If you’re coping with depression, you might be surprised to know that your diet could be exacerbating the symptoms.
And I hate to tell you this, but most of the foods you should avoid are the ones people often turn to when they’re having a rough day.
You don’t need to cut these foods out of your diet completely, of course. Everything in moderation, right? However, it is important to be aware of the negative impacts that certain foods can have on your mental health, so that you can make better food choices to benefit your mental health and general well-being.
So, let’s take a look at foods that could be exacerbating your depression.
We are surrounded by processed foods that used refined grains. The term “refined” refers to grain products that have been significantly modified from their natural composition. Convenient foods like white rice, pasta, crackers, bread, chips, and breaded foods are full of refined carbs.
These refined grains offer little to no nutritional value, robbing you of important vitamins and nutrients. Because they are low in fiber and digested quickly, eating refined carbs can cause major swings in blood sugar levels — which can also result in symptoms of low mood and fatigue.
By now, I’m sure you are aware that sugary foods and drinks aren’t good for our bodies. However, it can affect more than just your waistline or dental health. Sugar can also significantly impact your mood. Again, keeping your blood sugar levels more evenly balanced can help your mood stay more balanced, too.
It’s important to pay attention to just how many products contain sugar, because it’s not just cakes and cookies. There is sugar lurking in salad dressings, barbecue sauce, cereal, and even “healthy” foods like granola bars or trail mix.
The word “sugar” might not always appear on the label, either. Be on the lookout for corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, agave syrup, brown sugar, glucose, or sucrose, among others.
Look, don’t shoot the messenger here… but you might want to start cutting back on the caffeine.
There’s nothing wrong with a moderate amount of caffeine, so you don’t have to skip your morning coffee boost. However, many Americans are way over-caffeinated, drinking coffee, sodas, and energy drinks all day. Caffeine can lead to crashes later in the day and mood swings.
For a healthier caffeine alternative, try green tea. In addition to antioxidant benefits, it also provides theanine, an amino acid that provides anti-stress benefits.
Again, don’t shoot the messenger here, but alcohol isn’t the best for people dealing with depression. Limiting your alcohol consumption is in your best interest, especially because alcohol is a depressant itself.
On top of that, many alcoholic beverages can be pretty sugary, which as noted above, can sabotage your mood and send your sugar levels on a rollercoaster ride.