By: Sydney Batt
After three months of my diagnosis of having Bipolar II disorder I decided to join a group therapy that was specifically for people that have mood disorders. In the first session of this therapy we learned the importance of nutrition and diet.
I was confused about the relevance of nutrition and why we were taking the time to learn about it instead of sharing about our struggles. I had no idea that the impact nutrition has on people that have Bipolar Disorder and other mood disorders was so vast. The therapist leading the group session started off by explaining the Ketogenic Diet, a diet that consists of eating high protein, under 20-50 carbs, and no sugar. She went on to explain why this diet is beneficial for people that have Bipolar Disorder, the main reason being that the Keto Diet has been shown to help symptoms of epilepsy.
Considering that people who have Bipolar Disorder take medication that is also used to treat epilepsy, it has been shown that the Diet also helps regulate moods. Along with, seizures and mania look similar in the brain, the Ketogenic Diet also helps to decrease symptoms of mania. Learning all of this in my first session of Group Therapy was a lot to take in, however, I was immediately sold on the Ketogenic way of eating– I was also desperate for a way to regulate my moods.
I did some research to see what foods were good and also not good to eat. I slowly eased myself on this diet, trying to avoid the ‘Keto flu’, and after a few days of eating 100% according to the guidelines I felt significantly better about myself. My moods also started to level out more and for the first time in months I finally felt in control of my moods. At first I wasn’t sure if I was feeling better because of the diet or because I had started exercising daily as well.
One day after my routine exercise, I decided to have a bowl of ice cream, which is extremely high in sugar and I instantly got hit with negative emotions. I started feeling poorly about myself along with feelings of sadness. These feelings lasted the rest of the night. After that slip up with the ice cream I realized there was a direct correlation between my eating and my moods.
When I ate on the Ketogenic diet I felt up beat and motivated, without crossing over into mania. When I ate sugary junk food I felt gross, upset with myself, and completely out of control with my mood. When eating foods with high carbs, I would take 3-4 hour naps during the day, resulting with feelings of depression when I would wake up. Even eating extremely sugary foods created feelings of mania.
Once I realized how much of an effect nutrition had on my mental health, I was willing to sacrifice the unhealthy foods for the stabilization of my moods. Eating on the Keto diet helps me feel in control of my moods, it also helps me see warning signs of a possible mood swing, based on something I eat. Nutrition has been a helpful tool in the process of understanding my diagnosis and how to treat it.
****The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of International Bipolar Foundation. Please consult a doctor or licensed nutritionist before starting a diet plan.