Did you know that the food you eat has a direct impact on your mental health? This is especially true for people with OCD. Some foods help cure OCD, and some foods can cause a spike in symptoms. In this blog post, we will discuss the types of diet that can help cure OCD, as well as the foods that may make symptoms worse. We will also give tips on how to start a healthy diet and stick to it!
- 1 Understanding How Diet Helps Cure OCD
- 2 Suggesting Foods For OCD Recovery
- 3 Listing Types of Diets That Help Cure OCD
- 4 Giving Tips To Start a Healthy Diet
- 5 Considering Complementary Treatment Options
- 6 Conclusion
- 7 A Word From Mantra Care
Understanding How Diet Helps Cure OCD
Your diet has a profound effect on your mental health. The foods you eat can either help or hinder your OCD recovery. Because of the way certain nutrients affect brain chemistry, certain dietary changes can help alleviate OCD symptoms.
Although, there is no one-size-fits-all diet for OCD recovery, as each person’s individual nutritional needs will vary. However, some general guidelines may be helpful for those with OCD.
How Eating Well Can Help Your OCD
Eating well can help your OCD in several ways.
- First, healthy eating provides the nutrients your brain needs to function properly.
- Second, certain nutrients have been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood (more on that below).
- Third, eating a healthy diet can help reduce inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation has been linked to anxiety and depression.
- Fourth, healthy eating can help improve sleep quality. Poor sleep is a risk factor for OCD and other mental health disorders.
- Finally, good nutrition boosts your energy levels and helps you feel your best.
Changes In Brain Made By Healthy Diet
A healthy diet can change the structure and function of your brain. Several studies have shown that a healthy diet increases the size of the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
A healthy diet has also been shown to increase levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor), a protein that helps repair and protect brain cells. BDNF is like Miracle-Gro for your brain. It helps your brain grow and change in response to new experiences.
A diet high in unhealthy foods, on the other hand, can shrink the hippocampus and lead to cognitive decline. Unhealthy diets have also been linked to an increased risk of anxiety and depression.
OCD Triggering Protein Found
For some people with OCD, certain foods may trigger symptoms. A protein called casomorphin, found in dairy products, has been shown to increase anxiety and aggravate OCD symptoms. Casomorphin is a breakdown product of the milk protein casein. It binds to opioid receptors in the brain and can have psychoactive effects.
A study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders found that people with OCD who avoided dairy had a significant reduction in symptoms. So, if you think dairy may be triggering your OCD symptoms, it may be worth eliminating it from your diet to see if your symptoms improve.
Suggesting Foods For OCD Recovery
Certain foods may help improve OCD symptoms. While others may make OCD worse.
Foods And Nutrients That May Help Cure OCD
Some certain foods and nutrients are especially important for OCD recovery. Start by adding more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. Moreover, you can get these nutrients from food or supplements.
- Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, which are anti-inflammatory and help improve mood.
- Green Tea: Green tea is high in antioxidants and has been shown to improve brain function.
- Zinc: Zinc is a mineral that helps boost the immune system and has been shown to reduce anxiety. It can be found in oysters, beef, and chickpeas.
- Omega-three Fatty Acids: Found in fish, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Omega-three fatty acids are anti-inflammatory and have been shown to reduce anxiety.
- Probiotics: Probiotics are live bacteria that are found in yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi. They help improve gut health and have been shown to reduce anxiety.
- Magnesium: Magnesium is a mineral that has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality. It can be found in dark chocolate, pumpkin seeds, and spinach.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D is a nutrient that is essential for brain health. It can be found in fatty fish, eggs, and mushrooms. Also, spend time in the sun or take a supplement if you don’t get enough from food.
Foods That Could Make OCD Worse
Certain foods could make OCD symptoms worse. So it’s also important to be aware of food allergies and sensitivities. For some people, certain foods can worsen anxiety and trigger compulsions.
- Caffeine: Caffeine is a stimulant and can increase anxiety levels.
- Alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and can make OCD symptoms worse.
- Sugar: Sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, which can lead to mood swings and irritability.
- Processed Foods: Processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats. They can worsen anxiety and depression.
OCD And Blood Sugar Levels
It’s also important to pay attention to your blood sugar levels if you have OCD. Blood sugar swings can cause anxiety and irritability. To stabilize blood sugar levels, eat regular meals and snacks every few hours. At the same time, avoid sugary foods, caffeine, alcohol, and processed foods. These can all lead to blood sugar swings and make OCD symptoms worse.
NOTE: If you think your diet may be affecting your OCD, talk to a doctor or nutritionist. They can help you figure out if you have any food allergies or sensitivities. They can also offer guidance on how to change your diet to support your OCD recovery.
Listing Types of Diets That Help Cure OCD
So what kind of diet should you eat to improve your mental health?
Several types of diets are helpful for mental health:
- Mediterranean diet: This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, and healthy fats.
- Vegetarian diet: This diet is plant-based and includes vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Pescatarian diet: This diet is similar to the Mediterranean diet but also includes fish.
- Ketogenic diet: This high-fat, low-carb diet has been shown to improve mental clarity and boost energy levels.
- DASH diet: This diet is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy. It has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Giving Tips To Start a Healthy Diet
Eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for your mental health. However, initially, you may face some resistance as you change your diet.
Tips To Start a Healthy Diet
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Start by making small changes. If overhauling your diet feels overwhelming, start with small changes. For example, try adding one new healthy food to your diet each week.
- Gradually phase out unhealthy foods. Once you’ve added some healthy foods to your diet, you can start phasing out the unhealthy ones. Again, take it one step at a time.
- Find healthy foods that you enjoy eating. It’s important to find healthy foods that you like eating. Otherwise, you’re likely to slip back into old habits.
- Seek support from family and friends. Changing your diet can be tough, especially if you’re doing it on your own. Seek support from loved ones to help you stick to your new healthy eating plan.
Tips Not To Get Obsessive
Of course, when you have OCD, it’s important to be mindful of not getting too obsessive about your diet. The goal is to develop a healthy relationship with food, not to become obsessed with what you eat. So, allow yourself some flexibility, and don’t beat yourself up if you slip up. You may slip up from time to time and that’s OK. Just get back on track as soon as you can. Last but not least, remember that you don’t need to be perfect!
Here are a few tips to help you avoid getting obsessive:
- Don’t label foods as “good” or “bad.” This can lead to unhealthy relationships with food. So, focus on eating a variety of healthy foods, rather than eliminating all “bad” foods from your diet.
- Don’t get too restrictive with your diet. Remember, you should be able to enjoy the occasional treat without feeling guilty. As too much fixation on food can lead to unhealthy habits. Such as binge eating, purging, or orthorexia (an obsession with healthy eating).
- And lastly, focus on developing a healthy relationship with food. This means listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry. It also means making peace with the fact that you can’t control everything. So, try not to worry too much about what you can and can’t eat.
NOTE: If you’re struggling to stick to a healthy diet, talk to a doctor or nutritionist. They can help you come up with a plan that works for you.
Considering Complementary Treatment Options
In addition to changing your diet, there are other things you can do to support your OCD recovery. Because everyone is different, you may need to try a few different things to see what works for you. Moreover, some people find that a combination of treatments is most effective.
Therapies To Cure OCD
Several talk therapies may help you reduce symptoms of OCD. Some of the most effective ones are:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective treatment for OCD. As it can help you understand and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to your OCD. This way CBT helps you learn to cope with your OCD symptoms and healthily manage them.
- Exposure and response prevention (ERP), can also be helpful. ERP involves gradually exposing yourself to your fears and learning to resist the urge to perform compulsions. Thus, it helps you manage your anxiety healthily and reduces your OCD symptoms.
Medications To Cure OCD
There are several types of medications that can be used to treat OCD.
- Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs help balance the levels of serotonin in your brain and can reduce OCD symptoms.
- Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, can also be used to treat OCD. However, these medications are typically only used for short-term relief.
- Antipsychotics, such as risperidone, are sometimes used to treat OCD as well. However, these medications can have serious side effects and are typically only used as a last resort.
NOTE: Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting any new medications. As with any treatment, there are risks and benefits to consider.
Lifestyle Changes To Cure OCD
In addition to therapy and medication, there are other lifestyle changes you can make to support your OCD recovery.
- Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood. It can also help with other mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression.
- Getting enough sleep is also important. Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep every night. Since poor sleep can worsen OCD symptoms, this is an important step in managing your disorder.
- Relaxation techniques, such as yoga and meditation, can also help you reduce stress and anxiety. They can also improve your sleep quality, thereby, helping you manage OCD Symptoms.
- Mindfulness meditation is another effective stress-reduction technique. Meditation can help you focus on the present moment and let go of intrusive thoughts.
- Finally, make sure you’re taking care of yourself emotionally. This means healthily dealing with stress and having a supportive social network.
If you have OCD, changing your diet may be a helpful part of your treatment plan. Certain nutrients have been linked to improved mental health, and some foods may make OCD worse. Talk to a doctor or nutritionist to figure out if your diet is affecting your OCD. They can offer guidance on how to change your diet to support your OCD recovery.
However, eating a healthy diet is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to managing OCD. But it’s an important piece. If you’re struggling with OCD, talk to your doctor or mental health professional about other treatment options, such as therapy and medication. And remember, you’re not alone. There are millions of people out there who understand what you’re going through and want to help.
A Word From Mantra Care
Your mental health — your psychological, emotional, and social well-being — has an impact on every aspect of your life. Positive mental health essentially allows you to effectively deal with life’s everyday challenges.
At Mantra Care, we have a team of therapists who provide affordable online therapy to assist you with issues such as depression, anxiety, stress, relationship, OCD, LGBTQ, and PTSD. You can take our mental health test. You can also book a free therapy or download our free Android or iOS app.