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Can I Eat My Way Out Of The Baby Blues?

Author: Julina Halim

Having a newborn is a significant change in life, regardless if this is your first. On top of this, you are exhausted from the pregnancy and delivery. Sleep deprivation may be another reason that is challenging your sanity.

It is natural for a new mother to feel down and overwhelmed for a while. However, if the moodiness continues and spirals into a prolonged deep sadness, pain, and even hallucination, affecting how you feel about yourself and your baby, you may have postpartum depression (PPD). PPD is a clinical depression that only a doctor can diagnose, do seek the help you need.

The exact causes of PPD are not fully understood, and the interplay between reproductive hormones (namely estradiol and progesterone) and other systems that are associated with depression are complex.  

There are, however, a few things you can do to help, and your food could be an easy way to start!

Clean Out the Plastics!

We’ve all heard about how excessive use of plastic is terrible for our environment, but it’s damaging for your health, too. 

Plastics contain many “hormone disruptors,” chemicals known to disturb hormones and threaten our health. One of these chemicals is phthalates, commonly found in plastic packaging and personal care products. A very recent study led by Melanie Jacobson from the New York University School of Medicine published in the peer-reviewed journal The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism suggests that phthalates may influence hormone shifts during pregnancy and contribute to PPD. 

While the study is new and there is still a lot to learn about how environmental chemicals may be linked to PPD, the harm that hormone disruptors have on health are well recognized.

It is not easy to completely cut out the use of plastics at home, but try to switch to glass containers and reduce take-aways when you can.

Medical News Today highlighted a study that found people who ate out at restaurants and cafeterias had phthalate levels almost 35% higher than those who ate at home.

Having hearty homemade postpartum meals is not only nutritious but also good for your hormonal balance.

Ditch These Foods

While this may not be PPD specific, many studies have found links between depression and sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, processed food, and trans fat. 

This means cutting down on sweetened beverages, pastries, deep-fried foods, and pre-packed processed foods. 

One observational study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found depression associated with higher sugar and trans fat intake in women with no history of depression. There are also countless studies that support this. 

Build Your Plate with Whole & Clean Foods

The good news is, there are things you can do just by making some changes to your meals. This study sought to answer the question, “if I improve my diet, will my mental health improve?” and found that people with moderate-to-severe depression improved when they received nutrition counseling by a clinical dietician. 

While you may not have access to a dietician, the following can help you get started. 

Foods high in omega-3, B vitamins, Vitamin D, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium are of particular interest in PPD. 

You will need a variety of whole and clean foods from sources free of contamination and hormones. 

Wholegrain, Vegetables, Fruits, Beans, Soy, Lentils.Nuts and Seeds 

Start with small quantities and have whole grains, vegetables, beans/lentils/soy fully cooked for easy digestion.

Meat, Bones, Organ Meat, Poultry, Eggs

Choose organic, free-range, pastured, or hormone-free options. Make sure they are fully cooked.   

Fish & Seafood 

Go for wild, deep-sea sources as much as possible to avoid heavy metal contamination. Have various types in your meal plans and have each type no more than twice a week.    

Ask for Help

You are not alone in this. Many women struggled with this without asking for help, not knowing that their friends and family may have gone through the same. 

Ask for help to buy or prepare food. Ask a trusted person to be with the baby so you can step out into the open for some sunshine. 

It’s okay to take a break and look after you.

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Reference:

PPD depression/uplifting food/diet & depression

Stress & Sleep

Supplement in PPD

Japanese women in England PPD

​​Role of Hormones in PPD

EDC

High GI load and depression in women

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