I am often asked what kind of food I would recommend for eating disorders sufferers that can help them to develop new neuronal pathways in order to stop their eating disorders. Of course my first suggestion would be to eat a balanced meal but I do have certain foods I can recommend to make brain changes easier. Here is my list:
1. Omega- 3 acid products: Omega -3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids but it cannot be manufactured by the body. For this reason omega-3 acids must be obtain from food. It helps to keep your heart in good shape, blood vessels and most importantly your brain. It as been proven by scientific experiments that omega-3 acids improve learning processes and makes your brain work clearer. Deficiency of Omega- 3 causes tiredness, lethargy, poor concentration and memory: plus a constant feeling of stress and anxiety. This is especially important to know for anorexics and bulimics because their body is normally lacking omega-3. And this contributes to even more mental and perception problems.
The list of food which contains lots of omega-3 (it is also considered the healthiest foods in the world) :
– Oily fish: salmon, tuna, halibut, herring, mackerel and others
– Nut oils: canola, flaxseed, walnut
– Winter squash
Important to Note: Research shows that Omega-3 acid is absorbed much better from food than from supplements. Norwegian researches did a study on 72 volunteers in four different groups of people. The first group were given Omega-3 in the form of supplements, the 2nd group ate salmon, the 3rd group cod liver oil and the 4th group just cod fish. The result was that the absorption of Omega-3 was the best in people who ate salmon and the worst in those who took regular supplements.
In my opinion, Omega-3 foods must be eaten by people who suffer from eating disorders if they want to get better.
2. Blueberries. You probably would be surprise how good for your brain they are. Researchers found that eating blueberries daily not only helps to improve your brain function but also helps to reverse the damage which has been done by diseases, age or trauma. What a great snack for eating disorders sufferers who want to be cured!!!
Blueberries are a major source of flavonoids, in particular anthocyanins and flavanols. Although the precise mechanisms by which these plant-derived molecules affect the brain are unknown, they have been shown to cross the blood brain barrier after dietary intake. It is believed that they exert their effects on learning and memory by enhancing existing neuronal connections, improving cellular communications and stimulating neuronal regeneration.
3. Vegetables. Cruciferous and green leafy vegetables including cauliflower, spinach, kale, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprout and collards appear to be the most beneficial. It could be because they contain a lot of Vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps to fight chemicals that damage the cells. Lots of other vitamins can be found in vegetables including B group of vitamins which are important for stress management and improving mental processes.
4. Wine consumption but you must be very careful. For people with anorexia careful drinking of good wine could be beneficial for three reasons: it provides calorie intake, relaxation and lots of antioxidants. Wine stimulates appetite directly through its physiological effect on the inner mouth lining. Laboratory studies have shown that wine contains special chemicals that have specific appetite-stimulating action. In general, small amounts of wine just before and during meal time stimulate the appetite by physiological and psychological means. However, consumption of large quantities of wine especially over prolonged periods before meals may depress the appetite and promote drinking rather than eating.
Appetite stimulation and relaxation can help some eating disorder sufferers to gain weight and improve their condition overall but you always have to watch not to drink too much and not to became an alcohol dependent. For the eating disorder sufferer it is easier to become alcohol dependent than for people who don’t have eating disorders. The rule is: just one glass of wine with a dinner is GREAT and really beneficial to restore your weight – but more than that can be really problematic.
5. Eggs. Eggs are great source of proteins and vitamins which are lacking in other foods. Just the fact that one egg contains 6 grams of high-quality protein and all 9 essential amino acids speak for itself. Eggs are also one of the only foods that contain naturally occurring vitamin D.
Eggs are a good source of choline. One egg yolk has about 300 micrograms of choline. Choline is an important nutrient that helps regulate the brain, nervous system, and cardiovascular system.
Eggs also promote healthy hair and nails because of their high sulphur content and wide array of vitamins and minerals. Many people find their hair growing faster after adding eggs to their diet, especially if they were previously deficient in foods containing sulphur or B12. The study also showed that daily consumption of eggs reduces the risk of breast cancer by 44%.
6.Turkey. Turkey meat contains a lot of an amino acid called L-tryptophan. Amino acids are the “building blocks” for the proteins that make up our muscles and body organs including brain. (L-tryptophan is just one kind of amino acid – there are many different kinds of amino acids in the foods we eat.)
When we eat foods that contain L-tryptophan, this amino acid travels in the blood from the digestive system and later enters the brain. The brain then changes the L-tryptophan into another chemical called serotonin (remember the serotonin – neurotransmitter- that plays important role in eating disorders and your moods). Serotonin calms us down, helps us sleep, and makes us feel good and satisfied with ourselves.
But scientists now know that L-tryptophan can really only make a person tired right away if it is eaten or taken by itself without any amino acids. And the protein in turkey contains lots of other amino acids! So, eating turkey may help you to feel good and eventually stop your eating disorder.
7. Chocolate. A University of Nottingham expert has found that eating chocolate could help to sharpen up the mind and give a short-term boost to cognitive skills. It was found that cocoa (which chocolate made of) boosts blood flow to key areas of the brain for two to three hours. Increased blood flow to these areas of the brain may help to increase performance in specific tasks and boost general alertness over a short period. For eating disorder sufferers it is important to eat chocolate especially in the periods of studies, exams or acute stress.
8. Avocado – Its monounsaturated fat speeds up the basal metabolic rate, as compared with saturated fat. Its high fat content gives a quicker feeling of satiation (“fullness”), thus helping to reduce overeating. Its high fat content makes an overall sound diet more palatable, reducing the temptation to binge on foods high in sugars or saturated fats. Its rich supply of vitamins and minerals also makes the diet more wholesome and satisfying and thus more conducive to overall health and to moderation in consumption.
9. Tea – Drinking at least two daily cups of green tea was tied to the lowest risk of cognitive impairment. Cognitive function includes memory, attention, language, and visual ability. In this study, physical, social and productive activities of all participants were taken into account, as well as daily tea consumption. Higher tea consumption not only improved these functions and abilities but also resulted in a lower prevalence of depression. Further, it was found that those who drank more tea tended to enjoy higher levels of exercise and social relations.
These are the foods you should be eating if you are an eating disorder sufferer. But: let me make this very clear. It does not mean that the bulimic can binge out on these foods and then purge it all up. It does not mean the anorexic can have a tiny nibble of these foods and think they are doing well. What it means is a balanced meal of normal proportions, no bigger or smaller than a serving you would get at a good restaurant. All things in moderation are the key.