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Thread: Paleo, Veganism and Depression page

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    valmason01's Avatar
    valmason01 is offline Senior Member
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    Paleo, Veganism and Depression

    Hi all! Hoping everyone is well and safe this Sunday. I know we in the South are enjoying our first true day of Fall and those of you in the NE are in my prayers as Sandy comes through.

    I need some help. I have a 13 year old 'niece' (cousins' daughter) who is very depressed. She is a twin and her sister is one of the happiest, live on the surface girls I know. But R is not. She has always been moodier than her sister and as she hits those teenage years it is getting worse. I found out yesterday she has been seeing a counselor but refuses to really talk. Her mother and step-mother who she lives with are vegetarians and she is vegan. I am convinced that this has a lot to do with what is wrong however; I have no idea how to even begin to approach this. They are surprisingly not all that open to change of any sort and of course convinced that meat is bad. R will not even eat anything w/ gelatin in it. She does trust me and will talk to me more than most so I am hoping for some ideas on how to start talking to her about changing her eating to help with the depression.

    Any and all ideas are very welcome!
    You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

    Age 48
    height 5'3
    SW 215 lbs
    CW 180 lbs (whole foods/primal eating)
    LW 172 lbs
    GW 125ish lbs

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    She needs B vitamins and omega-3s. Flax seed is not an option, because we can't convert those fatty acids.

    She's gonna have to get some protein in her, in the form of cold water fatty fish. I'm not crazy about supplements, but that's just me. Eat your nutrients. No one should be vegan at that age. That is just nuts.

    She needs to eat FAT. Animal fat is best, but avocados and macadamia nuts are awesome. I wouldn't go crazy on other nuts. Macs are expensive, but worth it. Low in omega 6, and very, very low in phytic acid.

    You may have to pull out some well referenced blogs, especially Chris Kresser's (chriskresser.com). He has a huge pile of information on depression and how to deal with it.

    http://chriskresser.com/depression

    The fact is, she's depressed. Life is hard enough at that age anyway, and depression only makes it worse. I wish someone was looking out for me at that age, when *I* was starting to realize how depressed I really was.

    Don't give up on her!
    Last edited by patski; 10-28-2012 at 06:07 PM.
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    valmason01's Avatar
    valmason01 is offline Senior Member
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    Thanks so much for responding! I promise I will not give up on her. She is an amazing girl and I adore her (I have a lot of nieces and nephews and adore all of them for that matter). I also was very depressed at that age and for the majority of my life. And I wish someone had done the same for me. I am sorry that happened to you as well.

    I agree she should not be vegan, it drives me crazy. I will check out Chris kesser and see what I can do to get this information to her mothers (both of who I would like to strangle)

    THanks again!
    You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

    Age 48
    height 5'3
    SW 215 lbs
    CW 180 lbs (whole foods/primal eating)
    LW 172 lbs
    GW 125ish lbs

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    Damiana's Avatar
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    She can be vegan if that's her philosophy, but I'd recommend you try to unobtrusively make sure she us getting adequate nutrients. She is growing a lot right now and needs enough calories, as well as protein and fats, if anything, stunted growth should be a good motivator to start eating better. It is so easy to miss out on essential nutrients to keep one's mind mentally alert and functioning normally on a vegetarian and vegan diet, from personal experience. Good luck.
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    The Mood Cure has some information about making a vegetarian diet work while still trying to manage depression and anxiety. I don't know if she'd be interested in such a book, but it's a very accessible read.
    Journal on depression/anxiety
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    valmason01's Avatar
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    Thanks! I will look for it. And thanks to everyone for the suggestions. I will just keep working at it with her.
    Quote Originally Posted by namelesswonder View Post
    The Mood Cure has some information about making a vegetarian diet work while still trying to manage depression and anxiety. I don't know if she'd be interested in such a book, but it's a very accessible read.
    You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

    Age 48
    height 5'3
    SW 215 lbs
    CW 180 lbs (whole foods/primal eating)
    LW 172 lbs
    GW 125ish lbs

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    abstract's Avatar
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    Seriously, she just needs to quit being a vegetarian. I did it for 7 years, the last year I was vegan. I thought I was really losing my mind. Paleo has saved me from suicidal depression and intense anxiety and malaise. After 2 years I feel so much better and I'm so much more in control of the way I feel. Anyone who is prone to depression just cannot be a vegetarian. That is all there is to it. All of the positive mood neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, are synthesized from the amino acids in protein. A vegetarian diet just doesn't provide enough bioavailable protein. I know this from experience. It just doesn't work.

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    Why is she vegan? If it's for reasons other than health (ethical, environmental, etc) then it will be difficult (probably futile), and imo a little disrespectful to try and push her away from what she feels is right, even if it's in her best interest, and may possibly backfire. I became vegetarian and ate like shit at 14 and flat out refused to listen to anyone about my diet. It wasn't until I was an adult that I became a lot more conscious of my diet and ate well and became much healthier, yet still abstained from meat. And it wasn't until early this year that I reintroduced meat back into my diet.

    So if she is adamant about sticking to her diet/lifestyle maybe encourage her to cook more balanced meals with you that have a healthier ratio of fats and micronutrients. Try and observe what she eats when you're around to get an idea of what she's lacking/over consuming and find some vegan foods or recipes to boost her nutrition. For example, raw cacao for magnesium and anti-oxidants, coconut milk for its fatty acids. I know a vegan diet is not considered ideal here, but some still thrive on one so maybe visit some vegetarian forums to get an idea of what people there eat for some inspiration? If your niece feels more inspired and empowered in being adventurous with her cooking, that can do wonders for self-esteem and mental health.

    Good luck.

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    valmason01's Avatar
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    I appreciate the reminder that it is up to her. She became vegan for health reasons but like many 13 year olds it has become a part of her identity. And her mothers are vegetarian so it is hard to approach the mind set. Vegetarian forums are a great idea.

    Abstract I have heard more than one person say that being vegan really messed them up. I appreciate the feedback. LOL..how do you change a 13 year old girl?
    You know all those things you wanted to do: You should go do them.

    Age 48
    height 5'3
    SW 215 lbs
    CW 180 lbs (whole foods/primal eating)
    LW 172 lbs
    GW 125ish lbs

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    As a recently 'recovered' vegan, I can definitely vouch for the correlation between inadequate diet and disordered mood. I am not as young as your niece, but can definitely say that adhering to a strict vegan diet did quite a number on my health. Unfortunately, I was not compelled to change my eating habits until I looked and felt undeniably unwell.

    That being said, there are a number of vegan food blogs that seem to be run by fairly happy, well-intentioned individuals, and which may be a good resource for her to at least be inspired to broaden her culinary horizons to improve her health, if she is adamantly anti-omnivory, at the moment.
    Healthful Pursuit features a wide variety of recipes, from vegan to paleo, and may help to inspire dietary flexibility.
    My New Roots is also lovely, mostly vegan & vegetarian recipes, but with a great deal of information on nutrients and the importance of essential fats, etc.

    As much as all of us on this forum know that animal-derived nutrients simply can't be replaced by plants, teaching by preaching [to a young teenager, no less] is far from fool-proof. It may help if she thinks she's discovering something new on her own, getting inspired, et cetera.

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