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Nutrition and Mood

Nutrition and Mood

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Healthy Body, Happy Heart


As a therapist and life coach, over the years I have gained a healthy respect for the limits of traditional talk therapy. The truth is that we’re complex, and many things factor in to how you feel day-to-day. Simply “working through the past” or gaining insight into your self (while fantastic) is not usually enough to actually change how you feel. Certainly, our thoughts impact our feelings, as do our life circumstances. When you make positive changes in either of those areas, you’re likely to feel better.

However, something that many therapists and life coaches (and physicians, and psychologists for that matter) miss is the dramatic interplay between physical and emotional wellness. The mind / body connection is not new-age hocus-pocus; it’s a fact. What is happening in your body impacts the way you think and feel. Likewise, the way you think and feel impacts your health. (I could bore you with a detailed explanation of the fight-or-flight stress response and it’s impact on cognition, immunity, sleep cycles and more, but I’m going to restrain myself today). Winning!

Nutrition and Mood

One big piece of the mind / body connection that has been largely overlooked in the past by the mental health community is the relationship between your nutrition and your mental and emotional wellbeing. Being deficient in certain vitamins and nutrients can have a significant impact on the way you feel, and according to recent research, by treating these deficiencies many “mental health” symptoms can be relieved. [More: Natural Remedies for Depression]

This is big news, particularly because it is very easy to become nutritionally malnourished in America these days. Much of the standard, processed American fare that is consumed by most of us regularly (pastas, sodas, fast foods, chemical sweeteners, pretty much anything bread-based or with potatoes in it) has little to no nutritional value.

Even conventional fruits and vegetables, if they’re grown on overworked depleted soil supplemented with sub-par chemical fertilizers can be nutritionally depleted and therefore have less nutritional value for you than you might think. It’s easy as pie (eating pie, that is) to become deficient in important vitamins and minerals, which can lead to a multitude of health problems as well as create feelings of anxiety and depression. Strategic incorporation of foods high in vitamins and minerals, and/or vitamin supplements may be extremely helpful in lifting your mood or calming a worried mind.

I’ll go over a few vitamins and minerals that have been found to be linked with mood, for your information. My big disclaimer here is that I am not a nutritionist or dietician and can’t offer any specific advice on supplements that you should or should not be taking given your unique health situation. If you think that you may be deficient and would like to get on a good nutritional plan I would recommend sitting down with a registered dietician or a naturopathic doctor.

Nutrients That Are Known To Impact Mood

Iron and Depression

  • If you’ve ever been anemic I don’t need to tell you that if you’re deficient in iron you feel awful. Tired, lethargic, inability to concentrate, loss of interest in activities you once found pleasurable…. Sounds familiar? Sounds like something from an anti-depressant commercial, doesn’t it? The effect of not having enough iron is similar to that of depression, particularly in the physical experience of depression (tired, withdrawn) but also in the experience of isolation, loss of pleasure, loss of energy, and overall depressed mood. Anemia (iron deficiency) is associated with higher levels of depression. It’s not unheard of for someone’s chronic “depression” to finally lift when their nutritional deficiencies are addressed appropriately.
    • Fun facts about iron: Iron is more absorbable from natural food sources than it is from supplements, so it’s best to get it from dietary sources if you can. It’s also more absorbable when taken with vitamin C. There is lots of iron in red meat, but if you avoid red meat or are a vegetarian and not conscientiously eating other sources of iron like spinach and broccoli, you can easily become deficient in this mineral. Iron supplements can be very helpful, however you can also take too much iron, so a safe bet would be to find a high quality multivitamin with iron in it.
    • For more info on depression, check out: Is it Depression?

Magnesium and Anxiety

  • I recently found out something fascinating about magnesium. It’s actually often given to people in hospital emergency rooms because deficiency in this mineral is so widespread, and deficits are associated with serious health problems like muscle cramps, heart spasms, high blood pressure, abnormal heart beats, and even seizures—as well as intense anxiety. Speaking generally, high amounts of magnesium are associated with relaxation, calm and “looseness” whereas low amounts of magnesium are associated with irritability, anxiety, and tenseness, both physically and mentally.
    • Fun facts about magnesium and mood: You can take magnesium as a supplement (but do your research, as some variants are more absorbable than others) but anther good way to get magnesium in your system in through Epsom Salt (Magnesium Sulfate) in your bath. If you want to go the dietary route, add dark leafy greens and beans to your diet.

B Vitamins, Depression, Anxiety and Energy Levels

  • These important vitamins play a role in the formation of neurotransmitters, the brain chemicals that mediate interactions between neurons and other structures in your brain. When your neurotransmitters are depleted, or not in balance people frequently experience a disturbance in their mood as well as in their overall energy. Antidepressant medications work by increasing the amount of available neurotransmitters you have via various mechanisms. It’s been found that people deficient in B vitamins often have symptoms of depression as well. There are a number of important B Vitamins but the major players associated with depression are Thiamin, Folate, B-6, and B-12.
    • Fun facts about B Vitamins: Foods with the most B Vitamins tend to be animal products like fish, red meat, eggs, and dairy. Unless they are very conscientious about getting enough of these vitamins from other sources (whole grains, nuts and seeds) Vegans may be at risk of becoming deficient, especially in B12. However there are plant based B12 supplements.

Vitamin D, Depression and Illness

  • Having low levels of vitamin D has been associated with depression, fertility issues, inflammatory responses and a less efficient immune system.
    • Fun facts about Vitamin D: Milk products are commonly fortified with vitamin D, but in addition to drinking milk you have a fast, easy and free source: Sunlight. Spending just a few minutes in the sun with bare arms and/or legs will give you more than enough vitamin D to boost your mood. Vitamin D deficiency due to lack of sunlight in cold, dark winter months may be one factor associated with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). People with darker skin living in northern latitudes and dairy-avoiders are even more vulnerable to this deficiency. Reason #374 to get some fresh air and exercise outside!

Fish Oil, Mood and Cognition

  • The helpful fats in fish oils contain molecules that help create the neurotransmitter seretonin, and also seem to make your cells more permeable to the neurotransmitters that regulate your mood. There’s enough recent evidence between the impact of fish oil on mental health symptoms that a forward-thinking psychiatrist may even prescribe them to you along with your anti-depressant medication.
    • Fun facts about fish oil: You can get your daily dose of Omega 3’s, the active ingredient in fish oil through natural sources such as fatty fish and flax-seed oil. However, if salmon burgers are not your thing, fish oil supplements are widely available now. Supplements vary in quality. Check labels to make sure that your selection has been tested for mercury and other contaminants.

Probiotics and Mood

  • We know that the neurotransmitter serotonin impacts mood. But did you know that the second largest serotonin-producing factory in your body, after your brain, is actually your gastrointestinal tract? Numerous studies have shown that the quality of your healthy gut bacteria can have a significant impact on your serotonin production and consequently, your mood. Fascinatingly, one research study took gut bacteria from happy mice and sad mice, and swapped them. The sad mice demonstrated more behaviors associated with happiness in mice (sniffing? running on their little wheels? the study did not elaborate, sadly), and the formerly happy mice became sadder. Poor mice. However, the takeaway for us is this: Probiotics impact mood.
    • Fun facts about probiotics: Natural sources of probiotics include fermented foods like kombucha, kimchee and sauerkraut. Supplements are also available. High quality probiotics can be pricy, however when you consider the impact they may have on your overall life satisfaction they’re worth it. Other ways to support your gut health is by eating high quality, high fiber, plant based foods. Apparently, roughage supports the growth of healthy bacteria.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

Friends, I could go on. (Want to talk about exercise and mood? Don’t get me started!) But the point is that the way you feel on the inside, the way you think, and the way you react are all impacted by the way you care for yourself physically, as well as emotionally. That’s just one of the reasons why the counselors and coaches of Growing Self are such strong advocates of self-care. If you’ve been feeling not-so-hot lately, it may be a good idea to take a look at how you’ve been eating and caring for yourself physically.

You are a WHOLE being. You have thoughts, feelings, behaviors, relationships, and you are involved in different systems to boot. All of these impact you. It’s always helpful to talk about your feelings in order to understand yourself and develop compassion for yourself. However, you may move forward faster when you partner with a coach or counselor who will also support you in taking action to make positive changes in all parts of your life. You’re worth taking good care of!

All the best to you,

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby

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How Travel Helps You Grow

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How To Get Unstuck When You’re Feeling Trapped

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How to Start Making Positive Changes in Your Life

It’s easy to see the positive outcomes of people who successfully change their lives, but you don’t often hear about the ups and downs of their journey. Get the inside scoop and authentic truth of one woman’s story on this episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast.

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Natural Remedies For Depression

Natural Remedies For Depression

Feeling kind of “meh” lately? Feeling unmotivated and kind of negative about everything? You’re not alone. As winter drags on (and on) it’s the most normal thing in the world to be feeling kind of blah… and even for the dark tendrils of depression to snake their way around you.

Help is here! On today’s episode of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast we’re talking about natural remedies for depression.

If you’re like lots of people, you’re hopeful that there could be natural or home remedies that can help you fight back against depression. And you’re right. While sometimes therapy and medication are necessary to recover from Major Depressive Disorder, there are also fast, cheap, and relatively easy things that you can start doing today to start recovering from depression (and protect yourself from having it come back in the future).

Natural Remedies For Depression: Listen Now!


Music: Fyodorovitch, “Depression”

Here are the links I promised you in my podcast:

Fall Asleep Stay Asleep Podcast” to help you get some rest.

I hope these help you!

Lisa Marie




When to NOT Follow Your Feelings

When to NOT Follow Your Feelings

Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby is the founder and clinical director of Growing Self Counseling and Coaching. She’s the author of “Exaholics: Breaking Your Addiction to Your Ex Love,” and the host of The Love, Happiness & Success Podcast.

Not All Feelings Are Helpful


“Follow your feelings” is the punchline of countless self-help books, and the focus of many therapy sessions. We can spend years in therapy or counseling learning how to respect and obey our emotional guidance system, which will often lead you in the right direction. But the truth is that not all feelings are the same. Sometimes, listening to your feelings will absolutely wreck your life. How do you tell the difference between healthy and unhealthy feelings?

Healthy feelings are like your sense of smell. They provide you with information about the world, about yourselves, and other peoeple. Your feelings help you make decisions, and know when to move closer to something (or protect yourself).

At the same time, we’re all vulnerable to unhealthy feelings: Feelings that are rooted in depression, anxiety, low self esteem, trauma or impulsivity. And if we listen to those feelings we will almost invariably experience negative consequences.

But the big problem is that our feelings always feel true, no matter if they are “healthy” or “unhealthy.” It’s therefore very difficult to differentiate between feelings that we should respect and obey, or feelings that we should over-ride.

On today’s episode of The Love, Happiness and Success Podcast we’re talking all about feelings – and how you can determine which ones to listen to and which ones to let go of.

When to NOT Follow Your Feelings: Click Here to Listen Now

(Do you love the Love, Happiness & Success Podcast? Subscribe on iTunes, and leave a review!)

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When to NOT Follow Your Feelings

by Dr. Lisa Marie Bobby | Love, Happiness & Success

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Suicide Warning Signs, and What to Do If You’re Worried

Suicide Warning Signs, and What to Do If You’re Worried

Depression is a potentially life-threatening illness.

Today we learned that one of our most beloved entertainers, Robin Williams, has died from suicide. This is a difficult subject to talk about, but flushing the demon of suicide out of the darkness into the light takes away some of it’s power. So we need to have a conversation — I’ll start.

Depression is the mental equivalent of having a condition like diabetes, but instead of haywire blood sugar levels it makes mayhem with neurotransmitters. And when these brain chemicals fluctuate, people feel differently… and they think differently.

People who struggle with Depression are vulnerable to “cognitive distortions” that hijack their minds and tell them all sorts of lies: About how terrible they are, how terrible the world is, and how futile it is to resist.

The really insidious part about Depression is that it feels to the sufferer like all the lies are true. And when the voice of Depression becomes louder and stronger than the voice of love or reason it becomes a very dangerous illness.

In the grips of profound Depression, suicide can feel like a reasonable option and a decisive way to end unbearable pain that cognitive distortions cause. People can become even more vulnerable in the days and weeks after a public figure dies of suicide, because what was formerly unthinkable becomes more acceptable when someone we “know” and admire chooses this path.

Chronic Depression ebbs and flows, but when it gets more intense the pain may roar into a crescendo that becomes a life-threatening psychiatric emergency. At these times, people cannot help themselves, but rather need to be kept safe until the crisis passes. But how do you know when to intervene?

Warning Signs of Impending Suicide

Here are things to watch for, or to ask about if you get the feeling someone is spiraling down:

1) Are they depressed? (i.e., Feeling sad, hopeless, and helpless?)

2) Do they have a history of suicide attempts?

3) Have they suffered a recent loss?

4) Do they describe their problems as permanent conditions and / or have difficulty seeing any hope or meaning in their lives? Loss of hope is a particularly important indicator that someone may be in danger.

5) Do they have the means to kill themselves? Is there a gun or potentially lethal medications in the home?

6) Do they tend to be impulsive?

If a number of these factors are present, the person you care about may be more vulnerable to suicide.

What to Do If You’re Concerned

1) ASK. It is okay to literally say, “Do you feel like killing yourself?” Because the person you love is probably not going to start that conversation, particularly if the idea is seeming attractive to them. They don’t want to shock you, or scare you. But if you can open the door to the conversation, you’ll be able to find out if they need more support.

2) If someone tells you that they are thinking of killing themselves don’t leave them alone. They need to have a net of support around them until this passes. This means social support, and it also means professional support. Call their therapist and help them make an appointment. Call their psychiatrist and get them seen stat. And if they are not currently in mental health treatment, assist them in connecting with a professional. Your local community mental health center, or a referral from your general medical practitioner are good places to start.

3) If you feel that they are in imminent danger, GET HELP. If someone is in a crisis, and saying they want to kill themselves ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE MEANS they need to be protected until this transient psychiatric emergency passes. This may require temporary hospitalization. In every local hospital emergency room there are professionals trained to assess and cope with these situations. It sounds dramatic, but don’t be afraid to go to the hospital for help. It can make the difference between life and death.

3) If you are afraid for the life of someone you know and you are not able to contact them, they won’t answer the door, or they will not go with you to the hospital you can call the police and ask them to do a “Welfare Check.” Most law enforcement agencies have specially trained officers who can go to the home and do a suicide assessment.

4) For more support, or to help yourself if YOU have been struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call one of the many suicide hotlines available:

In Denver, call the Metro Crisis Services Hotline:888.885.1222
Nationally, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Loose The Blues

Loose The Blues

Call it a funk, a rut, a rough-patch — there are just times when you just don’t feel like yourself. We all go through it.

Maybe you’re more tired than usual, or crankier. Maybe you’re buzzing through your days with a low-grade ball of anxiety in the pit of your stomach, or feeling more negative and down on yourself than usual. Maybe you’re feeling more sensitive to slights, or feeling lonely — even when you’re around people.

You’re not “Depressed with a capital D…” but you just feel kind of low.

What to do? How do you start to shake off the “Yuck” and reconnect with your sense of wellbeing?

On this edition of the Love, Happiness and Success Podcast I’ll teach you how to “Loose the Blues” and start feeling like yourself again.

You’ll learn:

  1. How to figure out what is going on
  2. The simple cure for most of these “low” episodes
  3. The secret paradox that will help you start feeling happy again faster
  4. How to avoid the biggest mistake you can make during low periods. (The one that will keep you trapped in yucky feelings).

Listen Now.

(Music Credits: “Anxiety Attack,” by Jeffrey Lewis.)

Growing Self Counseling & Coaching
Growing Self