Depression: A Diet Danger Zone

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Stop sadness from sabotaging your waistline

It's no surprise that lots of us eat more when we're upset. What's new is that researchers have now quantified how much that may cost us in weight gain. In a study of 3,500 people, women suffering from moderate depression or anxiety ate an average of 118 extra calories each day. Men ate 181 more calories (Jour. of the Amer. Dietetic Assoc., May 2002). That could translate into weight gains of 12 lb for women and 19 lb for men over just 1 year.

Moderate depression and anxiety affect 20% of Americans at any time. Some signs that you may be affected: having trouble focusing or avoiding social situations.

How to help yourself: Depressed or anxious women ate fewer fruits and veggies, so try to trade one high-calorie snack for low-calorie carrot sticks or an apple every day. Men ate more high-fat foods. Keep lower-fat versions of foods such as hot dogs and cheese on hand.

PHOTO (COLOR): Mood diving? Start crunching.

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By Holly McCord, RD

with Gloria McVeigh

Holly McCord is Prevention's nutrition editor.

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