Post Natal Depression, Nutrition & Supplementation
Eating well when experiencing postnatal depression can be a tough call but it is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your recovery.
Focusing on small, regular meals high in complex carbohydrates, essential fats and protein will prevent blood sugar levels plummeting. When blood sugar levels are unstable and low, depression and anxiety can feel worse, therefore it is really important to try and keep them level.
The word ‘meal’ does tend to make us think hard work in the kitchen but that does not have to be so. Five meals a day does not need to equate five long sessions in the kitchen. Here is a list of foods and meal suggestions. Perhaps ask someone to do the legwork for you, if you don’t feel up to it yourself:
Print off the page, cross off the foods that don’t appeal to you and either order from your supermarket online or ask someone to pop to the shops on your behalf. If friends and family offer to help, do take them up on it. It can be a good idea to treat PND like a physical illness, when you would need that help and support and not feel guilty about it.
Don’t forget to add to this list other things personal to you, maybe some pears, fresh coconut pieces, brown rice, oatcakes, coconut milk, oily fish or lentils.
Pumpkin, Sunflower, Linseeds Seeds • Rye Bread • Wheat Free Pasta • A selection of root vegetables (excluding white potatoes) • Local or Manuka Honey • Rice Cakes • If you are not breast feeding a selection of nuts/nut butters • Tahini •Apples • Organic Cheese • Porridge Oats • Oat Milk • Ready Made Hummus • Avocados • Organic Eggs
Out of these few staples many small meals can be made.
- Half an avocado on rye toast
- A thumb sized piece of cheese with an apple
- Either of the honeys spread thinly on 3 rice cakes with some nut butter or tahini
- Ask another friend to make you a soup with the root veg, garlic, onions, ginger and ingredients you like- add some wheat free pasta each time you heat up a bowl
- Porridge made with oat milk or water and a teaspoon of honey for sweetness, you may like to add some seeds to this
- A jacket sweet potato with hummus
- Wheat free pasta with olive oil and seeds stirred through with organic cheese grated over the top
- Half and avocado with seeds
- Rye bread with honey and organic cheese
- A handful of nuts and seeds or just seeds – putting seeds into a hot frying pan for a few minutes make them very tasty
- A boiled organic egg on rye bread toast
- A baked apple with or without honey and a handful of heated seeds
Each of these meals will take less than five minutes to prepare. The key here is not to buy foods that are ready made as the salt/sugar contents will only contribute to your symptoms and cost you more money. Where you can, try and buy organic. as the cheese and eggs are specified as organic as non-organic animal products contain hormones that can overload your liver conflicting with what is true in your body right now.
Quick fixes of energy found in caffeinated drinks, chocolate and simple carbohydrates come at a price and while you may feel energised in the short term the come down will make you feel worse. If you need to have something sweet add a teaspoon of honey in some hot water.
Food supplements that are beneficial to PND are Omega 3 fish or flaxseed oil, a strong B complex (100mg taken every morning), zinc and magnesium. If you are breast-feeding or expressing there are specific multivitamins on the market that help to boost nutrients for you and your baby. Always check with your GP or pharmacist before taking any supplements, especially if you are breast feeding or taking medication.
When the feel good chemical serotonin is low, it affects low mood and anxiety, so by increasing the level of serotonin will help your recovery. Serotonin cannot be produced in the body without tryptophan, which is contained in the following foods:
- Cottage Cheese
- Mung Beans
- Sunflower Seeds
- Flaxseed Oil
- High Quality Eggs
Other foods that can help your mood are:
Again you can use all these foods to create snacks and small meals in addition to the foods above. They REALLY will help your recovery.
Putting effort into your eating is one of the best things you can do for you and your baby at this time.
Information provided by Jenny Gay, MLC HOM.