Therapy Depression: Food Therapy – Depression? Eat Your Way Out

My two passions in life are rather strange. I am fascinated by motivational psychology and food. Motivational Psychology is really a technical way of talking about how and why we change, and food is food.

Sometimes, when I have attended one too many work conferences I can get into what my teenage son refers to as “your own odd little world.” I begin drifting off and start dreaming about food. Not necessarily what I feel like eating that day, but general thoughts about food; the fresh herb stall in my local market, the taste of fresh tamarind, how to improve a coconut curry sauce, pan roasting lettuce with cracked coriandar seed or ingredients of a chilled avocado summer soup (would adding creamed coconut lift it or destroy it?). All these things tend to run around my mind in an endless loop. They never actually go away but are simply eclipsed by other thoughts, like stars disappearing in sunlight.

I’ve always felt that the power of food has been greatly overlooked by modern day psychology. It was not until fairly recently that the two began to be rather boringly separated. Modern medicine and the understanding of the human condition went one way and food began to go another. Aetieology and the treatment of symptoms has unfortunately disappeared into a world dominated by chemicals and tablets, while food merely became an entertainment or necessity. The Romans would certainly wonder what’s currently going on. If you look through any book about Roman food it is difficult to work out whether it was intended for cooks or doctors. The two disciplines simply being different aspects of the same spectrum.

I propose we re-claim this lost relationship and start eating our way back to health, both physically but more importantly, mentally. So throw away your anti depressant medications and get down to your local food market.

I want you to imagine the scenario. You are feeling depressed. Your marriage has not worked out and your business is rapidly going down the tubes and friends are kindly suggesting that you’re not coping and should see a doctor. So you do. You walk in, tell your story and depart with a course of anti depressants, nothing earth shattering, the usual starting dose of 20mg per day with a review after 2 weeks. It’s all rather clinical, sad, quick and impersonal.

Envisage, if you will my alternative Food Therapy:

Same background… broken relationship, business on the rocks etc… but this time a friend gives you a card saying ‘ Food Therapist.’ You make an appointment, and the following day rather intrigued you pop along. You tell your tale of woe but this time you get a friendly smile, a confident “follow me” and before you know it you’re at my local market. I live in Thailand by the way, so you’ll have to make a leap of the imagination that the written word affords us.

Still slightly uncertain, not to mention profoundly puzzled at being in my local Thai market, you find yourself telling me what kind of food you enjoy. This in itself is helpful, as the pioneering work of Professor Bill Miller will tell you.

We buy armfuls of bright green fresh coriandar, some fiery red chillis, a big knuckle of fresh ginger with the earth and leaves still on it where it was pulled out of the ground this afternoon, a big bunch of garlic, a generous handful of shallots, a couple of fresh coconuts and a big, man size scoop of green lipped mussels harvested in the Gulf Of Thailand. The sights and smells of the market are intoxicating. The smell of the honey marinated grilled pork and the thousands of burning incense sticks at the hundreds of makeshift good luck shrines are particularly heady. The sheer volume of fresh produce is almost unbelievable; mountains of pineapples and golden mangoes, tables full of limes and bright green oranges, fresh Tilapia fish kept cool with huge hunks of ice and tiny perfectly formed fantasy fruit made ingeniously from bean curd and colored in bright red, green and yellow all jostle for room and attention. We can’t decide whether we would prefer crunchy fresh white bread to go with our meal or soft jasmine rice. What the hell, I buy both. Well, I obviously have to stop off at the German Bakery on the way back to the office/ kitchen for the bread to get the real thing, and also pick up a good bottle of wine,something white, dry and as crisp as the bread.

Back at base we have a bit of a chat while we chop the ingredients. We sort a few things out and drink to the future. We stir fry all the ingredients in my huge old iron pan. The chillis make our eyes smart but the tastes are fresh, clean and uplifting. The mussels are plump and juicy and we add them in the shells to the fiercely hot pan. With the intense heat they open very quickly. In a flash everything comes together, and it’s delicious. The flavours have really come out in the cooking. Secretly I’m wondering whether we should have added that Tamarind sauce but that’s just what I am like. As we eat and talk it makes us feel better. No chemicals, no tablets and no Prozac.

Already I’m thinking of next week and session 2. It would certainly be a chance to try that tamarind sauce I keep thinking about.

So next time you feel down, don’t make for the doctors, take a trip down to your local market and eat your way better, try a little bit of Food Therapy. It certainly won’t hurt and may even change your life.



CBT for Depression – Cognitive Behavior Therapy for depression described by Doctor Joel Becker.


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