How Important is a Healthy Diet for People with Borderline Personality Disorder?
The food choices you make affect your body, and can also affect your mood and your mental health. While changing your diet won’t cure borderline personality disorder (BPD) or other forms of mental illness, research had shown that there is a link between diet and mental health.
In particular, diets that are frequently high in sugar and processed foods can intensify symptoms of depression and anxiety. Foods in this category include: soft drinks, fast foods, cookies and candy. Too much sugar not only can increase the risk of conditions such as diabetes and obesity, but it can also can worsen mental health challenges.
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Over-Consumption of Sugar and Mental Health
Consumption of too much sugar can set off a rollercoaster sensation in which sometimes you feel a lift when you first consume sugary foods or drinks, but you inevitably crash. The upbeat feeling you experience when you eat something sweet can set off a craving similar to addiction. You may be compelled to eat more and more foods that contain a lot of sugar, but these foods can intensify emotions such as sadness, anger or anxiousness.
If you have BPD, the highs and lows associated with eating too much sugar can affect both mood and energy level. Bringing symptoms of BPD under control requires working toward regulating your emotions. In order to do this, it’s important to be mindful of how sugary foods, or any other kind of food, affect your moods.
The Importance of Healthy Nutrients
Another problem with consuming a lot of junk food or fast food is that it makes it less likely you’ll reach for healthier foods. For the body and mind to be as healthy as possible, your diet needs to be healthy and balanced. Foods that need to be included in your diet are:
- Whole grains and cereals
- Lean proteins such as lean meats, seafood, nuts and legumes
- Fruits and vegetables
- Low-fat dairy products
- Unsaturated fats such as olive oil
If your body is regularly deprived of essential nutrients, it may be harder for you to think clearly or keep mood swings under control. Omega-3 fatty acids are an example of nutrients that have anti-inflammatory properties and also have an impact on dopamine and serotonin transmission.
Research comparing the typical American diet with “traditional” diets such as the Mediterranean diet have concluded that a traditional diet decreases the risk for depression by as much as 25 to 35 percent. Traditional diets are high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains and fish. Following this type of diet may help to improve both your mood and your energy level.
Learning to Choose a Healthier Diet
When you have BPD, your diet should include foods that are whole and natural whenever possible, rather than highly processed. Write down what you eat each day along with how you felt. Consider cutting out all processed food and sugar for a few weeks and observe your energy level and your emotions. Avoid misusing alcohol or caffeine, as these also can intensify mood instability.
BPD sometimes includes symptoms of self-harm or substance abuse. Since food does have an impact on moods, it’s important to incorporate mindfulness into your eating. Pay attention to whether you’re eating because you’re hungry or because you’re using food as a method of self-soothing.
While healthy diet choices won’t completely make symptoms of BPD go away, they can help to improve some of your symptoms and can also improve your energy level. Eating regular nutritious meals is a form of healthy self-care that may help to reduce emotional ups and downs and help to improve your quality of life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with borderline personality disorder or another mental health disorder, please contact us at (855) 409-0204 or submit the form below and a treatment specialist will contact you.
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Since 2004, Lori has worked with the behavioral health treatment community to bring awareness about mental health disorders and evidence-based treatments. Lori strives to help people better understand mental illness and provide support to those needing help and their families. As a mental health advocate, Lori works to be a voice for those suffering from borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety, trauma, or any other disorder.