You know that old saying, “You are what you eat”?
As it turns out, that might be even more true than we ever thought.
The foods we put into our body can have a tremendous effect on our moods and mental well-being. In fact, if you’re coping with depression, your diet could be amplifying the symptoms.
I’m not suggesting that you have to completely cut all of these foods out of your diet, of course. Everything in moderation, right? Obsessing over restrictions could wind up backfiring and doing more harm than good.
At the same time, it’s important to be aware of the negative impacts that certain foods can have on your well-being. Making better food choices is an easy way to help lessen your depression symptoms.
So, let’s look at some of the foods that could be making your depression symptoms worse.
Most people are already aware that sugary foods and drinks aren’t good for our bodies. We still consume a ton of it, though. I mean, it’s hard to turn down a good cake.
However, sugar can affect more than just your waistline or dental health. It can also significantly impact your mood, as sugar causes up-and-down blood sugar spikes and crashes. It can also mess with your brain’s reward neurotransmitter, dopamine.
Pay careful attention to what you’re eating, and read the labels. Sugar is lurking in more than just cakes and cookies — you can find it just about everywhere, from salad dressings to trail mix. And often, it might not be labeled outright as “sugar.” Look for ingredients like corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, agave syrup, brown sugar, glucose, or sucrose, among others.
I’m willing to bet your pantry is full of refined grains right now. The term “refined” refers to grain products that have been significantly modified from their natural composition. Convenient foods like white bread, crackers, pasta, rice, and breaded foods are full of refined carbs.
Refined grains offer little to no nutritional value — they’ve been stripped of important vitamins and nutrients — so it’s like eating empty carbs. They’re low in fiber and digested quickly, too, so it can cause major swings in blood sugar levels similar to those sugary foods mentioned above.
The blood sugar roller coaster can leave you with symptoms of low mood and fatigue.
I know you don’t want to hear it, but it might be a good idea to cut back on the caffeine a little.
While there’s nothing wrong with a moderate amount of caffeine, many people are actually over-caffeinated. If you spend all day drinking coffee, sodas, and energy drinks, it’s too much, and it can lead to crashes and mood swings.
You can still enjoy your morning coffee boost, but it’s best not to over-do it. Or, you could try green tea as a healthier alternative, since it provides antioxidant benefits along with the caffeine.
Don’t shoot the messenger here, but alcohol isn’t all that great for people dealing with depression. Alcohol is actually a depressant, so that right there is enough reason to put the drink down when battling depression and other mood disorders.
On top of that, lots of alcoholic drinks can also be pretty sugary. That means that they can sabotage your mood and send you on a blood sugar roller coaster ride, too, just like other sugary foods.