Whether it's because of a really, really not-so-good day, a surge of unwanted hormones, or maybe even the gloomy weather, bad moods happen to all of us. But did you know that feeling a bit anxious or glum could also be the result of your food? Diet plays a role that goes beyond just affecting your body — it can also have a large influence on your mind. Though your first instinct may not be to blame your lunch as the culprit for your sour mood, certain foods can make you feel down, depressed, and even anxious. High consumption of processed foods can make you feel chronically moody, and studies even show that in countries where people consume a lot of sugar, the rate of depression is higher.
"The foods we consume have a profound impact on how we feel," says Christa Mantey RD, LDN, CHHC. "The food-mood connection is well recognized and there are certain foods that make us feel worse than others."
Luckily, getting rid of problem foods might be a quick solution to kicking those pervasive nasty feelings. Next time you're feeling down in the dumps, try ditching the following foods to have yourself feeling cheery and upbeat in no time.
If you've never been the victim of caffeine anxiety, consider yourself lucky. Coffee can not only exacerbate existing anxiety, but it can cause anxiety in people who don't normal suffer from it. If you find that coffee gives you the jitters, you may just want to cut down, as too much caffeine can increase cortisol levels and overstimulate you.
2. Trans Fat
"One of the most toxic ingredients in the processed food supple is trans fats or partially hydrogenated oils, which are linked to depression and anxiety," says Mantley.
Trans fat is found in fried and packaged junk food such as french fries, potato chips, and many desserts. Studies have found that artery-clogging fats make people more prone to depression and anxiety, anti-social behavior and general feelings of malaise and exhaustion.
We all know that sugar isn't the most healthy food, but it not only wreaks havoc on our body, but also on our metal state. "Sugar sends our blood sugar levels on a roller coaster which is directly linked to our mood," says Mantey.
"It also contributes to chronic inflammation in your body, and inflammation disrupts the immune system, which can increase risk for depression."
And don't think that resorting to "sugar-free" foods keeps you in the clear either; artificial sweeteners have also been found to increase depression and other mood and neurological disorders as well.
There may be some reason for that gluten-free craze after all!
"More evidence is linking gluten and depression, since wheat inhibits the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain, but mostly in the lining of the intestines," says Mantey.
Though it doesn't happen to everyone, those who have an intolerance to gluten of any kind may have symptoms of anxiety from consumption of wheat products.
OK, so cocktails might not actually be part of your basic food groups (or maybe they are!), but drinking can lead to changes in mood, and not just from the misery of being hungover. Alcohol not only affects your levels of serotonin in the brain, but it can cause a drop in blood sugar, increase your heart rate, and affect your nervous system, all factors that can increase anxiety and cause moodiness.
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