depression and foodThere is something to be said for food.

I’m about halfway through a 24-hour fast for my colonoscopy tomorrow and my mood is turning — fast. One of the first things we learn in a 12-Step program is HALT: Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. When you want to indulge the urge to pop a few Xanax or pour a stiff one, ask yourself if you are hungry, angry, lonely and/or tired. I apply the same thing to my depression, especially lately since I have had a couple of losses – relationship ending and my daughter going back to college.

Right now, it’s hunger that is messing with my head.

I have food issues anyway. When I am in a depression I stop eating. I have no hunger. I just forget to eat. The longer and deeper the depression, the more weight I lose. I don’t feel I’m starving myself. I just don’t want to eat. So, I stop eating, which makes my depression worse.

When I am not in a depression, I can spend waaaaaaay too much time thinking about food. I feel hungry all the time, I crave sugar, I want chocolate. I work out like a fiend. I always feel fat, even though number-wise I’m just right. I weigh myself a lot. It’s called anorexia.

Food is one of those game-changers. As I have gotten older the lack of food, the wrong foods or too much food can have profound affect on my mood. It’s easy to forget this when my nutrition and appetite are in balance. But the physiological effects of food are noticeable to me now. Without the proper nutrition I bonk during a workout. I hit the wall. It’s not just my age – 53 – it’s a lack of nutrients. Game over. And it doesn’t come back a few minutes after I swig a quart of Gatorade.

Nutrition is an essential tool in controlling my depression. When I get really hungry, like I am right now, my fuse burns down to a nub. I can, and will, verbally attack. I get lonely. I get tired. HALT. I’m there and I’m out of Jello and popsicles!

I know this is temporary. I will take my lunchbox to the doctor’s office at 6:30 tomorrow morning and I will eat like a savage the moment I wake up from the procedure. Within a minute I will feel better. I will feel like I’m being re-hydrated. My mood will change, the sun will rise and I will feel really good. I just need to make it through the next 12 hours.

I wish I had more Jello.

Green Jello photo available from Shutterstock



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    Last reviewed: 13 Aug 2012

APA Reference
Stapleton, C. (2012). Food & Nutrition: Getting the Brain Chemistry Right. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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