We are what we eat! Many mental health studies have recently examined the link between diet and psychological wellness. For more information, we’ve outlined some of the best foods to eat, but there are also certain foods you should avoid if you’re struggling with anxiety or depression. Here are some of the worst foods for mental health:
There is no nutritional benefit to drinking soda, either regular or diet. The high amounts of sugar in regular soda can cause blood pressure to spike, which can impact the brain. There have also been studies that linked soda consumption to depression. The caffeine in many soda brands can also be bad for you if you’re someone who struggles with anxiety.
It’s time to reconsider what kind of toast you have with your sandwiches. White bread is made from heavily processed white flour, which is quickly turned into sugar by your body. This can create energy spikes and crashes that are bad for both anxiety and depression. Try swapping out your white bread for whole-grain!
We all know processed sugar is bad for us, and many companies market “light” or “sugar-free” versions of their products. Whether it’s diet soda or a light dressing, these might actually be worse than the regular stuff in some regards. Food companies typically swap out the high-fructose corn syrup in their regular products for aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener that has been linked to anxiety and depression.
Caffeine addictions are so common today we rarely talk about them. While a cup of coffee, or two… or three, in the morning, may feel like a regular routine, it may be negatively impacting your mental health. Caffeine can make you feel jittery and nervous, and it also leads to withdrawals and impacts sleep patterns. Try switching to decaf or swap out coffee with tea, which has lower levels of caffeine. If you like having coffee as part of your breakfast ritual, try to limit consumption only to the morning, as caffeine can affect you for several hours, even interrupting your normal sleep schedule.
We’ve all hit that wall of tiredness before, but maybe don’t chug an energy drink next time that happens. These drinks have been known to cause irregular heart rhythms, anxiety, and sleep issues. These beverages have extremely high levels of caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Drinking water and eating whole fruit is a better way of giving your body natural energy!
It’s not uncommon for people with mental health issues to turn to alcohol as a form of self-medication. Even in short term use, alcohol can have a negative impact on mental wellness. It effects our bodies like a depressant, so it can ultimately makes any bad mood you’re in worse. Alcohol also impacts normal sleep routines and causes dehydration that can make symptoms like irritability and sluggishness worse. In addition, there is a high correlation between alcoholism and other mental health issues. People with existing mental health issues are more likely to develop alcohol dependency than the rest of the population. Some in moderation is fine, but don’t use it to as a crutch to medicate your mental health issues!
They say deep-frying anything makes it better, but while the food’s taste may improve, the impact it will have on your body does not. Not only are fried foods bad for physical health, but they’ll also negatively impact your mental health. They contain high levels of unhealthy fats and sodium, which have been linked to mood changes, irritability, and decreased energy levels. As cliche as it may sound, eating a diet high in vitamins and healthy fats, like nuts or fish, will noticeably impact your overall mood. Avoid eating breaded and fried foods as much as possible.