You Are What You Eat

Self care
23 Aug 2023

About five years ago, I discovered, quite by accident, that I was gluten intolerant. I had eliminated wheat and barley as part of my low carbohydrate diet and discovered that my migraines and – ahem – digestive issues cleared up as if by magic. I now know that if I eat gluten, I have stomach aches for a week, feel tired and bloated and have a migraine 48 hours after eating whatever it was.

When I became ill with ulcerative colitis, it was very tempting to think that it was somehow my diet that was to blame, but all the information on the disease concludes that diet has nothing to do with it – ulcerative colitis comes in on the back of a virus and is just the luck of the draw. “Nothing you did was to blame,” says one booklet. “You did not cause this.”

We know, however, that what we eat makes a huge difference to how we feel. We can go out for a big meal and feel heavy and lethargic the next day. Conversely, when we eat “healthily” we feel lighter inside and have more energy.

We know our mental health is related to our physical health and what we eat has a direct effect on our physical health.

But what is “healthy eating?”

Most of us are familiar with the food pyramid. At the bottom are grains, then, moving up, fruit and vegetables, then eggs and dairy, meat and fish, with fats and oils at the very top. A low-fat diet is the one most “experts” recommend.

Many people, however, for various reasons, find that their version of healthy eating is very different from this pyramid. I know it doesn’t suit me at all, although it may suit you.

What I think we can all agree on, is the desirability of eating more fresh food and the undesirability of processed food. 

I don’t know about you, but when I look at the ingredient list of some foods – an ingredient list that seems to go on forever – I shudder. I have no idea of what most of these things are, and no idea of what they will do to my body. I have heard that human bodies are now slower to decay than they once were because of all the preservatives we have ingested over the years. This may well be a myth, but it makes enough sense to be chilling.

Something most experts would say is not desirable is chocolate. But most of us also know that we feel better, in the short term, when we do eat chocolate. This is because chocolate contains tryptophan, which the brain uses to make serotonin, the happy hormone.

My suggestion for self-care, then, is that we monitor the foods that make us feel good and eat more of those foods. One person’s healthy diet might not look like another person’s healthy diet – and that’s okay.

Although I think we all need some chocolate in there somewhere.


A Moodscope member

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Moodscope members seek to support each other by sharing their experiences through this blog. Posts and comments on the blog are the personal views of Moodscope members, they are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice.

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