IT COULD get stressful working on the newsdesk of The Times in London and I used to take refuge from all 'the heat' down where Rachel Kelly sat. She was the paper's property editor.
She used to sweetly tell me to be easy on myself; treat myself to a Mars Bar. It was her way of saying "this too shall pass”.
As Rachel knows all too well, combining working life with a young family can lead to anxiety and depression.
Rachel has suffered two major episodes of depression and went onto to subsequently write two best-selling books about her experiences and how she managed to get through.
The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food is her third book and she is currently in Australia to promote it. These days, the Mars Bar is firmly in the book's index under "treats”.
In chapters ranging from Steady Energy to Beating the Blues to Finding Comfort, Rachel's joyous bible of good mood food offers recipes and meal planners to keep calm, conquer mood swings and sleep well.
Rachel has been working with nutritionist Alice Mackintosh for the past five years to build up a repertoire of recipes that target particular mental conditions. The recipes have been designed to "soothe and gladden the soul” as well as provide "science bites” to explain the biology and chemistry and nutritional aspects of the food groups featured.
Did you know, for instance, "watercress contains gram for gram, more calcium than milk and more vitamin C thand oranges”?
Over time Rachel says she discovered certain foods were helping her with her symptoms.
"I started to formulate golden rules for happier eating, and the more I followed them, the better I felt,”says Rachel
But The Happy Kitchen is so much more than a cook or self help book. It's a celebration of all the senses. Rachel's facebook followers will attest to her love of poetry. She posts articles and poems from various publications often ripped out and "crinkly” from having been stuffed in pocket.
In her first book, Black Rainbow, she describes how the power of poetry got her through her darkest hours. The Happy Kitchen contains the most beautiful distillation of poetic snippets. Quoting from Thomas Hardy to Rudyard Kipling, Rachel is able to sum up how the simplest moments in life are often the most powerful.
She is no longer prescribing Mars Bars but the message is still beautiful in its simplicity. To look after ourselves is to appreciate and make life worth living.
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