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Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, I am not a doctor or therapist, I am just a fellow bipolar sufferer sharing my experiences in the hope they may help you. Please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). At the end of each post, I will be recommending through links the books and other products I personally use to connect with my authentic self.
A Special Post:
This is a special post, please check out the special blog of the week, as it is a guest post from my friend Pamela Gold. Pam is the creator and administrator for the Facebook Group “The Bipolar Experience.” I want to thank Pam for agreeing to do this.
Bashing the Bipolar Diet Hype:
You see it all the time, “this is the perfect diet for bipolar,” “start on the bipolar diet today” or some similar sensationalized statement. I think there is a perfect bipolar diet but not in the way that they are advertising it. I think one diet that helps with everyone’s bipolar disorder as unlikely as one medication that stabilizes all bipolar sufferers. This illness affects each of us so different and we respond to treatments so differently that one way of eating to help with bipolar does not seem logical.
Being Bipolar, Single and Eating:
I was a single man when I started this journey towards mental, physical and spiritual health and I remain single to this day. Yes, I have a girlfriend, but we do not live together and when we are together, I do most of the cooking. The reason I say this at the outset is people say it is hard to cook when you are single and have bipolar. I am proof it is not.
My position is, as with everything that bipolar disorder has touched in our lives, we need help. Eating and nutrition is one area that is not talked about enough to know where to find that help. To provide that help is why dietitians and nutritionists exist. They seem to be the greatest untapped resource in the bipolar battle. Dietitians and nutritionists can help to change your mindset concerning eating and food. Dietitians and nutritionists can teach you the skills you need. But as always you have to do the work.
My Journey With Bipolar Disorder And Eating:
Where we started:
In 2011, I met a lady named Calista Adams, who is a nutritionist. Mainly it is her advice that I going to share with you when it comes to proper eating habits. Before I met Calista, like most bipolar sufferers, I did not have any eating habits. I plain didn’t eat or ate seldom.
I am a five foot ten- and three-quarter inch male in his mid-sixties. When I met Calista, I was 56 and weighed a whopping one hundred and twenty-eight pounds. Ten pounds heavier than I did when I was hospitalized the first time 38 years before. My weight had fluctuated between one eighteen and one fifty-five in the intervening years. I knew I was heading back to the hospital again if I did not fix my nutrition problem.
First, we discussed the issues,
- When I was depressed, I did not have the energy to eat.
- When I was manic, I didn’t have time to eat.
- When I wasn’t depressed or manic, food had no appeal.
Calista listened but didn’t say much except for prodding questions. At the end of our session, she went to her desk and handed me a little note pad with a pencil attached. She asked me to put a mark every time I ate, and we made another appointment in two weeks.
When I returned two weeks later, I had 10 marks in the little book. Calista asked one question after she looked at the marks.
“Were these meals eaten in the morning, mid-day or evening?”
“I usually eat in the evening.” Was my response.
She said, “Ok then, I want you to eat a meal every evening from now until our next appointment and don’t forget to mark it down.”
We made an appointment for two weeks later. I had 14 marks in the book when I showed up.
What Calista Taught Me:
Over the next number of months, Calista taught me:
Meal Prep – for when I didn’t have the energy or inclination to prepare food. Preparing meals ahead and freezing them allows you to just pop things into the microwave. She taught me to make a meal prep day.
Slow Cooker – I bought and still use a slow cooker. Use a slow cooker is easy just throw everything in and turn it on. To get fancy I got a slow cooker recipe book
Grocery List: – “To properly meal prep and use that shiny new slow cooker, you have to have something to prep with and to put in the slow cooker.” Calista said.
She taught me the easiest way to make a grocery list was to plan what you wanted to eat for a week and make the list from the ingredients needed for those meals.
Breakfast – Calista did not approach this as “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” Calista simply pointed out that I had medications that needed to be taken twice a day with food. She suggested instant oatmeal with some fruit and toast. I buy a big bag of frozen fruit and thaw enough for a few days and keep that portion in the fridge. I buy the instant oatmeal packets.
The Canada Food Guide – We talked about the Canada Food Guide. We talked about incorporating fruit and vegetables into my meals. This is what was never discussed – eating healthy. Not once. But as I gained more knowledge, I made healthier choices on my own,
This is the link to the Canada Food Guide, which has been updated in 2019 and therefore is not the one I was introduced to.
Today, I eat two meals a day, a breakfast of instant oatmeal, fruit, and toast, although I change it up sometimes. A supper, that includes meat, starch, and vegetables. If I have lunch it will have some kind of leafy green included. I buy my groceries from a list.
I weigh between one seventy-five and one eighty-five. My weight still fluctuates but remains in a healthy range for my height and build.
Now, I enjoy cooking for myself and others. I also make sure my bipolar girlfriend eats too.
The Truth About Bipolar And Eating:
Calista encouraged me to take baby steps to change my eating habits. She never said it that way but that is what it turned out to be. If we progress a little at a time it is more likely to become part of our lives. It is only our bipolar mind that makes us think we have to progress from not eating to perfection overnight.
Eating has become a habit. It is not so much about what I eat but the fact that I do eat and eat regularly.
That is what eating has to be – a habit. Once it becomes a habit you can fancy it up any way you like. Just make eating a habit first.
I said at the beginning of this post, “I think there is a perfect bipolar diet.” There is, it is a diet you create for yourself, that considers your needs as an individual. But first, you have to make eating a habit.
As we conclude this week’s blog post always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our battle is with our illness not with other people, places, situations or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds and lives.
The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.”
I say,” Work hard on yourself and everything else falls into place like magic.”
Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere.
This is not my slow cooker, as mine is not made anymore, but this is a good one. and inexpensive.
Slow Cooker Recipe Book.
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A VERY SPECIAL BLOG OF THE WEEK:
Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog written by someone else that I found interesting that may inform you as well. This is another author’s work I am just attaching their blog for you. I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Pamela Gold. Pamela Gold utilizes her Bipolar Type II diagnosis to inform and educate others both with and without the illness. She’s a contributor to many online mental health publications and leads a support group on Facebook called The Bipolar Experience. Pamela is married, an all-boy mom, a grand-momma to a vivacious little girl, and lives in Denver, Colorado.
The Bipolar Confessional
I’m tired of being told how strong I am.
Not an ounce of strong resides in this body.
Sometimes, for reasons unknown, I’ll leave the room and have a silent cry.
Is that part of what makes me strong?
The idea that I can have a total meltdown without making a sound?
That I can return to the room and you have no idea how weak I actually am?
If only you could hear the racing thoughts swimming laps in my head.
Constant addition in milligrams and ounces. |medication|
Constant wondering of…How high is that structure? |to jump|
Constant planning of when and where. |suicide|
Strong, continuous constants.
I’m as weak as they come.
I get that sometimes you’re unsure of what to say to me so you turn to building me up.
You don’t realize that sometimes it does a hell of a lot more harm than good.
I say thank you because it’s the right thing to do, but I’m really trying to just move it along. To move you along.
What does strength really have to do with getting through day after day with Bipolar Disorder?
It’s not strength.
I call it powering through.
Everything in my life is a struggle right now.
Telling me how strong I am, makes me feel weaker than ever.
Do you even know what I’m going through?
Do you know what my illness is?
Do you realize I’m going to have this forever?
Bipolar depression isn’t situational.
Bipolar (hypo) mania isn’t fun (for me).
My Bipolar Disorder is medication (I’ve tried over 30), therapy, ECT (10 plus years of my memory has been erased), hospitalizations, suicide attempts, crisis hotlines, not wanting to take care of myself, not wanting to cook or clean or leave the house, severe-everlasting-depression, mania (it isn’t always creativity–sometimes it’s anger), avoiding friends and family, irritability, careless spending, reckless behavior, anxiety (sometimes crippling), zero concentration, and on and on and on.
I know you’re trying.
But I also know, if you tried harder, you’d get it right.
Disclosure: Of course, not everyone with BP experiences the same symptoms, gets the same treatments and/or feels the way I do. This is my perception.