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December


Winter Comfort. Wednesday December 14, 2016

It was Paul Young in 1978 who sang about toast. This was long before he laid his hat anywhere or lived in the love of the common people. I don't know if he has ever suffered with depression, but he certainly knows about the value of comfort food.

We all know about healthy eating, don't we? We know we should eat lots of green vegetables, low fat protein, nuts, seeds and fruit. We know about limiting our sugar intake and that our carbohydrates should be slow releasing; oats and potatoes, not white bread and pasta.

But oh, when we are down, when our energy levels are low, toast is so simple, so easy. The scent of it entices. That crunchy outside and warm chewy centre, that unctuous drip of butter and sweet embrace of strawberry jam envelops our taste buds and makes everything better; even if only for moment.

My own particular favourite is a toasted bagel, spread with crunchy peanut butter and thick cut oxford marmalade. It's something I rarely eat when I am well.

I don't know about you, but when I am down, my taste buds actively reject all the food that is supposed to be good for me. Even reading how a diet rich in Omega 3 oils and leafy green vegetables is good for depression cannot overturn the slow stomach roll that accompanies the thought of mackerel and spinach. Swapping that image for pan fried salmon with pak choi, or crispy grilled sardines on a bed of balsamic roasted Mediterranean vegetables, doesn't help: I only want toast.

Or rice pudding, if someone else makes it for me.

It has to be sweet and bland and easy to eat. It has to be comfort food.

Books too, have to be comfort books; books I have read so often I almost know every word.

And people. Please don't make me meet anyone new! Please don't let me have to deal with the difficult people I already know. During this time my husband, son and eldest daughter are primed to shield me from difficult family members.

And yes, there is a price to pay. During this time of depression, I put on weight. Because I do not have enough energy to swim or walk further than 100 metres, my fitness levels decline. Relationships suffer for lack of attention. Inevitably, my business income plummets.

There is hope. The darkness is beginning to grey around the edges. Dawn is coming. I know from past episodes that this suffocating oppression will lift as suddenly as it descends. Once more my mouth will water at the thought of stuffed seabass and trout, crisp from the pan. I will desire the whole orange, not just the marmalade and toasted bagels will once more be a Sunday morning treat instead of a staple food.

Health, and all that means, will return. It can't come soon enough.

Mary
A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.


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Comments

Katie Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 3:04am

this has nothing to do the the blog post above, but i need to talk i dont know where else to post. i am sitting at home all alone knowing i have pushed my last friendship away for being to needy. i have done this before and oh how i wish i didnt. i though i was doing so well. i can even recite what the emails say i have recieved them so many times. " it isnt anything between us life has just changed, im taking on more work/have less time. and cant give you what you need as a friend. i wish i could be there for you how you need but i just cant.

why am i caught in this revoling down of growth, imporvement, making freinds. growning more, then getting sick (depression with generalised anxiety) and everyone runs for the hills and im left in this hole again. lost and hurting. i wish they would say it was all my fault cause i am anyway.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 7:38am

Katie This sounds like a horrible situation for you. It isn't your fault or your friends' it is your illness. It sounds to me though, that perhaps you could do with seeing a counselor both so that you have someone to talk to right now and so that you can get support from them so that you don't have to ask so much of your friends. Hopefully it will also help break or lessen your cycle of illness. You can get counseling through your GP but there can be long waiting lists. Better to find someone private if you can afford it. And as we have all said in recent blogs and comments you sometimes need to shop around a bit to find someone you relate well to. Love and hugs TF xoxo

Eva Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 7:43am

Hi Katie, sorry to hear you are in a rough place, have you tried opening up to any of your friends about your anxiety? It may be that some of them have similar experiences and you could share resources? It might be a good time to get some help, have you been to see your doctor? I used a book by the human givens system on anxiety to help me get over panic attacks. Also I use mindfulness meditation which has been life changing for me, wishing you the best.

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:35am

Katie love, this is exactly the right place to post. We hate ourselves for being needy but it's so lonely out here in the dark lands of depression with all those nebulous but scary monsters of anxiety prowling around. I will echo what the others have said above, but you are always welcome to post here and be sure of a sympathetic (if virtual) hug from folks like us who do understand.

Leah Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:10am

Katie I am glad you posted and shared your worries with us.This is a safe place and ypou are always welcome to comment. Take care .

Katie Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:53am

thank you all so much for the kids words. just knowing im not alone makes me feel like i can make it till tomorrow. i have a call into a counselor that i am hoping to see. not as easy in new zealand.

Michael Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 11:07am

Katie, this sort of issue is really the bread and butter of therapy. As my therapist puts it "it is two minds coming together to look at a problem". Personally I realise I have many "blindspots" which are barn door obvious to literally everyone but myself.

Michael Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 11:11am

Also the way the depression manifests will different for each individual. It will go for our Achilles Heal. So for you it is manifesting as neediness, this is no worse or better than the countless other ways it can manifest i.e. hypersensitivity, paranoia, feeling angry with everyone or the world or God etc etc

Eva Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 7:38am

Hi Mary, I know what you mean! I long for chocolate and baked goods. However in the main I have fussy eating habits, in fact habitual and generally prescriptive describes my eating habits, once I find something I like I eat it until I can't face it and then I have to find an alternative. In the last few years I have found a breakfast and lunch that combines a lot if my 5 a day with good protein, carbs, fats and fibre, and I eat that about 5 days a week. It's habitual so even when I'm down I can do it. I feel that it's OK then to eat whatever else with my husband at night or over the weekend, and I try to limit pudding to weekends... Its not perfect but it works for me. In a down more pudding creeps in, plus pretzels and croissant...

Sally Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 7:46am

Perfectly put, Mary. I can identify with all this so much. The weight gain is inevitable seeing that what I crave is calorific, but it is soooo annoying. Clothes are tight, muscles overstretched, fat settles Michelin-man- style across my stomach... as if the low mood were not enough to contend with!
Beautiful choice of words, Mary.
Good luck and wishing that return to health comes fast.

Tutti Frutti Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:03am

Mary
You are so right about the allure of toast when ill. I am recovering from flu at the moment and ate four slices of buttered toast for dinner the other day both because it's comforting and because it was the only thing I could face making. And that's despite being on a diet and knowing that toast is not a great idea. I am much the same when depressed. I think a big factor for me is not being able to bear to do anything much by way of cooking or shopping. I might eat better at those times if someone cooked for me but my husband isn't exactly in his element with cooking so I have to be really quite ill before he gets going. Even then I think I would be far more likely to eat stuff like shepherd's pie and spaghetti than kale or (heaven forbid) oily fish. I don't really like fish at all and though I do brace myself to eat some occasionally it certainly isn't something that I manage when I am ill. Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:09am

I also comfort eat chocolate when I am going through emotional ups and downs. I had a bit of a rough patch in the autumn which is why I had put half a stone back on and have had to diet again in order to be able to handle Christmas! Bit of a bummer all round! Love TF x

Tutti Frutti Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:11am

And wishing you the best for your recovery Mary. Love TF x

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:39am

Thank you TF. Yes, Tom buys me chocolate when I am down, bless him!

Jul Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:30am

My husband is working abroad at the moment which means I can eat what and when I like so the last two nights I have had toast, butter and jam plus yogurt and granola. I felt guilty this morning so got some sea bass out of the freezer and looked at the unopened packet of Kale in the fridge so my plan is that's what I'll eat this evening. I am not 100% certain I will stick to my plan though. Julxx

Mary Wednesday Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:37am

Have you tried frying the kale with bacon lard ons and pine nuts? Very yummy! (But not toast) ;)

Leah Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:06am

FY1 Jul and all, Kale was a just an incredible promotion by kale farmers. Kale is not a super food ans is no better for you that spinach or silverbeet. So ban kale , ban guilt and live!!

Jul Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:40am

Not sure about the lardons personally but for those who like lardons, it really sounds yummy Mary. Pine nuts and olive oil maybe or is that just too healthy Lol!? Julxx

Jul Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:41am

Leah. I have no doubt you are right about this. julxxx

The Gardener Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 10:01am

Katie - really feel for you - inside, longing for friendship - but the terrible destructive tendency which comes with depression causes us to alienate those we need most - I met it so often at Samaritans - and, often there was not going back. If there is anyone you can approach - go and cry on their shoulder. My husband has hit a new low, I was pretty desperate last night - but, this morning, I'm lucky, market outside - so smiles, hugs, and kisses - I am 'nourished' (a favourite Joyce Grenfell word) in the knowledge that I do not have to suffer the personal miseries alone. And there are a few kindred souls here - so, you've now got Moodscope - use it - I know from personal experience that that are sympathetic to all suffering and moaning. Mary, food, don't start me! I could write a book on what is going on outside - you can get a huge 'naughty' slice of 'Tropezienne' (maximum calories and gooyness) to every imaginable vegetable. One stands makes, on site, couscous, paella and a cheezy/potato mixture. Another roasts chickens 'sur place' smell round market - with chips to die for - and fried onions. Three stands of crepes and saucisses galettes. Any more? I went for croissant amand/chocolate this a.m

Mary Wednesday Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 2:02am

Oh, my mouth is watering at your words....

Michael Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 11:26am

Mary, you nailed it. The frustrating paradox of mood disorder. I know when I am having a good day because I want to cook "healthy" food. I feel a craving for smoothies full of apples, ginger root, lemon etc.
One way I have tricked the mind is by stocking relatively healthy "binge" foods and ingredients (when I am well). Then I can have guilt free treats i.e. xylitol (instead of sugar) and raw organic honey (apparently it doesn't spike the blood sugar). The reason we crave chocolate is partly due to it containing anandamide (hindu for bliss) a type of feel good neurotransmitter, plus loads of magnesium (good for calming the nerves and irritability). So I have a stock of raw chocolate or at least 70% dark choc. I will make a desert (or even the main meal if I am very low) cooking some bananas (full of potassium) in coconut butter with a sprinkling of vanilla powder and cinnamon (balances blood sugar) , then I grate in some 100% chocolate and sweeten it with raw honey and sprinkle on some flaked almonds or walnuts. This stops me feeling guilty and in fact is potentially positively impacting my mood and it is really delicious and pretty easy to make up in a non stick pan. But then there are those dark dark times when I can't even do that!

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 11:33am

Michael, that really does sound delicious and great to get some info on how the ingredients effect us. Caroline

Mary Wednesday Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 1:59am

I might try that one Michael!

Keval Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 2:19pm

Mary. Spot on. Thank you.

Another Sally Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 2:22pm

Hello everyone, Katie first - do keep writing and reading the comments. I feel I have come to know the people who comment the most and they are a very caring group.
As for comfort food, well I have a bit of an advantage. I was recommended to avoid gluten and cut right back on carbs, though I can have plenty of fats. (This is due to a gut/brain connection where gluten contributes to my depression) So toast does not come into it much, gluten free is just not the same.
On this regime I have lost a fair bit of weight. However, when I do want comfort food it is harder to think of what I can safely eat. Peanut butter from a spoon is a favourite.
I do like the sound of Michael's banana recipe though.
TG, I wold have a problem if I lived in France though, French bread and croissants are too delicious.
Wishing everyone all the best.
Another Sally x

Lexi Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 2:39pm

Buttered toast. I want some now. Definitely my comfort food. The more carbs the better. The other day I made mac n cheese (from a box) and threw in a can of tuna and steamed broccoli. That made it healthy, right? I know that I feel better when I eat better and exercise, but it's five degrees in Chicago and my bCk is out, so I''m giving in today. :)

Rebecca Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 8:30pm

Mary your comfort foods sound nowhere near as bad as mine. I crave chocolate, cakes anything sweet. I struggle with this craving all the time, but am lucky I don't put on weight easily. I know it isn't good for me mentally but the habit is so difficult to break, just not interested in healthy food. Glad you feeling better.x

the room above the garage Wed, Dec 14th 2016 @ 9:50pm

"Dawn is coming"...and you will cherish it. I hope it comes quickly Mary and stays, much love ratg x.

Lacey Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 5:53am

Katie
Keep strong and stay in touch.What you have said is just what happens to me when I fall into 'my hole'...
I've climbed out just in time for Christmas and my belated honeymoon.Dubai and Singapore for 10 nights and all I want for Christmas is to be warm and relaxed ad spoiled which I will be.
Please don't despair this blog is safe and very supprtive;you are amongst friends even though you are in NZ
Welcome :-}

Lacey Thu, Dec 15th 2016 @ 6:10am

Hi Mary
Get what you are saying,feeling etc.thats me to a 'T' when I'm depressed.
I've spent the last four months eating muesli for breakfast,avocado and cream cheese with cherry tomatoes and two cheese oat cakes with cracked pepper and Himalayan salt for lunch and a smoked mackarel fillet with cherry tomatoes again with three cheese oatcakes at dinner.
Then an apple in full fat goats yoghurt for dessert.
No cooking involved and shopping I just repeat as I can't think what to get anyway.
Now I'm better I'm still sticking to this plan.
Everyone,from my GP to my friends and family, say how fantastic I look and what am I doing to make such a change.
The compliments are such a boost for me after spending four months in hibernation and having no confidence.I have,as they say, turned the corner and you,my friend, will turn your corner too.
Just breathe and be patient.
Hope I've helped with my scribblings
I've decided to start writing in January...a novel,a funny one about my best friend and Dachshund Lacey.
A project is what I need and a purpose

Merry Christmas Mary

Karen Sat, Dec 17th 2016 @ 11:01am

Thank you so much for this blog post. It's me to a "tea" to go with the toast ????

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