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Psychiatric drugs can pack on the pounds -2

Exercise
Those of us who live with psychiatric disorders tend to be less physically active because the disorder saps our energy and motivation. So we get the double whammy of weight gain resulting from both our sedentary lifestyle and our medication. Our self-esteem plummets, contributing to our depression. But, exercise has many benefits beyond the physical. It lifts mood, improves sleep and lowers anxiety.

Create your own fitness plan that incorporates calming/breathing exercises, relaxation training, stretching and flexibility exercises, warm ups and cool downs.

Check out the local municipal recreation facility or join a health club. Consider tennis, yoga or water aerobics classes.

Build exercise into your everyday activities.

  • Rake the leaves or mow the lawn.
  • Park a little farther away and walk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a walk on your lunch hour or after dinner with family members.
  • Walk the dog.
  • Start walking 10 minutes a day and increase the time by five minutes each week until you can walk 30 minutes a day.

Diet
Here we get another double whammy with both our meds and our illness working against us. Many psychiatric drugs bulk us up no matter what we eat; some of them stimulate our appetite, making us overeat. And mood disorders create carbohydrate cravings, because carbs increase serotonin, which makes us feel better, so we eat too much of the wrong foods.
Here are some basic guidelines to a healthier diet.

  • Eat more fruits, whole grain, vegetables, lean meat, fish, and poultry.
  • Drink six to eight glasses of water each day.
  • Drink fewer alcoholic and high-calorie beverages.
  • Eat smaller portions.
  • Eat more frequent small meals and snacks to lower insulin levels, reducing the production of body fat.
  • Eat slowly to give the stomach time to signal the brain when it’s full.
  • Prepare food by broiling or baking more often instead of frying.
  • Try not to soothe your negative feelings with food.
  • Here are some tips from the National Institutes of Health

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