Here is a conversation that I had on facebook recently.  It was one of the most informing conversations.  When you ask the right question, you will receive the right answer.  I asked this question after being frustrated by peoples refusal to think that food and lifestyle may have something to do with mental illness and depression.
If I ever put any study up about this issue, regarding food and lifestyle being part of the healing of mental illness, I would invariably be told that I don’t know what it’s like to not be able to get up in the morning, or that life seems hopeless and having suicidal thoughts.  And they would be right I don’t know, I’ve never got to that point in my life.  But I would become frustrated that these people that made these statements had given up and not believed that they could get well if they changed their food intake, lifestyle and thus their thinking.
Before you read this conversation I would like you to write down how your body is either whispering to you or screaming at you that something is wrong either physically or mentally in the way of symptoms such as; puffiness, inflamed gums, indigestion, headaches, rashes, numbness, anxiety, insomnia, tired, fatigue, loss of hair, dis-ease, aches, pains, itchy eyes, weight gain, dizziness, feeling cold and anything that is annoying you. These are the bodies ways of telling you something is wrong and asking you to help it get better.
HERE WAS MY QUESTION
Every time I make a statement about mental illness with regards to trying real food and movement as part of the healing process, I seem to have very passionate and somewhat negative replies from people regarding this issue. So I now have questions for you. Did you wake up one day and just couldn’t get out of bed or did it take some time to get to that point? Did you wake up one day and you were just depressed or were their symptoms, such as anxiety preceding the depression? If the conditions were not instant then why did you not listen to your body’s cries for help to do something different, anything different? This is not a judgement I’m just asking questions would love to hear from you.
PUBLIC ANSWERS – Very enlightening
 

BF; The negative replies come from people who are negative in the first place – may even have relating issues – and cannot see how much impact food and exercise have in their lives.

SJ; I am bipolar but I mostly suffer from depression. I am worse, the more additives and chemicals I eat. The problem is, when I am depressed I don’t care about myself so I don’t do what I need to do to get better. I believe there is such a thing as ‘a diet of depression’. I think if anyone ate crap filled with chemicals and additives, high fat and bad carbs, no fruit and vege, that it would make you depressed. I have also noticed in my son that if he eats artificially colours & flavours, the next day he has a bad & sad response. He is down on himself and mopey.  Limited exercise, staying indoors and lots of computer/tv time don’t help either

JB; My mind was (and is) a powerful organ. It has a safe place called ‘denial’. It took for me to reach a rock bottom for me to go upwards ! Depression took a long time to diagnose, a long time to accept, a long time to turn around and become motivated, and its taking time to become healthy again… I am progressing (finally after 16years )

CB; then what was a bad day was happening more and more, till I realized it was depression/anxiety. it wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to my body, I just didn’t know what it was saying or what to do about it. I really didn’t know how much the food we eat affects us, I believed it was an environmental thing that required drugs

FJM; I have had depression since the age of 14. I went undiagnosed for at least 24 years. Since then it is easy to control with less gluten and dairy intake, exercising and having hobbies. I had no idea what was wrong with me for so long. But now my diet especially has improved. I stay away from processed food and take away and it makes a huge difference .

KM; You are Every fiber and molecule of what we put in our Bodies….Negative people do not on the norm eat that well….And it shows…to them its Normal. For you to say they shouldn’t eat McDonalds 10 times a week upsets them.

NN: I completely agree with you real food and movement is needed to facilitate the healing process or how else is the body going to get the right nutrients, to make the neurotransmitters required to make us feel better eg for the body to make serotonin it needs tryptophan, vitamin B6, vitamin c, zinc and b2 if you are deficient in any of these nutrients i.e. from a poor diet, then how can you possible feel good. Mental health is complex and there are many factors that play a role but eating well is part of the healing process.

AG; Diet and exercise make all the difference for me. I now refer to my nature walks as ‘my anxiety drug’. I didn’t make these changes when I suffered from depression as a teenager because I was not educated about the relevance of good health when it comes to mental health. It wasn’t until I picked up your book in 2005 that it suddenly dawned on me what I needed to do to turn my life around. It’s taken a long time to change life long habits but I’m so grateful I now know. Thanks Cyndi x

LA.B; It’s wonderfully valid to look at food as a tool in holistic well being – it makes sense. But it is only one tool of many needed. Working in the mental health field I have had the honor of becoming more aware of my own states as well as watching others discover, and move through their own. I love that food is part of the process. It is not as simple as listening to the body if you don’t have the capacity or understanding of it’s importance in the first place. Many of the clients I have worked with have experienced trauma early on and as a result they are rarely ‘fully’ connected to their ‘higher self’ (in neurological terms this would be the prefrontal cortex which relates to reflective thinking for example). So having the capacity to be aware of their bodies is limited or non existent due to their brain occupying a mode of survival or perhaps even that neurological pathways are so strong elsewhere they need ‘rebuilding’ or ‘reconnecting’. But when made aware of what is going on even in their brains, the realm of possibilities opens including better choices to feed their body mind and soul. Nutrition has a very real stake in brain development…Anyway hope this helps – it’s just one theory among many many different ones we can use to work with people. I’m sure that others have very different thoughts on what works etc…this is a growing evolving one I am interested in.

MCK; I suffer severe anxiety to the point that it can affect my life, it’s horrible and I don’t like being like it. I think it’s a bit of a spiral because when I wake up when my anxiety is at a bad time I don’t feel like exercising so I don’t, I don’t feel like eating well so I either eat junk or eat nothing if I can’t be bothered, I also can’t be bothered looking after myself properly. I need to learn to eat, exercises and live well during those hard times.

RE; My symptoms initially were a side-effect to the pill (which I quit) then symptoms resurfaced as postnatal depression but didn’t want to admit it (supposedly quite common!) so didn’t do anything. When I tried to talk to 2 different drs I was patronized. Becoming pregnant again, becoming even more down and worried about what my toddler was witnessing of my negative black moods prompted me to do something else. Found a better dr, tried antidepressants but the laissez faire attitude they brought scared me (when it wore off). Tried to blood type diet & after 2 weeks felt SO much better; no more overwhelming downers. Eventually we could pick that the problem was wheat. 7 years later & I’m doing well. My motivation…my family. They don’t need an over emotional mother/wife!

RWA; I am very interested to hear your thoughts Cyndi O’Meara, on GP’s who practice the philosophy of Bio-Balance Health Australia or the @Walsh research Institute USA, in regard to mental illness.

JP; I’m always bemused that no matter what you say about health (“you” meaning anyone who writes about health issues online), there’s always somebody who comments “That doesn’t apply to me / my relative / my friend” as if that person is not quite human and the biological facts that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them

PR; I can verify that 100%, as a friend of mine is amazingly unwell and has been for years, but is also addicted to HJ’s and when challenged about his diet, becomes exceedingly angry.   JM; We both certainly feel more negative and down, questioning our own worth when we haven’t been looking after ourselves, emotionally, mentally and physically including good food and & exercise.

MTD; While there is truth that diet helps and certainly with my son as with what Sarah said- my son has the same reaction. But I eat healthier because it does help in my “up” times instead of feeling down all the times) the good and the bad), my anxiety and depression occur regardless of the food I eat because mine in connected to trauma. So I agree that good food is important to healing, I just think that to say a bad diet being the cause of depressions and anxiety is a dangerous statement. It almost comes off as judgmental and putting the blame on the sufferer. Healthy eating and movement can help in getting through the dark days. And as I said before it makes the ups better.

RB; I can’t discuss it in to I much detail but I have a family member the same. Refuses to see that smoking is linked to health issues its incredibly frustrating hearing reasons that make absolutely no sense and some that are completely the opposite to the facts about certain foods. I have so much i want to share but am always met with a negative response when I try discuss it.

MK; Interesting question! food is like a drug so it can be quite hard to break away from. And its hard to ‘believe’ in your mind that food could make you feel so bad. In a way I am lucky because I am on a journey to help my body feel better by adapting the foods I eat and its having a beneficial effect on my mind .

SNCM; Give me a celery stick and a walk around the park over an anti depressant any day. It took me a long time to make the changes that I needed to make for a healthier and happier life but now that I have started try and stop me. In saying that it took a long time to start you have to want it. To need it to see that there is something more than what you have because it is not always easy to see it when you are buried by the crap.

KH; Unfortunately, most people treat symptoms with drugs – suppress the healing cycle – which leads to chronic conditions which are inevitably treated with more powerful drugs – If we don’t give the body a chance to heal itself – the results will be deleterious – all the way to the end.

Lovin’ the mix  The hard part is going to a psychologist who is oh to eager to prescribe pills and counseling without looking into what the person is putting into their body and how they are respecting their body with movement. I believe this and cognitive behavioural therapy (thinking positive thoughts) key in recovering… But I guess we stop supporting the drug industry if we simply go for a walk and eat fruit and veggies!

JF;  Hi Cyndi, I resisted medication for a very long time. I have had many episodes of depression since I was 18 but I only went on meds when it got particularly bad 5 years ago. Before going on meds I had many different techniques I would try to help pull me out of the dark including exercise, however those were not working as well as they used to. Back then I didn’t know what I now know about food and I wasn’t eating the best – I was very much self medicating. I don’t remember my doctors ever talking about my diet as part of my therapy though, it was always about my weight/physical health. Going on meds helped me think about what I am exposing myself to on a daily basis, it put me in a frame of mind where I was able to think about my life outside the context of being depressed. I was truly able to help myself then. I am still on meds, but I am slowly lowering my dose, with the firm intention of getting off them for good. We live as low a chemical life as we can, especially because of the meds. I have children with food sensitivities so I am even more conscious of our diet than ever. I think medication should absolutely be a last resort – I thought it was for me, I now know I could have tried better with my diet first. However, going on the meds did save my life, so I cannot take away from that. If anyone asks me, I do recommend that meds be a last resort for them too, and always in conjunction with CBT/counseling. It is hard though, when you are that far down in your depression, to think of natural practical ways to help yourself. You mind is consumed with the depression and negativity – going for a walk is often the last thing on your mind even though it could be the best lifesaver for you that day.

AH; I feel so much better having changed my lifestyle, however, it only came about from a push from my husband basically telling me that we were both fat and needed to change. I had never made the link between my state of mind and what I was eating. Feeling emotionally well has been a by-product. I can’t see anybody -doctors or otherwise- having the ability to have made me join that back to basics program! And I still remember how cranky i was at my husband!!

CS; A health professional who thinks there modality is the only modality to help/heal people is like a someone in the building industry who thinks you can use a hammer for everything. Sadly a lot of people think that want a quick fix, often for a good reason eg cannot take time off work with flu symptoms.

SM; people saying negative comments about you and making jokes, even though they saying that they are only joking and you laugh with them but after awhile, over the years, you begin to believe it your self which is makes it worse and you continue to make mistakes.

RW;  As a starting point…food is our medicine and medicine is our food. (thanks Hippocrates). Then tailor to individual situations, preferences and mindset.

KDW; I have suffered from depression and anxiety for quite a few years, although it is just mild, I am not on any medication for it. I have found CBT to be the best solution. Cyndi, you are right when you say that we didn’t just wake up one day and have the illness. I know mine came over slowly, possibly a by-product of my childhood. However when I started noticing symptoms, I just presumed they would go away. Then they didn’t. I think it was a combination of the stigma attached to mental health, which meant I didn’t want to admit I had a problem, and I didn’t want others to know. Also I kind of thought that I deserved the problem, that somehow it was my fault. So I kind of treated it like a punishment. As years have gone by and I have done more research, and the stigma is slowly disappearing, I have started doing things to treat it, with good eating, and exercise (although not enough yet). I hope this has maybe helped you understand why I didn’t jump on to the problem straight away Cyndi

LB-R; Well, it’s plain and simple.
The best form of defence is attack.
So these negative comments from people are commonly a problem that will revert to something of there own issues.
I personally wouldn’t take it on board or even let them have that much power to bother you.
And truth is, where depression and anxiety are concerned, a healthy lifestyle is evident for a healthy mind.

Changing Habits Ok here I go, I too began to experience anxiety after the death of my Mum and sister, I kept trying to deny it, but it kept surfacing especially at night on going to sleep or waking in the middle of the night. I thought it was the stress of the loss so I began meditating as soon as I felt the anxiety, put ear plugs in with a guided meditation as soon as it came. It wasn’t until I did the 4 Phase Fat Elimination Protocol that it disappeared completely (I believe the stress of the loss of two important women in my life exacerbated the situation).

The Protocol helped me understand what foods created the anxiety. Once that was figured out I just had to avoid the food. For me I didn’t want that feeling anymore so chose not to eat the foods (many) that caused it. Sometimes it is about really listening to the whispers of the body before they start to scream at you. I think this is where the problem lays, we don’t listen to the bodies whispers and continue to do the same thing and then of course get the same result that just gets worse.

If you are interested in really looking at what may be causing issues then an loss protocol is the way to go. For more information please go to the link below and read all about it. There is a load of free information as well as a 70 minute free audio explaining the loss process. It is worth it and if done properly works! Effort is needed and support and we help as much as we can through a forum with a trained coach. When you first look at the protocol you may think it is for weight loss, but it is far more then that. Yes you lose weight, but more importantly you learn what foods not only put weight on you, cause inflammation but also create clarity of mind and those that take it away. Good luck on your journey back to physical and mental health.4 Phase Fat Elimination HCG Protocol

TH; It’s not just depression that causes negativity. Amine reactions bring out lots of anger and and depression like symptoms in people that don’t have have depression. After doing the loss diet I was shocked how angry I would get after certain foods. I use to put my temper at the end of the day down to being tired and the kids being difficult. Now I know it was food related and I look differently at situations when I do get angry. Finding out I had this intolerance has saved my sanity, I’m sure the kids much happier with me now too. There is never a one pill fix all, and I think people vent as an expression of frustration when something doesn’t work. After10 years of dealing with Crohns I’m still fighting through a maze and the set backs are so depressing but each year I’m getting better and as long as I keep picking myself up and fight on I know I’ll find the answers.

TB; I think it’s a knowledge thing. I would never have considered my diet would or could contribute to my mental health. I think if a friend suggested it was diet I would have doubted it. I understand that it seems obvious to those that know but at the time I had no idea of the impact diet had on anything other than weight.

KDW; Cyndi, I am going to come straight out and ask you something, and depending on your answer, I will buy this product today. Will this help me in some way? I have depression, anxiety and arthritis. I am tired of being “lied” to by professionals who all tell me their own beliefs.

CM; When I had depression many, many years ago – it was a gradual thing so I didn’t really notice the decline enough to say to myself ‘I’m not well I should look at my diet.’ I was in my late teens plus no doctor ever suggested this, nor even asked how much I was drinking etc – and the solution was of course to put me on antidepressants. I have since learned this was only a band-aid solution and finally went down the natural health /natural therapist path and am well and truly off medication. Our Kinesiolost was a life saver for us. I used to feel comforted by the fact that the medical profession said the depression was a disease and therefore it wasn’t really my fault but when I finally realised I greatly influenced not only my physical health but my mental health I realised I had A LOT to do with it. That’s not an easy thing for someone in the midst of depression to comprehend let alone acknowledge/understand. I certainly wouldn’t have back then and would have been very defensive. It can take a long time to ‘come around’ depending on your openess to new (generally non-mainstream ) things and also the opinions of those closest to you on these matters to. A lot of people come up against a lot of resistance there which can be very hard to break through as well. It’s worth it though!

FB-B; Wow controversial… Yes I do believe eating well and exercising is vital for the healing process of people dealing with mental illness, however, over the last few years my thoughts on medication have changed… I used to be against meds to help with anxiety and depression but now I am against those who do not see the journey as a holistic one…. Mind, body, spirit.

SW; Food is most of the answer – the rest is get out in the sunshine, connect with the earth and nature, move, and make time to be quiet… Many people’s depression is being caused by a combination of lack of nutrition, lack of sunshine (vitamin D), chemicals etc affecting the endocrine system – sex hormones and in particular the thyroid. So many people have undiagnosed thyroid problems, but all can be turned around by moving back to a more ‘natural’ lifestyle.

RR; I had a friend who told me that life was too short to eat well and exercise. Her life might be short but mine won’t be because I’m very aware of what my family eat and how much exercise we get. Exercise is my antidepressant

KDW; It’s very interesting reading all your comments. Thanks everyone   Changing Habits Kellie Diane Walden I cannot promise anything, but I do know that arthritis is one of the issues that clears up for many people who do the loss protocol. I also know that many have clarity of mind as they do the protocol, blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments are all helped. I’m not saying this is an easy protocol, it wasn’t for me although some women and men on the forum say it is easy, I guess it is an individual thing. It is only $197.00 plus postage and it includes the protocol, a private forum, a coach, a meditation tape, greens, colloidals, seaweed salt and probiotics. Before you buy make sure you read and listen to everything from the link then you can make up your own mind. We have 3000 people in the private forum all with different ailments, physical and mental, our coach Anna Kurz Rogers has been hailed as a saviour for many especially getting through the protocol as well as understanding it.

JC; I am bipolar however I have eaten well for years. Around the time I first had symptoms was probably the healthiest I have ever been. Of course, like anybody, I feel better if I am eating well but after years of trying to come off medication I now know that for me that’s not an option. If I come off medication I end up in hospital. I wish with all my heart that I could say differently.

KDW; Thanks so much Cyndi for your straight forward, honest, detailed answer.

SR; My mother died. Prevented me from getting out of bed for a long time. Then post-natal depression with my daughter because I wanted my mum but she was already gone. I agree that food plays an important part, but changing my diet would not have been enough to get me out if the state I was in both times.

Changing Habits Susan Reilly my Dad always says to me, it’s not what happens in life that matters it’s how we handle it. By being strong in mind and body we learn to cope with life’s tragedies. We all experience loss and tragedy some have to cope with so much more then others. Food, movement, sunshine, nature, spiritual life etc all help us cope with our own lives.

JC; I don’t know about anyone else but I hate the word cope. The word cope is used by well meaning people who have probably not had personal experience of severe mental illness. I was a healthy young woman who ate well and exercised regularly when I was struck down. Not so much about coping as surviving. And it sure is a miracle that I did, one I am thankful for every day.  KH; Having children rid me of my anxieties

JP; My depression came on very slowly, from the age of 14, which was also the time that I started taking antibiotics for “acne” (just a few pimples, really, and definitely not worth the pain and suffering these antibiotics caused me). I was on the antibiotics for three years. Then I went off them and onto the pill (suggested by my doctor) and had probably the worst depression of my life for that year. I later on developed symptoms of fibromyalgia, and life became more and more difficult. I slowly started to become very suspicious of pharmaceuticals and the medical fraternity, as neither of them had helped me, and they couldn’t explain why I had the problems I had. I had an epiphany of sorts when a holistic-minded doctor suggested vitamin C shots for my severe fatigue. 10 minutes after that shot my depression had gone. Completely. Just like that. After years and years of torture. It eventually came back, but I realised from this experience that it was physiological, not psychological, and that was a turning point. Since then, I have done hours and hours of research, detoxed, gone organic, changed my diet from a healthy one to an extremely healthy one, taken many supplements, including iodine and high-dose B vitamins, and turned my life around. To me, depression is just another symptom of poor health. I am not 100% yet, but my depression is gone and I have no doubt in my mind it is possible to get to 100% now that I understand my body and the main causes of just about every illness: toxicity and deficiency.

RH; I had a 15 year battle with infertility… I eventually lost my ovaries to cancer!! massive wake up call for me…. I changed my diet & exercise. Although I will always live with the pain of infertility… I’ve never been happier… completely overcome depression. My husband’s says it is because I’ve been “fixed”! (no hormones) or could be diet!

KDW;  Cyndi, is this protocol ok for “morbidly obese” people ?  JP; Oh, and of course gut health is also of paramount importance.   Changing Habits The problem with eating healthy is what do we know is healthy eating? There are so many options. The heart foundation gives their tick of approval to margarine and lean cuisine. The diabetic association believes drinking diet coke instead of real coke is a step in the right direction. The nutritional guidelines says that we should eat cereals and breads as part of a healthy diet. Other organisations think low fat, high carbs, others high fat, high protein and so on and so on. I don’t agree with any of it. What I do agree with is a general eating regime of REAL FOOD (not lean cuisine, breakfast cereals, modified low fat milks margarine and diet coke). Once you are eating REAL FOOD then you need to start looking at improving the source of your food, local and seasonal. Then is the tricky part, finding out what your individual body likes and doesn’t like and this you do via an loss protocol, already discussed in this post. This is all achievable but you have to do the steps and you have to become informed in order to know what you are doing.

ME; Hi Cindy. H here. The HCG diet has helped a few members of  my family as you already know. I’m suffering fogginess, depression and anxiety and think I have for a long while. Thing is I don’t think this diet is going to be right for me because I am already probably too thin from having Grave’s disease and breast feeding a 10 month old 4-5 times a day. My blood results show that I’m hyperthyroid (with jittery feeling, agitated and increased heart rate/ anxiety) but my hair analysis I had recently shows I have hypothyroid, slow metabolism symptoms (makes sense re; lethargy and depression). This “hypothyroid” state is probably due to having to go back on thyroid suppressant drugs after a recent relapse. I’m at my wits end and will try anything but not sure the HCG protocol could apply to me? I follow your work closely and think you do an amazing job – seriously awe inspiring. Thank you!

Changing Habits Kellie Diane Walden we have had people lose 60kg on this protocol, it takes time to do this but after three and four times through the protocol they are there, some have also stopped taking most of their diabetes medication and other meds they no longer need. For someone morbidly obese it takes time as it took time to get there.
CCN; I must say firstly ppl get waspish when the truth is spoken & they don’t want to admit it. I know I use, heck prob sti so sometimes. I’ve known that healthy food & exercise is a key to a happier life but, have I been doing it? Nope. Why? I’ve come up w/so many excuses over the yrs & recently in working w/an NLP practitioner & an EFT one I realize that I use food not & cola not only as comfort but as a self destruction to “punish” myself so to spk. Well that is now stopping thank goodness. I just spent 3 days sick with a headache most likely withdrawing from fast food & cola. Now THAT was an eye opener!

KM;i have bipolar.. its awful at times but i find eating well excersise and my children around im alot better
PL; Having personally successfully overcome depression and anxiety, the first part of healing is accepting complete responsibility for my mental/emotional state. I realised that you do not suffer from mental illness (as if it is some external entity that you happen to catch or get struck down by). I realised that we manufacture depression and anxiety ourselves. So i looked at all aspects of my lifestyle…exercise, diet, emotional coping skills/beliefs, physical balance, relationships, work, rest, play. I realised that I had to change certain aspects of my lifestyle if i wanted to change my mental health. As it so happened at the time my nutrition and exercise were exemplary so I had to look at other areas of my lifestyle and I addressed those imbalanced areas of my lifestyle which then helped me to balance my mind. But all areas of lifestyle were important in supporting my health in the process. So my advice to those doing depression and anxiety is to not focus on treating the symptom….instead focus on what lifestyle improvements you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Nutrition plays a part but is only part of the puzzle.  KDW; Thanks Cyndi

Changing Habits Muvva Evangeline Heh Hatty, the Hunter Gatherer Elimination Protocol would be a far better choice for you. This is for people who want to continue to do hard exercise, pregnant, breast feeding or have no weight to lose. If you have the antibodies to your thyroid then you should never eat any wheat or gluten again, not even a small amount. Here is the link to the HG Elimination https://changinghabits.com.au/hunter-gatherer-loss-protocol

Hunter Gatherer Elimination Protocol  changinghabits.com.au  CE; I think it’s because the way you word your statements makes them come across as simplifying and even trivialising mental illness. A persons mind is their entire existence, every thought, value, belief, memory and emotional state. While diet and exercise can have a massive impact on each of these areas, it is far too complex to be ‘fixed’ with a one-dimensional approach. You posed food as the cure-all for mental illness as though it’s a symptom of poor lifestyle, which I have no doubt is true for some. However, for others it is a debilitating illness with no explainable cause, and frequently occurs even in those living extremely healthy lifestyles.

I imagine your wording and trivialising implications are also the issue when you approach issues such as autism and that would be why you receive such explosive reactions.

While your opinion as a nutritionist in these areas is valuable, your posts sound like that of a journalist selectively presenting half of a story and if you want to avoid much of the skepticism around these ideas, you should start by altering the way you present your facts, and ensuring that anything you claim as truth is factual, and backed by peer-reviewed evidence.

DS; I would say we! as in most people are just so brainwashed! that is why you are getting such negative responses, I find all your posts to be very helpful, objective,and in the end trying to assist in finding ways to assist a natural way! you know what is said you can lead !!!!! keep up the great work!!

ME; I had severe anxiety and some depression and only ate what wouldn’t make me feel sick – I became extremely malnourished. Once I supplemented nutrients, ate vegetables and protein for breakfast, and followed a dietary plan, along with exercise I improved so quickly. People who think this can only be fixed through medication are narrow minded.

NC; Hi Cyndi where does epigentics and the increased allostatic load fit in? I absolutely agree poor diet choices and food intolerance’s play a big role in all chronic illnesses (mental and physical). What about the toxicities carried down with each with each generation? Love your work.

AN; Keep spreading the good news that we are what we eat and what we put on our skin and into our minds 2.

NL; Since I lost my mum I have had huge anxiety… but it only started when she got sick… then again so did the stress of loosing her and finishing uni so my diet changed and soon I was eating crap. so my anxiety worsened till I was almost house bound. I got pregnant with my son now 2 and being pregnant for the first time I went instantly back to eating healthy and properly and I honestly have never felt better in my life and my anxiety disappeared! I do now and again get anxiety with certain triggers but I do strongly feel it is a lot less if I stick to my healthy food options rather than panicking and going for the chock and chips. I believe what you say is true, I saw first hand the biggest change in my ‘mental health’ when I focused on healthy food for my growing baby.

KS; All for diet, exercise, health assessment and cbt before medication however, after reading “My Beautiful Genome” (a great read) It’s pretty clear that your genetics can make life extremely difficult for many people and it may be a very long hard road. I had schizophrenia-like symptoms before being diagnosed as a celiac and eliminating gluten. Since then I have been obsessed with food and nutrtion, constantly improving myself. But I feel I have reached a point where food/exercise is not going to cure my dodgy mental state. (although it is so much better than it was!)

PS; Depression and anxiety are more of a verb than a noun… More a “doing” than a “having” and it’s the verbs that’s make the changes. What you eat, what you drink and what you think ARE at the heart of mental well being and that INCLUDES bipolar, schizophrenia, aspergers… ALL these conditions have at the very least been improved and managed effectively with that at its core. Behaviour changes outcomes both genetically blueprinted and belief based and there is so much evidence to support this now that any mental health practitioner that looks at these issues one dimensionally is doing clients a dis-service. The other issue is how attached to diagnoses so many become. Identifying the state is one thing, having patients identify WITH it and define themselves by it i.e. “my depression” is also very unhealthy and unhelpful.

MW; I complete agree with the medically proven fact that diet, exercise and lifestyle are the major causes of most modern day mental illnesses. It’s a pity that most people are enabled by their “doctors” instead of educated.  TG; Gluten caused me some depression and anxiety issues big time. I got glutened by accident a couple of months back. Worst weekend followed of anxiety through the roof, over reactions and tired but wired feelings for 3 days. I am now a nicer, calmer person. Gluten defiantly affects my moods.

AC; ive found I get anxiety really bad at that time of the month and I don’t know why? I asked my dr and he said too start taking the pill but don’t take the red part of it so I don’t get a cycle at all but im not sure as I thought all woman had too menstruate once a month????

KF; Thought I’d add some testosterone to this conversation lol.
Wow what a great topic Cyndi. As a trainer at I Choose Awesome I see the effect depression has on my clients. Their eating, exercise and motivation.

The 10min rule is a gr8 one…. don’t feel like exercising? Just do 10min then see how you feel. Chances the release of endorphins will result in u training longer. Aim for 3x30min session per week to start feeling the difference.
Keep eating simple.. if u can pick it from a tree, pull it out of the ground or pluck feathers or scales from it, eat it! Lol
Thanks for sharing team, gratitude
RFM; 3 years ago I became very sick. My Dr. said I may have MS. Testing was inconclusive, but was told that we’d have to test again to see if they show up later. I had every horrible symptom, and it felt like my body had been hijacked. I also have always suffered from depression off and on through my lifetime. 7 months after the MS incident, I had a complete emotional breakdown that put me in the mental hospital for 3 weeks and sent me home with a bipolar 2 diagnosis. I was a total mess. I was so depressed, I baked and ate my way through the holiday season, and just kept getting worse. On Christmas day, my husband was searching online for natural remedies for mental illness & autoimmune disorders…he came across a plant based lifestyle. That evening we read everything we could on the internet about the vegan lifestyle and felt in our hearts that we needed to give it a try. On Dec 26th 2011 my life changed forever…I had no idea what was coming, and I owe my husband so much for caring enough to search until we found the answer. It’s been almost a year and a half, and I am a totally different person! Not only have I lost over 60 lbs, but my energy is through the roof, I have ZERO MS symptoms (unless I start eating white sugar again), and I exercise like a maniac. Today I ran 10 miles (never thought I’d be a runner!), and hiked for an hour w/ my family. Exercise is paramount for me. I have read books, researched hundreds of hours about the link between what we put in our bodies, exercise and mental health. We have gotten A LOT of flack for our change in lifestyle, some friends had to be fired…and some family we just ignore their ignorance. Most of the time though, they see the change in me and know that there has to be some merit to what I’m doing. I own almost every documentary regarding this topic, and lend them out as much as I can. People can debate for all eternity for all I care…I am proof! My life is proof enough for me. I still take the lowest dose of lamictal for a mood stabilizer, but I look forward to getting off that as well in the future. People don’t have to believe the truth, for it to still be 100% true. i just hope my life shines to others that are hurting like I was. I love coaching people and giving any knowledge I have to friends and anyone who needs it. And I must say, there are many who sincerely ask for help. Anyway, that’s my little story. I am the proof!
RFM; I’m reading a great book right now called “Spark” which is about the relationship between exercise and mood, clarity of mind…all sorts of things.
MJ-C; I believe you, but it is hard to get the one with the mental issue to take food and excise as help, as they have blinkers on.

SP; I went into a real deep depression over a period of a month. I couldn’t explain why and nothing seemed to lift it (exercise, fun with my family, things I loved…). At the same time I’d discovered some flavoured potato chips and couldn’t get enough of them and was going through a few bags a week (my weakness) … After a month of tears and deep depression I read the ingredients … Flavour enhancers .. 621,631, 635. Stopped eating them and the depression lifted within 72 hours and I was back to my normal happy self. I can not eat anything with those poisons in them without becoming a teary mess a few hours later.

SW; Having experience depression and often a lot of anxiety,sometimes and more often while experiencing it its impossible to overcome anything until you realize how bad a situation yr in,and have to force yourself mentally to make a change,otherwise often your left with a grim alternative once that mind set has been shifted yes exercise activity good clean eating and sunshine certain helps and assists in this mind set change and in turn for a better more fruitful life

RFM; And Shannah Doyle, I agree w/ you somewhat…bipolar runs through the generations in my mom’s side, my grandma was bipolar 1 and pretty much nuts, my cousin is bipolar 1…and I know it’s genetic for me. BUT…I know that eating ALL plant based, not just some, is what’s needed…that is the difference. Many think they are doing it right when they say “I did try eating plant based, I ate way more veggies and fruit, filled my fridge w/ them”…but they still ate dairy, animal products, bad sugars, wheat gluten, processed food out of boxes…and once in a while a big mac & fries. It will not make the difference needed, if those things are involved At ALL. Not even in small quantities. At least for me that’s how it is. I still struggle w/ triggers and sometimes have lows. But they are night and day of how they used to be. Did your friend exercise? That’s the other life changing component. For a bipolar person, reducing the symptoms even to half of what they once were can be life saving. For me, I’m probably have 1/4 of the issues I used to. Anyway, just my thoughts.

LHA; Kristy Jade, Shannah Doyle and Carly Eaton above make excellent points. The term “mental illness” is now used to envelope a very broad range of issues and I think it is dangerous to say that all mental illness can be attributed to food.
I am speaking from lifelong experience and to over-simplify mental illness in this way is patronising and insulting. I would not normally weigh into a discussion like this but it is too important for me to ignore. I have seen people suffer real harm as a result of being ill-advised by “experts” with one-dimensional cures for mental illness.

Of course good food and exercise greatly improves our health on all levels, but to offer a one-size-fits-all decree that food will heal is irresponsible and dangerous.
PS. “Lovin’ the mix” above writes about psychologists prescribing pills – in Australia, only registered doctors with a recognised medical degree can prescribe medication.
(see www.psychology.org.au/community/about/ for a full explanation in relation to treatments for mental illness)
Australian Psychological Society : About psychologists  www.psychology.org.auPsychologists are experts in human behaviour, having studied the brain, memory, …See more  KL; I think it’s important to be aware that there’s a difference in anxiety brought on by the death of an elderly parent, as compared to the anxiety that comes from a traumatic event (eg. being attacked) or slow descent into a negative life situation (eg. a bad relationship). And that these forms or anxiety and depression are completely different to chronic mental health issues such as major depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.

Yes, diet may help to varying degrees in each scenario.

But of course anyone using food as a coping mechanism is hardly going to be easily able to modify their diet. That would require planning and will power and research – things that a depressed person would hardly be motivated to do, or consider worthwhile, and that give an anxious person just one more thing to be anxious about.

Whilst we can try to assist others with suggestions, we must be aware that the suggestion may not be welcome, ie because it has already been tried before, because it is too simple, or because it’s too difficult for them to take on. Each person has their own story. It’s important we don’t shown people our negative judgements, as it benefits no one.

EZ-M; I did the HCG protocol thanks to Cyndi O’Meara and Anna Kurz Rogers last year. I had been suffering from the effects of a mosquito bite in Bali for 6 years. Gut issues, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, liver issues, kidney issues….all resulting in anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations and heart arrhythmia, along with a gain of 20kg I couldn’t shift despite eating gluten free and very healthy. The protocol gave me a clarity of thought and feeling I hadn’t had for years and am still maintaining. While I still have some health challenges, they are on the improve now I am avoiding the food that adversely affected my body chemistry. 100%, the food you eat affects everything you do and think. If you are ready to change the excuses are no longer important. It’s that simple. Hard though it may be, it’s worth it.

VA; I used to have a low grade constant depression til I gave up gluten and processed sugar. Gone.  VS; It is possible that all the symptoms can be there. They were for me. young as I was, and lacking the self awareness, that these were symptoms. I thought it was just that is who I was.

SS; I seriously have a cupboard and fridge full of everything I need to sustain a healthy life, I know what to eat how to exercise,what to read and how to listen (to endless podcast The wellness couch etc ) But when my black cloud comes in none of the above makes any difference. My choice is still not to medicate.

KS; In my experience food and exercise play a huge role in my mental heath! whenever I’m ‘too busy’ to get out for a walk regularly and eat healthy foods my depression/anxiety rears its ugly head again! making it harder to eat right or exercise and so the negative spiral begins. the only way to pull myself out of it is to get back to whole foods (NO sugar) and exercise! Im a slow learner, as it surprises me how much difference it makes every time i go through the cycle!

KS; it is still there hovering in the background but I am in control of it and can still enjoy life when I’m making heathly choices, rather than IT controlling me!
RW; Many people think they are eating a good, healthy diet, but if you’re following the governments guidelines, you’re not! I’ve been reading an excellent book called ‘GAPS’ – Gut and Psychology Syndrome and diet (& natural supplements) is 100% connected to the gut!! If you don’t believe me, read the book and do the diet!! It has cured many people with Autism, Epilepsy, Depression….. the list goes on!! If you’re guts not right, with the right nutrients and good bacteria, it affects everything!! Are you familiar with the GAPS diet Cyndi?  Anna Kurz Rogers Hi everyone, I am Cyndi’s coach for these protocols as she mentions in an earlier comment. Everyday I am blessed to share our members journeys to great joy, happiness and abundant health. Thankyou Cyndi O’Meara. xx

JL; I lifted my month long depression after buying cyndis book. That plus getting enough sleep and walking a few times a week. I believe!

FD; Well some people are born with a mental illness (unfortunately) and Im sure diet and lifestyle improvements can help, but part of it is also genetic and fairly unchangeable

AM; I’m also so surprised at the lengths people will go to with dr, diets and supplements and the time and money spent on this, but do not exercise?
CF;I like what you say and how you say it. My family is and has been littered with the casualties of mental illness and I’ve also seen the brickwalls that come up when I suggest that foods could be a contributing factor. With the reliance on traditional medicine many don’t seek the alternatives that may at least help alleviate symptoms, or in some instances release them from the mental illness nightmare.

SK; As a Medical Herbalist, Homoeopath & passionate health food nut I certainly believe 100% that our diet affects our entire being. However – I have suffered depression on & off for many years – thankfully now mostly off & only treated with natural & complementary treatments. There are many factors that affect our state of mental health. Food is certainly a huge factor but there are many others ie MTHFR polymorphisms. Many of my clients in clinic who suffer depression I have confirmed blood pathology confirming this diagnosis. Yes there are foods & specialist diet protocols that help significantly but often for these people I have found that it is only a part of a treatment plan. If you have any advice Cyndi on how I can better assist to treat this condition with food I’d love to hear. I recommend a diet rich in leafy greens & blanched kale smoothies as a source of methyl folate. a diet rich in lean proteins & eggs to support neurotransmitter & rich essential fats & abundant rainbow vegetables everyday. Thank you
GP; The link between depression and nutrition cannot be underestimated…I agree with you Jacqui.

LD; I don’t suffer from depression and I am always a happy person but a few times recently I was on anti-biotics due to sinus infections and I noticed that I got very down and would cry for no reason, so I guess putting those chemicals into my body was doing more than just curing my infection.

KW; Hmmm, from someone who was told they were bi polar AND schizophrenic and would NEVER be off medication for the rest of their life… I am now totally clear of medication. The link between food, exercise and ATTITUDE can never be underestimated. And before you poo poo this, I was gravely ill for 10 yrs, hospitalized dozens of times, under HUGE amounts of anti depressants and anti psychotics AND underwent at least 24 bouts of mind zapping shock therapy and here I am, totally drug free….cognitive therapy was an eye opener and catalyst to improve, along with trying to understand why real food works best. My life line is that I lived overseas for many years, in a place where we had to make food from scratch, no processed stuff and boy was it the life line I needed. The lessons Cyndi is trying to teach us is not some pie in the sky reasoning, but basic, honest, life feeding nutrition. Can’t thank you enough for helping me to confront what many of us want to hide from Cyndi…that food should be food…not chemicals or processes.

MB; I definitely believe that exercise and healthy eating habits contribute to a better outcome for people with mental illness but I most certainly do not believe it can cure the problem . As I think that a chemical imbalance in the brain is part of the problem . People with mental illness need therapy with someone to expel the shit that is going on in their mind . Mind and brain 2 different things . A nice hit of endorphins released into a chemically imbalance brain can do wonders however too much of this release into a brain of for eg a bipolar person can actually create a high that is not helpful for a BP sufferer . Bipolar is cyclic so whilst the patient is loving the high there is inevitably going to be a low which can be dangerous for the individual. BP people are accustomed to suicidal tendencies and this is the worst thing for any bodies health . So I think people definitely need to study the type of mental illness they are dealing at the start .

MB; I will say this status and the response to it is great. It’s good to get people talking about this issue and hearing what’s worked for whom . Everybody is different and come from different experiences and knowledge bases but we can share our ideas and all come away from it enriched with knowledge and something new to try .

KKS; Many are saying that diet cant cure mental illness….and in bad cases that are already set this is more than likely true, or at least very hard to do. But what keeps screaming out at me, with the rapidly increasing cases of mental health problems and in alarmingly younger people, is that bad diet in many cases over time is what is causing much of this. So while you may not be able to cure yourself completely with diet, I do believe you can prevent your children and future generations from falling victim to this epidemic by cutting out the hundreds of chemicals consumed daily! It is black and white to me that a mental illness, which is classed as a chemical imbalance, is caused mostly by the invasion of unknown and unnatural chemicals we load into and onto out bodies on a daily basis. Including the small developing brains and bodies of children! It amazes me that people dont read ingredients or even realise just what they are ingesting…..if a packaged food was served up to you as its chemical self (before processing to make it smell and taste good) I can guarantee you wouldnt eat it…
PR; My own bout with major depression 27 years back was set off by a traumatic heartbreak after falling wildly in love. It was really horrible beyond anything I could have imagined experiencing…but I did have among other things, some musical spirit guides to help see me through the trauma. Today while I have ups and downs and living in this dangerous, crazy and toxic world populated mostly by a whole lot of disturbed and deluded people continues to be a challenge for everyone, and still gets lonely at times, I am depression-free and far healthier and more alive than almost all 49 year olds I see around me, having followed a whole foods and mostly-rawfood diet since 1998. Being a free-spirit who has no secrets, and who rejects anonyminity and continues to speak my mind is so vital for my spirit – even as this mode of being my authentic self has created some crazy and difficult situations for me as well, as it does for all true Spiritual Warriors from time to time. Incididentally, and relevant to the original post, I recalled going back to my old depression support group around 1999, trying to turn on some old buddies to things I was doing..but the experience was a total failure. It is probably the reason when I at one point seriously considered entering the holistic health field, I declined. My observation is that the vast majority of people are unwilliing or unable to take seriously their own healing or wholing and make changes, even when they are informed and guided as to what to do. This often makes the job of the typical holistic health worker as dispiriting and exhausting as the typical “working for the man” jobs that most people perform for a living.. unless the person is both deeply called to such work and also learns strategies to cope with the disappointments and failures. So I do deeply admire individuals like you Cyndi, but even as I have plenty of knowledge myself, being a healer or coach is just not something I can do myself…my path and passion is music and singing!

CB; I’m very passionate about this topic!

PGL; Can’t wait to start on the HCG protocol, not just for the weight loss aspect, but hopefully to increase overall well being. A lot of things do come on gradually, but sometimes we don’t register what is happening to us until we have hit the brick wall.

LC; wow, this is a controversial topic, great for discussion and of course everyone might have a different opinion and each health professional a different approach. I certainly agree with Cyndi that nutrition is CRUCIAL in managing mental illness, as is exercise, though my background in psychology and experience working with clients says that the context of their lives (are they stressed, what coping mechanisms are they using, what support do they have, their circle of influence, their socioeconomic status) also has a major impact. I believe Cyndi is also eluding to the importance of self awareness … a big part of this is learning to honour and listen to and honour our selves and respond to our bodies cries for help or needs as early as possible.

NO; Without actually reading everyone’s comments (cause there’s sooooo many of them) I think that alot of people THINK they are eating healthy but don’t really know all the facts and I think there’s alot who don’t want to hear about what they shouldn’t be eating because they already feel like they’re missing out, or will be missing out. The more I learn the more I realize that Im not missing out at all and I don’t feel deprived anymore.

LMW; Everyone’s story is different. I took the plunge and tried it. LIFE ALTERING. I will never look back.

WB; I agree with you! I was diagnosed with coeliac (problem with gluten, wheat etc) almost 14 years ago now and retrospectively can see the damage it was doing, it is astonishing that food can do so much damage to us causing depression, weight loss, weight gain, memory problems, exhaustion. Most astonishing was other people’s reactions and even some doctors to my declining health………..bad nerves, not eating enough fibre/good food, all in your mind, must be anorexia, get a grip everyone is sick of listening to your sighs (didn’t know I was doing that), get more rest, hahaha well that didn’t fix anything. but not eating gluten was all it took to start gaining weight and feeling more energetic, and part of the human race again. still get tired but nothing like that zombie trying to rear 3 kids under 5 at the time. never underestimate what food can do to you!

MD; AP this is a really good thread you should read, and NP

VR; Every person is an individual obviously – what works for one may not work in the same way for another – there are many variations in the type and cause of illness, as well as our inherited genes and the culture/environment we grew up in. In my experience, eating more nutritious food and gardening/exercise has made a significant improvement in my lifelong struggle against depression. However I also had help from, people who loved me regardless… being able to speak out my struggle to someone else who cared enough to listen, both professional and personal – to know I had been heard and understood helped more than I can express. WE are emotional creatures made for relationship with others, and many people have had their emotions, hopes and dreams stamped on and even destroyed by those who should have been there to help them blossom . We need love and nurture physically, emotionally, spiritually – nutrition is a big part of the healing process but certainly not the only part.  Changing Habits They say if you ask the right question the right answers will come, I must have asked the right question. This is the most informative, discussion I’ve seen on my face book page. Congratulations to all who have contributed, I would love to copy this whole discussion and put it into a pdf for all to read as there are many pearls of wisdom. Thank you to all who have contributed. The discussion is not finished, make sure you share this with your family and friends so that many more people searching for answers have the opportunity to learn by all these experiences. Thank you all. With much love Cyndi O’Meara

PN; I started practicing bikram yoga, it changed my life, maybe even saved it

CV; Good food for me=better mental health, fresh food and veg filled days are always better and happier for me I’m less lethargic less negative and depressed it most definitely is true we are what we eat or shall I say we feel how we eat, crappy diet equals crappy feeling

 

STOP

 

BF; The negative replies come from people who are negative in the first place – may even have relating issues – and cannot see how much impact food and exercise have in their lives.  

SJ; I am bipolar but I mostly suffer from depression. I am worse, the more additives and chemicals I eat. The problem is, when I am depressed I don’t care about myself so I don’t do what I need to do to get better. I believe there is such a thing as ‘a diet of depression’. I think if anyone ate crap filled with chemicals and additives, high fat and bad carbs, no fruit and vege, that it would make you depressed. I have also noticed in my son that if he eats artificially colours & flavours, the next day he has a bad & sad response. He is down on himself and mopey.  Limited exercise, staying indoors and lots of computer/tv time don’t help either

JB; My mind was (and is) a powerful organ. It has a safe place called ‘denial’. It took for me to reach a rock bottom for me to go upwards ! Depression took a long time to diagnose, a long time to accept, a long time to turn around and become motivated, and its taking time to become healthy again… I am progressing (finally after 16years )

CB; then what was a bad day was happening more and more, till I realized it was depression/anxiety. it wasn’t that I wasn’t listening to my body, I just didn’t know what it was saying or what to do about it. I really didn’t know how much the food we eat affects us, I believed it was an environmental thing that required drugs

FJM; I have had depression since the age of 14. I went undiagnosed for at least 24 years. Since then it is easy to control with less gluten and dairy intake, exercising and having hobbies. I had no idea what was wrong with me for so long. But now my diet especially has improved. I stay away from processed food and take away and it makes a huge difference .

KM; You are Every fiber and molecule of what we put in our Bodies….Negative people do not on the norm eat that well….And it shows…to them its Normal. For you to say they shouldn’t eat McDonalds 10 times a week upsets them.

NN: I completely agree with you real food and movement is needed to facilitate the healing process or how else is the body going to get the right nutrients, to make the neurotransmitters required to make us feel better eg for the body to make serotonin it needs tryptophan, vitamin B6, vitamin c, zinc and b2 if you are deficient in any of these nutrients i.e. from a poor diet, then how can you possible feel good. Mental health is complex and there are many factors that play a role but eating well is part of the healing process.

AG; Diet and exercise make all the difference for me. I now refer to my nature walks as ‘my anxiety drug’. I didn’t make these changes when I suffered from depression as a teenager because I was not educated about the relevance of good health when it comes to mental health. It wasn’t until I picked up your book in 2005 that it suddenly dawned on me what I needed to do to turn my life around. It’s taken a long time to change life long habits but I’m so grateful I now know. Thanks Cyndi x

LA.B; It’s wonderfully valid to look at food as a tool in holistic well being – it makes sense. But it is only one tool of many needed. Working in the mental health field I have had the honor of becoming more aware of my own states as well as watching others discover, and move through their own. I love that food is part of the process. It is not as simple as listening to the body if you don’t have the capacity or understanding of it’s importance in the first place. Many of the clients I have worked with have experienced trauma early on and as a result they are rarely ‘fully’ connected to their ‘higher self’ (in neurological terms this would be the prefrontal cortex which relates to reflective thinking for example). So having the capacity to be aware of their bodies is limited or non existent due to their brain occupying a mode of survival or perhaps even that neurological pathways are so strong elsewhere they need ‘rebuilding’ or ‘reconnecting’. But when made aware of what is going on even in their brains, the realm of possibilities opens including better choices to feed their body mind and soul. Nutrition has a very real stake in brain development…Anyway hope this helps – it’s just one theory among many many different ones we can use to work with people. I’m sure that others have very different thoughts on what works etc…this is a growing evolving one I am interested in.

MCK; I suffer severe anxiety to the point that it can affect my life, it’s horrible and I don’t like being like it. I think it’s a bit of a spiral because when I wake up when my anxiety is at a bad time I don’t feel like exercising so I don’t, I don’t feel like eating well so I either eat junk or eat nothing if I can’t be bothered, I also can’t be bothered looking after myself properly. I need to learn to eat, exercises and live well during those hard times.

RE; My symptoms initially were a side-effect to the pill (which I quit) then symptoms resurfaced as postnatal depression but didn’t want to admit it (supposedly quite common!) so didn’t do anything. When I tried to talk to 2 different drs I was patronized. Becoming pregnant again, becoming even more down and worried about what my toddler was witnessing of my negative black moods prompted me to do something else. Found a better dr, tried antidepressants but the laissez faire attitude they brought scared me (when it wore off). Tried to blood type diet & after 2 weeks felt SO much better; no more overwhelming downers. Eventually we could pick that the problem was wheat. 7 years later & I’m doing well. My motivation…my family. They don’t need an over emotional mother/wife!

RWA; I am very interested to hear your thoughts Cyndi O’Meara, on GP’s who practice the philosophy of Bio-Balance Health Australia or the @Walsh research Institute USA, in regard to mental illness.

JP; I’m always bemused that no matter what you say about health (“you” meaning anyone who writes about health issues online), there’s always somebody who comments “That doesn’t apply to me / my relative / my friend” as if that person is not quite human and the biological facts that apply to everyone else don’t apply to them

PR; I can verify that 100%, as a friend of mine is amazingly unwell and has been for years, but is also addicted to HJ’s and when challenged about his diet, becomes exceedingly angry.   JM; We both certainly feel more negative and down, questioning our own worth when we haven’t been looking after ourselves, emotionally, mentally and physically including good food and & exercise.

MTD; While there is truth that diet helps and certainly with my son as with what Sarah said- my son has the same reaction. But I eat healthier because it does help in my “up” times instead of feeling down all the times) the good and the bad), my anxiety and depression occur regardless of the food I eat because mine in connected to trauma. So I agree that good food is important to healing, I just think that to say a bad diet being the cause of depressions and anxiety is a dangerous statement. It almost comes off as judgmental and putting the blame on the sufferer. Healthy eating and movement can help in getting through the dark days. And as I said before it makes the ups better.

RB; I can’t discuss it in to I much detail but I have a family member the same. Refuses to see that smoking is linked to health issues its incredibly frustrating hearing reasons that make absolutely no sense and some that are completely the opposite to the facts about certain foods. I have so much i want to share but am always met with a negative response when I try discuss it.

MK; Interesting question! food is like a drug so it can be quite hard to break away from. And its hard to ‘believe’ in your mind that food could make you feel so bad. In a way I am lucky because I am on a journey to help my body feel better by adapting the foods I eat and its having a beneficial effect on my mind .

SNCM; Give me a celery stick and a walk around the park over an anti depressant any day. It took me a long time to make the changes that I needed to make for a healthier and happier life but now that I have started try and stop me. In saying that it took a long time to start you have to want it. To need it to see that there is something more than what you have because it is not always easy to see it when you are buried by the crap.

KH; Unfortunately, most people treat symptoms with drugs – suppress the healing cycle – which leads to chronic conditions which are inevitably treated with more powerful drugs – If we don’t give the body a chance to heal itself – the results will be deleterious – all the way to the end.

Lovin’ the mix  The hard part is going to a psychologist who is oh to eager to prescribe pills and counseling without looking into what the person is putting into their body and how they are respecting their body with movement. I believe this and cognitive behavioural therapy (thinking positive thoughts) key in recovering… But I guess we stop supporting the drug industry if we simply go for a walk and eat fruit and veggies!

JF;  Hi Cyndi, I resisted medication for a very long time. I have had many episodes of depression since I was 18 but I only went on meds when it got particularly bad 5 years ago. Before going on meds I had many different techniques I would try to help pull me out of the dark including exercise, however those were not working as well as they used to. Back then I didn’t know what I now know about food and I wasn’t eating the best – I was very much self medicating. I don’t remember my doctors ever talking about my diet as part of my therapy though, it was always about my weight/physical health. Going on meds helped me think about what I am exposing myself to on a daily basis, it put me in a frame of mind where I was able to think about my life outside the context of being depressed. I was truly able to help myself then. I am still on meds, but I am slowly lowering my dose, with the firm intention of getting off them for good. We live as low a chemical life as we can, especially because of the meds. I have children with food sensitivities so I am even more conscious of our diet than ever. I think medication should absolutely be a last resort – I thought it was for me, I now know I could have tried better with my diet first. However, going on the meds did save my life, so I cannot take away from that. If anyone asks me, I do recommend that meds be a last resort for them too, and always in conjunction with CBT/counseling. It is hard though, when you are that far down in your depression, to think of natural practical ways to help yourself. You mind is consumed with the depression and negativity – going for a walk is often the last thing on your mind even though it could be the best lifesaver for you that day.

AH; I feel so much better having changed my lifestyle, however, it only came about from a push from my husband basically telling me that we were both fat and needed to change. I had never made the link between my state of mind and what I was eating. Feeling emotionally well has been a by-product. I can’t see anybody -doctors or otherwise- having the ability to have made me join that back to basics program! And I still remember how cranky i was at my husband!!

CS; A health professional who thinks there modality is the only modality to help/heal people is like a someone in the building industry who thinks you can use a hammer for everything. Sadly a lot of people think that want a quick fix, often for a good reason eg cannot take time off work with flu symptoms.

SM; people saying negative comments about you and making jokes, even though they saying that they are only joking and you laugh with them but after awhile, over the years, you begin to believe it your self which is makes it worse and you continue to make mistakes.

RW;  As a starting point…food is our medicine and medicine is our food. (thanks Hippocrates). Then tailor to individual situations, preferences and mindset.

KDW; I have suffered from depression and anxiety for quite a few years, although it is just mild, I am not on any medication for it. I have found CBT to be the best solution. Cyndi, you are right when you say that we didn’t just wake up one day and have the illness. I know mine came over slowly, possibly a by-product of my childhood. However when I started noticing symptoms, I just presumed they would go away. Then they didn’t. I think it was a combination of the stigma attached to mental health, which meant I didn’t want to admit I had a problem, and I didn’t want others to know. Also I kind of thought that I deserved the problem, that somehow it was my fault. So I kind of treated it like a punishment. As years have gone by and I have done more research, and the stigma is slowly disappearing, I have started doing things to treat it, with good eating, and exercise (although not enough yet). I hope this has maybe helped you understand why I didn’t jump on to the problem straight away Cyndi

LB-R; Well, it’s plain and simple.
The best form of defence is attack.
So these negative comments from people are commonly a problem that will revert to something of there own issues.
I personally wouldn’t take it on board or even let them have that much power to bother you.
And truth is, where depression and anxiety are concerned, a healthy lifestyle is evident for a healthy mind.

Changing Habits Ok here I go, I too began to experience anxiety after the death of my Mum and sister, I kept trying to deny it, but it kept surfacing especially at night on going to sleep or waking in the middle of the night. I thought it was the stress of the loss so I began meditating as soon as I felt the anxiety, put ear plugs in with a guided meditation as soon as it came. It wasn’t until I did the 4 Phase Fat Elimination Protocol that it disappeared completely (I believe the stress of the loss of two important women in my life exacerbated the situation).

The Protocol helped me understand what foods created the anxiety. Once that was figured out I just had to avoid the food. For me I didn’t want that feeling anymore so chose not to eat the foods (many) that caused it. Sometimes it is about really listening to the whispers of the body before they start to scream at you. I think this is where the problem lays, we don’t listen to the bodies whispers and continue to do the same thing and then of course get the same result that just gets worse.

If you are interested in really looking at what may be causing issues then an loss protocol is the way to go. For more information please go to the link below and read all about it. There is a load of free information as well as a 70 minute free audio explaining the loss process. It is worth it and if done properly works! Effort is needed and support and we help as much as we can through a forum with a trained coach. When you first look at the protocol you may think it is for weight loss, but it is far more then that. Yes you lose weight, but more importantly you learn what foods not only put weight on you, cause inflammation but also create clarity of mind and those that take it away. Good luck on your journey back to physical and mental health.4 Phase Fat Elimination HCG Protocol

TH; It’s not just depression that causes negativity. Amine reactions bring out lots of anger and and depression like symptoms in people that don’t have have depression. After doing the loss diet I was shocked how angry I would get after certain foods. I use to put my temper at the end of the day down to being tired and the kids being difficult. Now I know it was food related and I look differently at situations when I do get angry. Finding out I had this intolerance has saved my sanity, I’m sure the kids much happier with me now too. There is never a one pill fix all, and I think people vent as an expression of frustration when something doesn’t work. After10 years of dealing with Crohns I’m still fighting through a maze and the set backs are so depressing but each year I’m getting better and as long as I keep picking myself up and fight on I know I’ll find the answers.

TB; I think it’s a knowledge thing. I would never have considered my diet would or could contribute to my mental health. I think if a friend suggested it was diet I would have doubted it. I understand that it seems obvious to those that know but at the time I had no idea of the impact diet had on anything other than weight.

KDW; Cyndi, I am going to come straight out and ask you something, and depending on your answer, I will buy this product today. Will this help me in some way? I have depression, anxiety and arthritis. I am tired of being “lied” to by professionals who all tell me their own beliefs.

CM; When I had depression many, many years ago – it was a gradual thing so I didn’t really notice the decline enough to say to myself ‘I’m not well I should look at my diet.’ I was in my late teens plus no doctor ever suggested this, nor even asked how much I was drinking etc – and the solution was of course to put me on antidepressants. I have since learned this was only a band-aid solution and finally went down the natural health /natural therapist path and am well and truly off medication. Our Kinesiolost was a life saver for us. I used to feel comforted by the fact that the medical profession said the depression was a disease and therefore it wasn’t really my fault but when I finally realised I greatly influenced not only my physical health but my mental health I realised I had A LOT to do with it. That’s not an easy thing for someone in the midst of depression to comprehend let alone acknowledge/understand. I certainly wouldn’t have back then and would have been very defensive. It can take a long time to ‘come around’ depending on your openess to new (generally non-mainstream ) things and also the opinions of those closest to you on these matters to. A lot of people come up against a lot of resistance there which can be very hard to break through as well. It’s worth it though!

FB-B; Wow controversial… Yes I do believe eating well and exercising is vital for the healing process of people dealing with mental illness, however, over the last few years my thoughts on medication have changed… I used to be against meds to help with anxiety and depression but now I am against those who do not see the journey as a holistic one…. Mind, body, spirit.

SW; Food is most of the answer – the rest is get out in the sunshine, connect with the earth and nature, move, and make time to be quiet… Many people’s depression is being caused by a combination of lack of nutrition, lack of sunshine (vitamin D), chemicals etc affecting the endocrine system – sex hormones and in particular the thyroid. So many people have undiagnosed thyroid problems, but all can be turned around by moving back to a more ‘natural’ lifestyle.

RR; I had a friend who told me that life was too short to eat well and exercise. Her life might be short but mine won’t be because I’m very aware of what my family eat and how much exercise we get. Exercise is my antidepressant

KDW; It’s very interesting reading all your comments. Thanks everyone   Changing Habits Kellie Diane Walden I cannot promise anything, but I do know that arthritis is one of the issues that clears up for many people who do the loss protocol. I also know that many have clarity of mind as they do the protocol, blood pressure, diabetes and other ailments are all helped. I’m not saying this is an easy protocol, it wasn’t for me although some women and men on the forum say it is easy, I guess it is an individual thing. It is only $197.00 plus postage and it includes the protocol, a private forum, a coach, a meditation tape, greens, colloidals, seaweed salt and probiotics. Before you buy make sure you read and listen to everything from the link then you can make up your own mind. We have 3000 people in the private forum all with different ailments, physical and mental, our coach Anna Kurz Rogers has been hailed as a saviour for many especially getting through the protocol as well as understanding it.

JC; I am bipolar however I have eaten well for years. Around the time I first had symptoms was probably the healthiest I have ever been. Of course, like anybody, I feel better if I am eating well but after years of trying to come off medication I now know that for me that’s not an option. If I come off medication I end up in hospital. I wish with all my heart that I could say differently.

KDW; Thanks so much Cyndi for your straight forward, honest, detailed answer.

SR; My mother died. Prevented me from getting out of bed for a long time. Then post-natal depression with my daughter because I wanted my mum but she was already gone. I agree that food plays an important part, but changing my diet would not have been enough to get me out if the state I was in both times.

Changing Habits Susan Reilly my Dad always says to me, it’s not what happens in life that matters it’s how we handle it. By being strong in mind and body we learn to cope with life’s tragedies. We all experience loss and tragedy some have to cope with so much more then others. Food, movement, sunshine, nature, spiritual life etc all help us cope with our own lives.

JC; I don’t know about anyone else but I hate the word cope. The word cope is used by well meaning people who have probably not had personal experience of severe mental illness. I was a healthy young woman who ate well and exercised regularly when I was struck down. Not so much about coping as surviving. And it sure is a miracle that I did, one I am thankful for every day.  KH; Having children rid me of my anxieties

JP; My depression came on very slowly, from the age of 14, which was also the time that I started taking antibiotics for “acne” (just a few pimples, really, and definitely not worth the pain and suffering these antibiotics caused me). I was on the antibiotics for three years. Then I went off them and onto the pill (suggested by my doctor) and had probably the worst depression of my life for that year. I later on developed symptoms of fibromyalgia, and life became more and more difficult. I slowly started to become very suspicious of pharmaceuticals and the medical fraternity, as neither of them had helped me, and they couldn’t explain why I had the problems I had. I had an epiphany of sorts when a holistic-minded doctor suggested vitamin C shots for my severe fatigue. 10 minutes after that shot my depression had gone. Completely. Just like that. After years and years of torture. It eventually came back, but I realised from this experience that it was physiological, not psychological, and that was a turning point. Since then, I have done hours and hours of research, detoxed, gone organic, changed my diet from a healthy one to an extremely healthy one, taken many supplements, including iodine and high-dose B vitamins, and turned my life around. To me, depression is just another symptom of poor health. I am not 100% yet, but my depression is gone and I have no doubt in my mind it is possible to get to 100% now that I understand my body and the main causes of just about every illness: toxicity and deficiency.

RH; I had a 15 year battle with infertility… I eventually lost my ovaries to cancer!! massive wake up call for me…. I changed my diet & exercise. Although I will always live with the pain of infertility… I’ve never been happier… completely overcome depression. My husband’s says it is because I’ve been “fixed”! (no hormones) or could be diet!

KDW;  Cyndi, is this protocol ok for “morbidly obese” people ?  JP; Oh, and of course gut health is also of paramount importance.   Changing Habits The problem with eating healthy is what do we know is healthy eating? There are so many options. The heart foundation gives their tick of approval to margarine and lean cuisine. The diabetic association believes drinking diet coke instead of real coke is a step in the right direction. The nutritional guidelines says that we should eat cereals and breads as part of a healthy diet. Other organisations think low fat, high carbs, others high fat, high protein and so on and so on. I don’t agree with any of it. What I do agree with is a general eating regime of REAL FOOD (not lean cuisine, breakfast cereals, modified low fat milks margarine and diet coke). Once you are eating REAL FOOD then you need to start looking at improving the source of your food, local and seasonal. Then is the tricky part, finding out what your individual body likes and doesn’t like and this you do via an loss protocol, already discussed in this post. This is all achievable but you have to do the steps and you have to become informed in order to know what you are doing.

ME; Hi Cindy. H here. The HCG diet has helped a few members of  my family as you already know. I’m suffering fogginess, depression and anxiety and think I have for a long while. Thing is I don’t think this diet is going to be right for me because I am already probably too thin from having Grave’s disease and breast feeding a 10 month old 4-5 times a day. My blood results show that I’m hyperthyroid (with jittery feeling, agitated and increased heart rate/ anxiety) but my hair analysis I had recently shows I have hypothyroid, slow metabolism symptoms (makes sense re; lethargy and depression). This “hypothyroid” state is probably due to having to go back on thyroid suppressant drugs after a recent relapse. I’m at my wits end and will try anything but not sure the HCG protocol could apply to me? I follow your work closely and think you do an amazing job – seriously awe inspiring. Thank you!

Changing Habits Kellie Diane Walden we have had people lose 60kg on this protocol, it takes time to do this but after three and four times through the protocol they are there, some have also stopped taking most of their diabetes medication and other meds they no longer need. For someone morbidly obese it takes time as it took time to get there.

CCN; I must say firstly ppl get waspish when the truth is spoken & they don’t want to admit it. I know I use, heck prob sti so sometimes. I’ve known that healthy food & exercise is a key to a happier life but, have I been doing it? Nope. Why? I’ve come up w/so many excuses over the yrs & recently in working w/an NLP practitioner & an EFT one I realize that I use food not & cola not only as comfort but as a self destruction to “punish” myself so to spk. Well that is now stopping thank goodness. I just spent 3 days sick with a headache most likely withdrawing from fast food & cola. Now THAT was an eye opener! 

KM;i have bipolar.. its awful at times but i find eating well excersise and my children around im alot better  
PL; Having personally successfully overcome depression and anxiety, the first part of healing is accepting complete responsibility for my mental/emotional state. I realised that you do not suffer from mental illness (as if it is some external entity that you happen to catch or get struck down by). I realised that we manufacture depression and anxiety ourselves. So i looked at all aspects of my lifestyle…exercise, diet, emotional coping skills/beliefs, physical balance, relationships, work, rest, play. I realised that I had to change certain aspects of my lifestyle if i wanted to change my mental health. As it so happened at the time my nutrition and exercise were exemplary so I had to look at other areas of my lifestyle and I addressed those imbalanced areas of my lifestyle which then helped me to balance my mind. But all areas of lifestyle were important in supporting my health in the process. So my advice to those doing depression and anxiety is to not focus on treating the symptom….instead focus on what lifestyle improvements you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Nutrition plays a part but is only part of the puzzle.  KDW; Thanks Cyndi

Changing Habits Muvva Evangeline Heh Hatty, the Hunter Gatherer Elimination Protocol would be a far better choice for you. This is for people who want to continue to do hard exercise, pregnant, breast feeding or have no weight to lose. If you have the antibodies to your thyroid then you should never eat any wheat or gluten again, not even a small amount. Here is the link to the HG Elimination https://changinghabits.com.au/hunter-gatherer-loss-protocol

 Hunter Gatherer Elimination Protocol  changinghabits.com.au  CE; I think it’s because the way you word your statements makes them come across as simplifying and even trivialising mental illness. A persons mind is their entire existence, every thought, value, belief, memory and emotional state. While diet and exercise can have a massive impact on each of these areas, it is far too complex to be ‘fixed’ with a one-dimensional approach. You posed food as the cure-all for mental illness as though it’s a symptom of poor lifestyle, which I have no doubt is true for some. However, for others it is a debilitating illness with no explainable cause, and frequently occurs even in those living extremely healthy lifestyles. 

I imagine your wording and trivialising implications are also the issue when you approach issues such as autism and that would be why you receive such explosive reactions.

While your opinion as a nutritionist in these areas is valuable, your posts sound like that of a journalist selectively presenting half of a story and if you want to avoid much of the skepticism around these ideas, you should start by altering the way you present your facts, and ensuring that anything you claim as truth is factual, and backed by peer-reviewed evidence. 

DS; I would say we! as in most people are just so brainwashed! that is why you are getting such negative responses, I find all your posts to be very helpful, objective,and in the end trying to assist in finding ways to assist a natural way! you know what is said you can lead !!!!! keep up the great work!!

ME; I had severe anxiety and some depression and only ate what wouldn’t make me feel sick – I became extremely malnourished. Once I supplemented nutrients, ate vegetables and protein for breakfast, and followed a dietary plan, along with exercise I improved so quickly. People who think this can only be fixed through medication are narrow minded. 

NC; Hi Cyndi where does epigentics and the increased allostatic load fit in? I absolutely agree poor diet choices and food intolerance’s play a big role in all chronic illnesses (mental and physical). What about the toxicities carried down with each with each generation? Love your work.

AN; Keep spreading the good news that we are what we eat and what we put on our skin and into our minds 2. 

NL; Since I lost my mum I have had huge anxiety… but it only started when she got sick… then again so did the stress of loosing her and finishing uni so my diet changed and soon I was eating crap. so my anxiety worsened till I was almost house bound. I got pregnant with my son now 2 and being pregnant for the first time I went instantly back to eating healthy and properly and I honestly have never felt better in my life and my anxiety disappeared! I do now and again get anxiety with certain triggers but I do strongly feel it is a lot less if I stick to my healthy food options rather than panicking and going for the chock and chips. I believe what you say is true, I saw first hand the biggest change in my ‘mental health’ when I focused on healthy food for my growing baby. 

KS; All for diet, exercise, health assessment and cbt before medication however, after reading “My Beautiful Genome” (a great read) It’s pretty clear that your genetics can make life extremely difficult for many people and it may be a very long hard road. I had schizophrenia-like symptoms before being diagnosed as a celiac and eliminating gluten. Since then I have been obsessed with food and nutrtion, constantly improving myself. But I feel I have reached a point where food/exercise is not going to cure my dodgy mental state. (although it is so much better than it was!) 

PS; Depression and anxiety are more of a verb than a noun… More a “doing” than a “having” and it’s the verbs that’s make the changes. What you eat, what you drink and what you think ARE at the heart of mental well being and that INCLUDES bipolar, schizophrenia, aspergers… ALL these conditions have at the very least been improved and managed effectively with that at its core. Behaviour changes outcomes both genetically blueprinted and belief based and there is so much evidence to support this now that any mental health practitioner that looks at these issues one dimensionally is doing clients a dis-service. The other issue is how attached to diagnoses so many become. Identifying the state is one thing, having patients identify WITH it and define themselves by it i.e. “my depression” is also very unhealthy and unhelpful. 

MW; I complete agree with the medically proven fact that diet, exercise and lifestyle are the major causes of most modern day mental illnesses. It’s a pity that most people are enabled by their “doctors” instead of educated.  TG; Gluten caused me some depression and anxiety issues big time. I got glutened by accident a couple of months back. Worst weekend followed of anxiety through the roof, over reactions and tired but wired feelings for 3 days. I am now a nicer, calmer person. Gluten defiantly affects my moods.

AC; ive found I get anxiety really bad at that time of the month and I don’t know why? I asked my dr and he said too start taking the pill but don’t take the red part of it so I don’t get a cycle at all but im not sure as I thought all woman had too menstruate once a month????

KF; Thought I’d add some testosterone to this conversation lol.
Wow what a great topic Cyndi. As a trainer at I Choose Awesome I see the effect depression has on my clients. Their eating, exercise and motivation.

The 10min rule is a gr8 one…. don’t feel like exercising? Just do 10min then see how you feel. Chances the release of endorphins will result in u training longer. Aim for 3x30min session per week to start feeling the difference.

Keep eating simple.. if u can pick it from a tree, pull it out of the ground or pluck feathers or scales from it, eat it! Lol

Thanks for sharing team, gratitude 
RFM; 3 years ago I became very sick. My Dr. said I may have MS. Testing was inconclusive, but was told that we’d have to test again to see if they show up later. I had every horrible symptom, and it felt like my body had been hijacked. I also have always suffered from depression off and on through my lifetime. 7 months after the MS incident, I had a complete emotional breakdown that put me in the mental hospital for 3 weeks and sent me home with a bipolar 2 diagnosis. I was a total mess. I was so depressed, I baked and ate my way through the holiday season, and just kept getting worse. On Christmas day, my husband was searching online for natural remedies for mental illness & autoimmune disorders…he came across a plant based lifestyle. That evening we read everything we could on the internet about the vegan lifestyle and felt in our hearts that we needed to give it a try. On Dec 26th 2011 my life changed forever…I had no idea what was coming, and I owe my husband so much for caring enough to search until we found the answer. It’s been almost a year and a half, and I am a totally different person! Not only have I lost over 60 lbs, but my energy is through the roof, I have ZERO MS symptoms (unless I start eating white sugar again), and I exercise like a maniac. Today I ran 10 miles (never thought I’d be a runner!), and hiked for an hour w/ my family. Exercise is paramount for me. I have read books, researched hundreds of hours about the link between what we put in our bodies, exercise and mental health. We have gotten A LOT of flack for our change in lifestyle, some friends had to be fired…and some family we just ignore their ignorance. Most of the time though, they see the change in me and know that there has to be some merit to what I’m doing. I own almost every documentary regarding this topic, and lend them out as much as I can. People can debate for all eternity for all I care…I am proof! My life is proof enough for me. I still take the lowest dose of lamictal for a mood stabilizer, but I look forward to getting off that as well in the future. People don’t have to believe the truth, for it to still be 100% true. i just hope my life shines to others that are hurting like I was. I love coaching people and giving any knowledge I have to friends and anyone who needs it. And I must say, there are many who sincerely ask for help. Anyway, that’s my little story. I am the proof! 
RFM; I’m reading a great book right now called “Spark” which is about the relationship between exercise and mood, clarity of mind…all sorts of things. 
MJ-C; I believe you, but it is hard to get the one with the mental issue to take food and excise as help, as they have blinkers on. 

SP; I went into a real deep depression over a period of a month. I couldn’t explain why and nothing seemed to lift it (exercise, fun with my family, things I loved…). At the same time I’d discovered some flavoured potato chips and couldn’t get enough of them and was going through a few bags a week (my weakness) … After a month of tears and deep depression I read the ingredients … Flavour enhancers .. 621,631, 635. Stopped eating them and the depression lifted within 72 hours and I was back to my normal happy self. I can not eat anything with those poisons in them without becoming a teary mess a few hours later. 

SW; Having experience depression and often a lot of anxiety,sometimes and more often while experiencing it its impossible to overcome anything until you realize how bad a situation yr in,and have to force yourself mentally to make a change,otherwise often your left with a grim alternative once that mind set has been shifted yes exercise activity good clean eating and sunshine certain helps and assists in this mind set change and in turn for a better more fruitful life 

RFM; And Shannah Doyle, I agree w/ you somewhat…bipolar runs through the generations in my mom’s side, my grandma was bipolar 1 and pretty much nuts, my cousin is bipolar 1…and I know it’s genetic for me. BUT…I know that eating ALL plant based, not just some, is what’s needed…that is the difference. Many think they are doing it right when they say “I did try eating plant based, I ate way more veggies and fruit, filled my fridge w/ them”…but they still ate dairy, animal products, bad sugars, wheat gluten, processed food out of boxes…and once in a while a big mac & fries. It will not make the difference needed, if those things are involved At ALL. Not even in small quantities. At least for me that’s how it is. I still struggle w/ triggers and sometimes have lows. But they are night and day of how they used to be. Did your friend exercise? That’s the other life changing component. For a bipolar person, reducing the symptoms even to half of what they once were can be life saving. For me, I’m probably have 1/4 of the issues I used to. Anyway, just my thoughts. 

LHA; Kristy Jade, Shannah Doyle and Carly Eaton above make excellent points. The term “mental illness” is now used to envelope a very broad range of issues and I think it is dangerous to say that all mental illness can be attributed to food. 

I am speaking from lifelong experience and to over-simplify mental illness in this way is patronising and insulting. I would not normally weigh into a discussion like this but it is too important for me to ignore. I have seen people suffer real harm as a result of being ill-advised by “experts” with one-dimensional cures for mental illness. 

 

Of course good food and exercise greatly improves our health on all levels, but to offer a one-size-fits-all decree that food will heal is irresponsible and dangerous.

PS. “Lovin’ the mix” above writes about psychologists prescribing pills – in Australia, only registered doctors with a recognised medical degree can prescribe medication.
(see www.psychology.org.au/community/about/ for a full explanation in relation to treatments for mental illness)
Australian Psychological Society : About psychologists  www.psychology.org.auPsychologists are experts in human behaviour, having studied the brain, memory, …See more  KL; I think it’s important to be aware that there’s a difference in anxiety brought on by the death of an elderly parent, as compared to the anxiety that comes from a traumatic event (eg. being attacked) or slow descent into a negative life situation (eg. a bad relationship). And that these forms or anxiety and depression are completely different to chronic mental health issues such as major depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.

Yes, diet may help to varying degrees in each scenario.

But of course anyone using food as a coping mechanism is hardly going to be easily able to modify their diet. That would require planning and will power and research – things that a depressed person would hardly be motivated to do, or consider worthwhile, and that give an anxious person just one more thing to be anxious about.

Whilst we can try to assist others with suggestions, we must be aware that the suggestion may not be welcome, ie because it has already been tried before, because it is too simple, or because it’s too difficult for them to take on. Each person has their own story. It’s important we don’t shown people our negative judgements, as it benefits no one. 

EZ-M; I did the HCG protocol thanks to Cyndi O’Meara and Anna Kurz Rogers last year. I had been suffering from the effects of a mosquito bite in Bali for 6 years. Gut issues, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, liver issues, kidney issues….all resulting in anxiety, panic attacks, palpitations and heart arrhythmia, along with a gain of 20kg I couldn’t shift despite eating gluten free and very healthy. The protocol gave me a clarity of thought and feeling I hadn’t had for years and am still maintaining. While I still have some health challenges, they are on the improve now I am avoiding the food that adversely affected my body chemistry. 100%, the food you eat affects everything you do and think. If you are ready to change the excuses are no longer important. It’s that simple. Hard though it may be, it’s worth it. 

VA; I used to have a low grade constant depression til I gave up gluten and processed sugar. Gone.  VS; It is possible that all the symptoms can be there. They were for me. young as I was, and lacking the self awareness, that these were symptoms. I thought it was just that is who I was.

SS; I seriously have a cupboard and fridge full of everything I need to sustain a healthy life, I know what to eat how to exercise,what to read and how to listen (to endless podcast The wellness couch etc ) But when my black cloud comes in none of the above makes any difference. My choice is still not to medicate.

KS; In my experience food and exercise play a huge role in my mental heath! whenever I’m ‘too busy’ to get out for a walk regularly and eat healthy foods my depression/anxiety rears its ugly head again! making it harder to eat right or exercise and so the negative spiral begins. the only way to pull myself out of it is to get back to whole foods (NO sugar) and exercise! Im a slow learner, as it surprises me how much difference it makes every time i go through the cycle!

KS; it is still there hovering in the background but I am in control of it and can still enjoy life when I’m making heathly choices, rather than IT controlling me!

RW; Many people think they are eating a good, healthy diet, but if you’re following the governments guidelines, you’re not! I’ve been reading an excellent book called ‘GAPS’ – Gut and Psychology Syndrome and diet (& natural supplements) is 100% connected to the gut!! If you don’t believe me, read the book and do the diet!! It has cured many people with Autism, Epilepsy, Depression….. the list goes on!! If you’re guts not right, with the right nutrients and good bacteria, it affects everything!! Are you familiar with the GAPS diet Cyndi?  Anna Kurz Rogers Hi everyone, I am Cyndi’s coach for these protocols as she mentions in an earlier comment. Everyday I am blessed to share our members journeys to great joy, happiness and abundant health. Thankyou Cyndi O’Meara. xx

JL; I lifted my month long depression after buying cyndis book. That plus getting enough sleep and walking a few times a week. I believe! 

FD; Well some people are born with a mental illness (unfortunately) and Im sure diet and lifestyle improvements can help, but part of it is also genetic and fairly unchangeable 

AM; I’m also so surprised at the lengths people will go to with dr, diets and supplements and the time and money spent on this, but do not exercise? 

CF;I like what you say and how you say it. My family is and has been littered with the casualties of mental illness and I’ve also seen the brickwalls that come up when I suggest that foods could be a contributing factor. With the reliance on traditional medicine many don’t seek the alternatives that may at least help alleviate symptoms, or in some instances release them from the mental illness nightmare. 

SK; As a Medical Herbalist, Homoeopath & passionate health food nut I certainly believe 100% that our diet affects our entire being. However – I have suffered depression on & off for many years – thankfully now mostly off & only treated with natural & complementary treatments. There are many factors that affect our state of mental health. Food is certainly a huge factor but there are many others ie MTHFR polymorphisms. Many of my clients in clinic who suffer depression I have confirmed blood pathology confirming this diagnosis. Yes there are foods & specialist diet protocols that help significantly but often for these people I have found that it is only a part of a treatment plan. If you have any advice Cyndi on how I can better assist to treat this condition with food I’d love to hear. I recommend a diet rich in leafy greens & blanched kale smoothies as a source of methyl folate. a diet rich in lean proteins & eggs to support neurotransmitter & rich essential fats & abundant rainbow vegetables everyday. Thank you

GP; The link between depression and nutrition cannot be underestimated…I agree with you Jacqui.

LD; I don’t suffer from depression and I am always a happy person but a few times recently I was on anti-biotics due to sinus infections and I noticed that I got very down and would cry for no reason, so I guess putting those chemicals into my body was doing more than just curing my infection. 

KW; Hmmm, from someone who was told they were bi polar AND schizophrenic and would NEVER be off medication for the rest of their life… I am now totally clear of medication. The link between food, exercise and ATTITUDE can never be underestimated. And before you poo poo this, I was gravely ill for 10 yrs, hospitalized dozens of times, under HUGE amounts of anti depressants and anti psychotics AND underwent at least 24 bouts of mind zapping shock therapy and here I am, totally drug free….cognitive therapy was an eye opener and catalyst to improve, along with trying to understand why real food works best. My life line is that I lived overseas for many years, in a place where we had to make food from scratch, no processed stuff and boy was it the life line I needed. The lessons Cyndi is trying to teach us is not some pie in the sky reasoning, but basic, honest, life feeding nutrition. Can’t thank you enough for helping me to confront what many of us want to hide from Cyndi…that food should be food…not chemicals or processes. 

MB; I definitely believe that exercise and healthy eating habits contribute to a better outcome for people with mental illness but I most certainly do not believe it can cure the problem . As I think that a chemical imbalance in the brain is part of the problem . People with mental illness need therapy with someone to expel the shit that is going on in their mind . Mind and brain 2 different things . A nice hit of endorphins released into a chemically imbalance brain can do wonders however too much of this release into a brain of for eg a bipolar person can actually create a high that is not helpful for a BP sufferer . Bipolar is cyclic so whilst the patient is loving the high there is inevitably going to be a low which can be dangerous for the individual. BP people are accustomed to suicidal tendencies and this is the worst thing for any bodies health . So I think people definitely need to study the type of mental illness they are dealing at the start . 

MB; I will say this status and the response to it is great. It’s good to get people talking about this issue and hearing what’s worked for whom . Everybody is different and come from different experiences and knowledge bases but we can share our ideas and all come away from it enriched with knowledge and something new to try .

KKS; Many are saying that diet cant cure mental illness….and in bad cases that are already set this is more than likely true, or at least very hard to do. But what keeps screaming out at me, with the rapidly increasing cases of mental health problems and in alarmingly younger people, is that bad diet in many cases over time is what is causing much of this. So while you may not be able to cure yourself completely with diet, I do believe you can prevent your children and future generations from falling victim to this epidemic by cutting out the hundreds of chemicals consumed daily! It is black and white to me that a mental illness, which is classed as a chemical imbalance, is caused mostly by the invasion of unknown and unnatural chemicals we load into and onto out bodies on a daily basis. Including the small developing brains and bodies of children! It amazes me that people dont read ingredients or even realise just what they are ingesting…..if a packaged food was served up to you as its chemical self (before processing to make it smell and taste good) I can guarantee you wouldnt eat it…
PR; My own bout with major depression 27 years back was set off by a traumatic heartbreak after falling wildly in love. It was really horrible beyond anything I could have imagined experiencing…but I did have among other things, some musical spirit guides to help see me through the trauma. Today while I have ups and downs and living in this dangerous, crazy and toxic world populated mostly by a whole lot of disturbed and deluded people continues to be a challenge for everyone, and still gets lonely at times, I am depression-free and far healthier and more alive than almost all 49 year olds I see around me, having followed a whole foods and mostly-rawfood diet since 1998. Being a free-spirit who has no secrets, and who rejects anonyminity and continues to speak my mind is so vital for my spirit – even as this mode of being my authentic self has created some crazy and difficult situations for me as well, as it does for all true Spiritual Warriors from time to time. Incididentally, and relevant to the original post, I recalled going back to my old depression support group around 1999, trying to turn on some old buddies to things I was doing..but the experience was a total failure. It is probably the reason when I at one point seriously considered entering the holistic health field, I declined. My observation is that the vast majority of people are unwilliing or unable to take seriously their own healing or wholing and make changes, even when they are informed and guided as to what to do. This often makes the job of the typical holistic health worker as dispiriting and exhausting as the typical “working for the man” jobs that most people perform for a living.. unless the person is both deeply called to such work and also learns strategies to cope with the disappointments and failures. So I do deeply admire individuals like you Cyndi, but even as I have plenty of knowledge myself, being a healer or coach is just not something I can do myself…my path and passion is music and singing! 

CB; I’m very passionate about this topic! 

PGL; Can’t wait to start on the HCG protocol, not just for the weight loss aspect, but hopefully to increase overall well being. A lot of things do come on gradually, but sometimes we don’t register what is happening to us until we have hit the brick wall. 

LC; wow, this is a controversial topic, great for discussion and of course everyone might have a different opinion and each health professional a different approach. I certainly agree with Cyndi that nutrition is CRUCIAL in managing mental illness, as is exercise, though my background in psychology and experience working with clients says that the context of their lives (are they stressed, what coping mechanisms are they using, what support do they have, their circle of influence, their socioeconomic status) also has a major impact. I believe Cyndi is also eluding to the importance of self awareness … a big part of this is learning to honour and listen to and honour our selves and respond to our bodies cries for help or needs as early as possible. 

NO; Without actually reading everyone’s comments (cause there’s sooooo many of them) I think that alot of people THINK they are eating healthy but don’t really know all the facts and I think there’s alot who don’t want to hear about what they shouldn’t be eating because they already feel like they’re missing out, or will be missing out. The more I learn the more I realize that Im not missing out at all and I don’t feel deprived anymore. 

LMW; Everyone’s story is different. I took the plunge and tried it. LIFE ALTERING. I will never look back. 

WB; I agree with you! I was diagnosed with coeliac (problem with gluten, wheat etc) almost 14 years ago now and retrospectively can see the damage it was doing, it is astonishing that food can do so much damage to us causing depression, weight loss, weight gain, memory problems, exhaustion. Most astonishing was other people’s reactions and even some doctors to my declining health………..bad nerves, not eating enough fibre/good food, all in your mind, must be anorexia, get a grip everyone is sick of listening to your sighs (didn’t know I was doing that), get more rest, hahaha well that didn’t fix anything. but not eating gluten was all it took to start gaining weight and feeling more energetic, and part of the human race again. still get tired but nothing like that zombie trying to rear 3 kids under 5 at the time. never underestimate what food can do to you! 

MD; AP this is a really good thread you should read, and NP 

VR; Every person is an individual obviously – what works for one may not work in the same way for another – there are many variations in the type and cause of illness, as well as our inherited genes and the culture/environment we grew up in. In my experience, eating more nutritious food and gardening/exercise has made a significant improvement in my lifelong struggle against depression. However I also had help from, people who loved me regardless… being able to speak out my struggle to someone else who cared enough to listen, both professional and personal – to know I had been heard and understood helped more than I can express. WE are emotional creatures made for relationship with others, and many people have had their emotions, hopes and dreams stamped on and even destroyed by those who should have been there to help them blossom . We need love and nurture physically, emotionally, spiritually – nutrition is a big part of the healing process but certainly not the only part.  Changing Habits They say if you ask the right question the right answers will come, I must have asked the right question. This is the most informative, discussion I’ve seen on my face book page. Congratulations to all who have contributed, I would love to copy this whole discussion and put it into a pdf for all to read as there are many pearls of wisdom. Thank you to all who have contributed. The discussion is not finished, make sure you share this with your family and friends so that many more people searching for answers have the opportunity to learn by all these experiences. Thank you all. With much love Cyndi O’Meara

PN; I started practicing bikram yoga, it changed my life, maybe even saved it

CV; Good food for me=better mental health, fresh food and veg filled days are always better and happier for me I’m less lethargic less negative and depressed it most definitely is true we are what we eat or shall I say we feel how we eat, crappy diet equals crappy feeling

 

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