you get a lot of nutrition. Most days you may want to opt for roasted chicken, but today we’re treating ourselves!

What You’ll Need:

  • One whole chicken broken down (You can either buy it that way or break it down yourself. Or you can do it yourself. Here’s how to break down a chicken.)
  • A lot of canola oil (make sure you have at least one whole bottle)
  • Flour (enough to coat an entire chicken)
  • At least one cup of buttermilk (or sour milk)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • cayenne
  • A large skillet (preferably cast iron)
  • A meat thermometer (so much easier to test the chicken)

Put the flour in a large bowl. Season generously with salt, pepper, paprika and a little cayenne pepper. In a separate bowl pour the buttermilk. Take the chicken, and rub some salt and pepper under the skin of the bird. Dip the pieces of chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, then coat it in the flour a second time. Let the chicken sit for a few minutes until the batter turns into a paste on the chicken. This is important!

IMG_2604In your cast iron skillet pour the canola oil in so it will cover at least half of the chicken. Put the stove on high heat and let the oil get very hot (if it start smoking that’s too hot!! Don’t worry it won’t be at this heat the entire time) Drop in the chicken and brown on both sides. Once the chicken is browned, turn the temperature down to medium-low. The oil should still be boiling, but not as intensely. Cook for about 25 minutes to half an hour. Check all the pieces of chicken. The wings will cook much quicker than the breasts. If you’re worried about the wings overcooking, pull them out while like bigger pieces, like the breasts, cook. All of the chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees. When the chicken is cooked, turn the oil back up to high heat to crisp up again. Trust me this will make for some very crispy chicken.

Put the chicken on a metal rack to drain or cool. If you don’t have a metal rack don’t worry. I use a broiling pan. Anything that will allow the oil to drip off of it. You can use paper towels, but your chicken will not be as crispy.

For the side of spinach you’ll need:

  • 1 5 oz bag of baby spinach
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 cup almond slices
  • a few dashes of salt
  • a few dashes of pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil

Put all the ingredients in a pan over medium-high heat. Occasionally stir until the spinach has wilted. About 1-2 minutes.

Hope you enjoyed this week’s treat yourself Tuesday!

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.

“If We Were Having Coffee”- Where I’ve Been

I may be a little late to the party… But I recently read about. New trend called #weekendcoffeedate where bloggers share what they’d tell their readers over a cup of coffee. Now I know I don’t have a huge following… But I think it was important to me to finally talk to my friends about where I’ve been, and why I stopped posting for awhile. So here we go…

If we were having coffee I’d tell you that the past year has been the hardest of my life. It wasn’t the move to a new city or a new job (although the stressful news environment doesn’t help). I’ve been fighting depression and an anxiety disorder. I’ve been struggling for awhile… but this fall it finally boiled over. I tried to hide panic attacks that hit during work, or when I was out with friends. In the end I was having some pretty severe physical symptoms associated with it. All of this forced me to take medical leave from work… A move that’s been incredibly embarrassing, especially when people ask me what’s wrong.

I am so lucky to have a fantastic team of family, friends and doctors who’ve supported me along the way. I couldn’t have done it without them. Still… many people who are very important to me had no idea. It makes me feel weak for talking about it. People say I’m brave for taking care of myself and recognizing that I needed help, but in reality I feel like I’m disappointing everyone: my friends who I flake on because I’m having a bad day, my family because they worry about me and my co-workers because they’re short-staffed while I get better. I know I need to focus on myself but it’s hard.

This fight has turned cooking, once a source of joy, into a chore. I barely want to make a microwaveable meal for myself, let alone think of new blog posts. I’m trying my hardest to recover… To get better. To return to work. To find joy again.

The good days are getting a little more frequent. That could be a result of spring… But I hope it means I’m starting to pull myself out of it. I have a long way to go, but I’m trying, and I refuse to give up.

Thanks for listening. (Or reading I guess)