Diet and Exercise your way out of Depression

It’s True: You are What You Eat!


• Depression frequently affects appetite, either increasing or decreasing it.

• Diet (not how much, but what we eat) can affect depression.

• I t’s important to eat a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar, caffeine and

junk food.

• Snacks should be nutritious.

• R egular and consistent dietary habits are important.

• Even if you don’t feel hungry, it’s important to eat healthy meals or snacks several

times a day.

• I f needed, decrease portion size, but make sure you eat something.

Substance Use

• Although using drugs and alcohol may provide temporary relief of depressive

symptoms, they tend to worsen mood.

• Substance misuse contributes to avoiding rather than facing problems. Avoiding

emotional problems tends to aggravate them.

• R educing substance use to moderate levels, or even stopping, is essential to health

and recovery.


• Caffeine comes in several popular forms – coffee, tea, soft drinks and chocolate.

• I t is a stimulant, acting on our nervous system much like anxiety does.

• Caffeine is also an addictive substance.

• Some of its side effects are similar to symptoms of depression: sleeplessness,

digestive problems, headaches and anxiety.

• Withdrawal from caffeine also mimics depression, with irritability, fatigue, appetite

problems, and poor concentration.

• I t’s best to be aware of the effect of caffeine and to consider limiting its use.

• Please refer to the Caffeine Chart on back to determine your caffeine intake.


• R egular physical activity helps the treatment of depression by brightening mood,

increasing energy, and improving sleep.

• Exercise helps increase stamina and reduces the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart

diseases, and osteoporosis.

• Exercise can raise the levels of certain chemicals in the brain, including serotonin,

which produces happier states of mind, thus helping in the recovery of depression.

• When you are depressed, it is good to know that you are taking positive action for

your health.

• A realistic, flexible and fun program has the best chance for success.

• N o one form of exercise has been shown to be superior for depression. What is

important is to choose a physical activity that you enjoy — and to do it regularly.

• You do not need to push yourself to extremes. In fact, moderate and consistent

exercise may improve mood more than excessively long, hard workouts.

• Your goal should be to feel pleasantly tired, a normal feeling after any

physical activity.

• The key is to start slowly and be patient with yourself. Just a few minutes of walking

(or other exercise) is a good place to start.


Lifestyle Handout from CBIS Manual, British Columbia, Canada, June  2009

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