By: Jessica Azar
A lot of people have asked about which dietary changes have had a positive impact on my Bipolar symptoms, and how I discovered them, so I'm going to write a little bit about that. I've always been a big believer in the fact that food is medicine... What we eat directly affects everything about our physical makeup... Which in turn greatly affects our mental state. Several years ago, a friend of mine that suffers from two auto-immune diseases, Lupus and Rheumatoid arthritis suggested that I should try dropping gluten from my diet, just to see if it helped me... She suffered from depression issues like I do, and dropping gluten had made a huge difference in her mental condition. For those of you that aren't familiar, Gluten is in anything containing Wheat, Barley or Rye. Yep. That means no Beer and a lot of liquors! Thankfully Single Malt Scotch, one of my favorite things on Earth, loses the gluten in its distillation process. Safe there! So I set about researching what foods contained gluten, and I was horrified to find that gluten was in... Well... Seemingly everything I enjoyed eating. I've always been a carbivore at heart... Loving French fries, bread, cookies, pasta, cakes etc had been a lifelong relationship for me. Quitting these things cold turkey seemed barbaric and harsh...but once I figured out what I COULD eat, and focused on that instead, I was able to see a glimmer of hope. I stripped gluten from my diet... And soon I started seeing amazing changes in my body. First of all, I dropped five pounds. Boom. Gone. I also noticed that a natural bloat in my lower abdomen that I had always had was no longer there... It was a thing I was so used to that I didn't know it COULD go away. I stopped having the occasional IBS (irritable bowel) episodes that plagued me... My mental state was much clearer (less brain fog) and TA-DA my moods were better! I was more stable... Anxiety wasn't nearly as bad... And I felt more cheerful. It was truly amazing. Then.... A few weeks later, I started slacking off. I started allowing gluten back into my diet, and the old ugly symptoms crept back in. I kind of resigned myself to them and forgot about how great going Gluten Free had made me feel... Until last Summer, June of 2013. In dealing with hideous, debilitating brain fog, depression that kept me on the couch daily, and fatigue that left me without energy to do ANYTHING, I started evaluating any potential tactics that might help me pull myself out of the ditch. I cut out gluten! once again! and all of the amazing changes I had experienced before came back! The diet switch didn't completely rid me of the troubling symptoms, but they were FAR less intense, and much more manageable. Like I've said, treating and managing Bipolar take a combination of strategies.... Not just one thing will fix all of the problems. I also learned the hard way that even a Little gluten is too much for me.... If I decided to have a cupcake at a birthday party, or accidentally are something with gluten in it, I knew I had made a big mistake within about 15 minutes of consuming the offending food. A headache hit me out of the blue... Brain fog started descending... I started feeling sluggish and tired... My body basically would revolt against the allegens from the treat and leave me in a state of "Ill never do this AGAIN!". I've also found that taking a product known as Gluten Cutter when I eat something that might have gluten in it or, if I realize my mistake after eating something that I shouldn't have helps to lessen the symptoms. I don't intentionally eat gluten though with the intention of taking it, though.... It's only for backup. Have any dietary changes helped your mental illness or autoimmune symptoms?! Please share!