You Are What You Eat

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“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”

Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

In this series, we will be reviewing the “Treatments That Work” workbook, ” Overcoming Depression.” The intention will be to highlight key skills that can be helpful in easing the difficulties experienced from depression. As a recap, BEAST is the mnemonic used to not only give a picture of the burden of depression, but also give a framework of how to conquer it. BEAST stands for Body, Emotion, Action, Situation, and Thoughts.

In the last post, we reviewed the ways and in which, sex, drugs, and depression are intertwined. Today, we will talk about how depression affects and is affected by nutrition.

Throughout the series, I have encouraged you to keep a log of your habits. Eating habits are likely something you have logged before. There hasn’t been one dieting or weight loss program that didn’t ask me to be cognizant of what I consume. There are various targets that people track: calories, nutrients, fats, carbs, sugar. Today, I want us to take a step back from tracking food in that way and start thinking why we make particular food choices . Depression affects appetite in various ways. Some people have increased appetite and some have  increased appetite. Some people crave “comfort food” and some people prefer to eat nothing. Given the various ways that eating habits change with depression, it’s best to think about how depression affects your eating habits. The first step is doing the status quo food diary. Log everything you eat to get a baseline for what a typical week looks like for you. Then, I want you to log for few days during a time that feel different than your normal, either good or bad. Notice what happens. Do you eat more or less? What kinds of food do you eat? Do you eat during different times of the day or under different circumstances? Are you snacking? This isn’t about weight loss or weight gain. This is about patterns. For example, there are people that eat more when they are not feeling well and when they are feeling great. However, the times they don’t eat serve as warning signs that they are not doing well. The objective is to examine your patterns to gauge what your warning signs may be. Although I mentioned that weight isn’t the target, tracking your weight is also a good way to quantify how much change has occur.

In the next week, keep track of your eating habits. Continue to track over time to see patterns and try to be specific. The link below is for additional information about how to combat depression with healthy eating and mood-conscious food choices. If you haven’t already, you should consider investing in a journal or finding an app to track your journey. Every post will encourage you to track or reflect on some aspect of your life as it relates to fighting the BEAST.


Eat to Beat Depression

The skills in this blog post were adapted from:

Gilson, M., & Freeman, A. (2009). Overcoming Depression: A Cognitive Therapy Approach Therapist Guide. Oxford University Press, USA. Retrieved from