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
• 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.
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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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