I need help in helping my husband.
My Husband is struggling with ADHD, depression, anxiety, possible bipolar etc. It's taking a toll on him physically, mentally, relationally and professionally (no surprise, I'm sure). He eats the SAD, maybe a little better, as he will eat what I make him most times and I am pretty conscious of giving him health food. He's pretty aware of some aspects of a good diet (say, the importance of veggies, etc), but lacks self discipline to make big changes, any drive to "learn" in this area and also the motivation to do anything ( which, I'm sure is the result of his mental and emotional state at this point) He doesn't believe diet will impact his mental state at all. While I can agree with him that it might not magically change things (and it might), it will very likely help.
He is very familiar with Paleo, as I'm pretty strict at this point. He has zero interest in making that kind of change. In fact, he has been completely closed to any dietary changes, but recently when I was telling him I thought some changes would help, he said something like, "Like what kind of changes? What should I be doing". I know better than to give him the Paleo 10 commandments and tell him to keep the law, but I do think there's an emerging openness to making some changes. I'm just a little stumped about what changes are most likely to benefit him and his specific issues. I know him well enough to know that he'll likely give it a go, but if he doesn't see and changes, or sees bad ones, he won't keep with it for long. I want to be sure that the recommendations I make are ones that have the best chance of giving him positive change. I would love some help in coming up with a beginner plan for him. Maybe I can ease him in by "baiting the hook" with great initial results.... If only that were predictable :-)
Here are a few details that might be helpful in the Hacking process:
- 32 years old
- By my best guess he is about 40+ lbs over weight
- Takes Lexapro currently, but has a history with ADHD drugs, etc.
- History of mental issues and possible bipolar
- Consumes large quantities of coffee (half & half and sugar) :-(
- Recently gotten into the Red Bull habit
- Consumes Alcohol daily- 1 or 2 beers/ or a large glass of wine
- Works an office job and has only recently started any kind of exercise. He will bike 5-10 miles on the weekends now.
- At home he eats minimal processed food, as I cook from scratch and am using healthy fats, meats, low/no dairy, etc. I do make him pasta or rice once a week or so. He does like commercial cereal, so he buys that for himself. When he eats out, I would say he eats OK most of the time, but not great. He makes many of the common nutritional mistakes-- For example, he told me that he bought a whole bunch of Naked juices to load up on because they would be healthy for him. He has no thought toward the sugar overload of consuming juice like that.
I have repeatedly told him that I thought he would benefit from kicking the caffeine habit, but I know this is one thing he's really holding on to. The caffeine helps him to wake up and focus and he can't imagine doing either without medication or caffeine. Am I right in thinking it would have a good impact on him to get rid of it (not to mention the dairy and sugar that goes a long with it)? Any thoughts to possible downsides of drinking even Decaf (I'm sensitive even to that amount of caffeine) in it's place?
Any input you can give would be really helpful! Thanks!
asked bythemommybug (346)
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on August 27, 2011
at 03:01 PM
I was diagnosed bipolar as a teenager. The only times I experience mood swings now is when I consume alcohol, too much caffeine, or sugar. A high fat diet has been the greatest benefit I have ever experienced - drugs don't even begin to compare.
The reliance on alcohol and caffeine suggest blood sugar dysregulation. Between the two it's a dance to keep blood sugar up. The coffee needs to be the first thing to go as caffeine can mimic the symptoms of attention deficit and bipolar mania. It must be removed so the problems can be appropriately identified. This will then make it a little easier to eliminate the alcohol which also is a major contributor to cognitive and mood problems.
For further guidance on this I strongly suggest the book Seven Weeks to Sobriety by Joan Mathews Larson. It is available on Amazon for very cheap. It will show you in detail how the things I've mentioned all work together to disrupt brain function. Testing recommendations are also made to determine food sensitivities and other contributing physiological factors. Furthermore supplement regimens are described to assist in recovery and healing.
Beyond this, I can not stress enough the benefits I have experienced from a high fat low carbohydrate diet. It's like I have my brain back, and my life came with it.
on August 27, 2011
at 02:25 PM
My advice is to pick one thing and start there, ie: removing caffine or removing all sugar, or carbs.
Trying to go 90 or 100% at one time will throw his world upside down and I know thats not what you want to do.
Why not set up an initial plan of having him make certain choices with each meal and first remove the caffiene. Then after 2 wks add in another item like, no more cereal. Give him 2 wks to adjust to each change and see how he does.
Then tackle the sugar/juice or any other thing you can think of.
Add in nightly walks or weekend walks/biking for fun. Or just circling the mall. Exercise should help brighten his moods, and add vit. D.
Sounds like tackling small mountains one at a time will yield the greatest results for him.
I'm sure someone can give you a more scientific way to approach this, but I'd do it with kid gloves!!
good luck and I'm sure since he's open to new things he'll accept some over others, but run with it!!!!
on August 27, 2011
at 02:56 PM
I too have ADD, depression, and anxiety and I don't know why you'd want him to give up the substances that help him achieve at the level of a more typical person. I do better with caffeine too - and there's not much evidence it's bad for you, as long as you don't consume extremely high amounts. I just started taking Adderall and it is AWESOME (I can get stuff done!!). I wouldn't hesitate to go back on SSRIs or anti-anxiety meds either, if I felt needed them. I've been this way my whole life; my brain doesn't work normally. It took a long time for me to get the help I needed. I firmly believe that I would be a fantastic hunter-gatherer, but my type of mind is less well-suited to a modern life.
No, I don't think cutting out caffeine will have any positive effect at all for your husband. He'll simply be more 'out of it' during the day than he was with it, and it sounds like he's struggling a great deal already. His brain is probably both chemically and structurally different from yours and it needs stimulants to 'wake up' enough to be able to do much of what you can naturally.
Eating paleoish (I eat moderate starch and a lot of dairy fat) has helped a bit with these things and with a ton of my other issues. I would put your focus on a]helping him reduce the total sugars and otherwise bad foods (wheat, vegetable oils) in his daily diet and b]helping him increase his consumption of healthy, fresh, 'paleo' foods, to get his body pumped full of nutrients and functioning optimally. Especially helping him transition to more meals with plenty of fat and protein, to keep his mood and energy more stable all day. Cutting out carbs totally would probably be enough to scare him off. Why not just feed him the healthiest starches (potatoes, white rice, sweet potatoes), so he doesn't go buy cookies etc when he craves starch? Keep caffeine, but try to get away from the Red Bulls and put just heavy cream in the coffee. Compromises. Plan, prepare and cook meals together. Discuss the reasoning behind healthier eating.
There is some evidence IIRC that people with ADD have difficulties with getting enough glucose to certain areas of the brain... I do not function well mentally without starch, and I am wondering if low-carb is similarly dificult for other ADD people.
on November 21, 2011
at 06:27 PM
Seek after Jesus Christ. Read the Bible. Pray.
Get in community. Be with people. Love on people.
Eat/drink healthy - lower sugar intake, lower caffeine intake, up carbs, and drink water (half your weight in ounces daily)
Get adequate restful sleep. Try to get to bed @ 10:00pm - 10:30pm for best restful sleep.
Exercise - get outside, walk, and be amazed at God's creation.
When feeling depressed or anxious - take organic Niacin (vitamin B3). But read and follow the link first.
Let me know if it helps and cures your anxiety/depression!
on August 27, 2011
at 03:14 PM
Sometimes the best way to change the eating habits of someone is to be sneaky.
Start by making more Paleo friendly meals. Do take walks/bike rides with him, making it more of "I want to spend time together" instead of "It's this diet I am on that I have to exercise"
I would also make sure to document everything. Start with taking measurements and weight. Just as a starting point, and not revisit for like 2 weeks. This is usually the best way to see the progress when you can do the "before" picture.
Another step is to have those go to "snacks" that he can have when needed. I have a container of chopped nuts and dried fruit in the fridge and we snack on it from time to time and also have it for breakfast with coconut milk. I find that if you those go to snacks it helps with the transition and you don't miss all the bad junk.
If he is willing, have him do a journal for 30 days. Tell him to be really honest with what his body is doing, recording everything from how he feels, to what was happening that day/week, and what type of exercise he did. Tell him not to reread his posts, just continue to the next post and at the 30 day mark, then reread the whole journal. That should help "convince" him that this works. Good Luck.