7 Foods You Should Avoid If You Have Depression
You probably already know that diet has a huge impact on your psychological and mental state. It's not surprising then that depression is a mental health disorder often accompanied by poor eating habits.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can prove a real challenge when you are already struggling with profound sadness, lack of energy, irritability, and insomnia. However, excluding harmful foods from your diet is the first step towards a healthier brain and mind.
So, here's a list of foods and beverages you should leave out of the menu if you want to minimize blood sugar fluctuations, mood swings, and severe depressive symptoms.
People who struggle with low mood and energy often use alcohol as a form of self-medication to make them feel better. However, when alcoholic effects subside, they feel even worse than before, so a vicious cycle is created. Alcohol works as a depressant, meaning it suppresses your central nervous system and interferes with how you process emotions. It also affects sleep quality, so if you are already sleeping poorly, refrain from alcohol consumption as much as possible.
Caffeine can affect people in different ways. If your body doesn't tolerate it well, you may experience nervousness, irritability, and an increased heart rate. You should cut down on your coffee intake progressively to minimize the negative effects of caffeine withdrawal. Try replacing your cup of coffee with other beverages so as not to feel completely deprived. Opt for decaf, or, even better, organic herbal tea - its natural properties can benefit your nervous system, improve your mood, and help you sleep better.
Energy Drinks and Sodas
Depression often comes with constant fatigue and exhaustion, so energy drinks often appear as a temporary solution. However, they do more harm than good; the combination of caffeine, sugar, and artificial sweeteners can cause increased cardiac rhythm and sleep disruptions. Regular fizzy drinks can also be problematic, as they have no nutritional benefits while containing their fair share of sugar and sweeteners. Diet sodas are no better for you, and their caffeine content is also likely to increase anxiety and leave you feeling even more depressed.
Fruit juice can offer a quick pick-me-up, but the price you pay is steep. Your blood sugar drops fast, and you are left feeling hungry and more irritated than before. Contrary to popular belief, fruit juices don't quench your thirst effectively, so drinking lots of water is a far better practice. Eating organic whole fruit is also a better alternative; the fiber content keeps you full and balances your blood sugar as well as your mood.
Processed foods are affordable, easily accessible, and highly palatable. They require very little or no preparation, so people who don't have the motivation or the energy to prepare nutritious, well-balanced meals at home often resort to them. Nevertheless, these types of foods are the embodiment of everything that's wrong with the modern Western diet. They are high in additives, sugar, salt, and calories. Regular consumption increases inflammation throughout the body, including the brain. Prolonged inflammatory responses can increase the risk of depression and lead to appetite changes, fatigue, cognitive impairment, sleep disturbances, negative mood, and social withdrawal.
Salad Dressings and Ketchup
Premade salad dressings and sauces are full of sugar in various forms, such as ingredients like corn syrup. Even the so-called "sugar-free" products contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener associated with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression. Ketchup is also a bad choice because of its exceptionally high sugar content (four grams per tablespoon). Homemade organic dressings and salsa are your best option, since you prepare them from scratch and control all the ingredients you put in them.
Trans fats are found in a wide variety of common products such as packaged baked goods, processed foods, margarine, and frying oil used for cooking fast food. They can latch onto the arterial walls and cause atherosclerosis and an increased risk of heart disease. They are also linked to a higher risk of depression, as well as feelings of aggression and irritability. It is also possible that these compounds reduce serotonin (often called "the happy hormone") production in the brain. Substitute trans fats with avocado oil to nourish your brain and improve your mood.
Lifestyle changes, including a more nutritious diet, are crucial for depression recovery and prevention. If you are already dealing with depressive symptoms, low motivation could prevent you from adopting better eating habits. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that even small changes can have positive long-term effects. Avoid tempting but harmful foods and drinks whenever possible and you have made the first step to improved physical