Food to avoid depression

Foods to Avoid If You Have Anxiety or Depression

Medically Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on September 14, 2021

The fiber in whole fruit fills you up and slows down how your blood takes in energy. Without that fiber, you’re just drinking nutritious sugar-water that can quickly hype you up -- and bring you down just as fast. That can leave you hungry and angry -- “hangry.” That won't help anxiety and depression. Eat your fruit whole. When you’re thirsty, drink water. 

There's no win for you here: It has all of the blood-spiking sugar of fruit juice with none of the nutrition. Sugar-sweetened drinks like soda have a direct link to depression, too. If you crave a pop, try seltzer water with a splash of juice instead. It'll give you a bubbly fix without too much of the stuff you don't need.

No sugar, so no problem, right? Not exactly. You may not have the energy crash that comes with having too much sugar, but diet soda may make you depressed. In fact, it could make you feel more down than its sugary cousin would. Too much of the caffeine that many sodas have can be bad for anxiety, too.

Wait, toast?! If it's made from white bread, yes. The highly processed white flour it's made from quickly turns to blood sugar after you eat it. That can cause energy spikes and crashes that can be bad for anxiety and depression. You can have your toast -- and eat it, too. Just use whole-grain bread.

You might know to avoid some pre-packaged dressings and marinades loaded with sugar, often listed as “high-fructose corn syrup.” But what about “light” or “sugar-free” dressings? Many get their sweetness from aspartame, an artificial sweetener linked to anxiety and depression. Check the ingredients or, better yet, make your dressing at home from scratch.  

It’s mostly tomatoes, right? Well, yes, and sugar, lots of sugar. Four grams per tablespoon, to be exact. And the “light” stuff may have artificial sweeteners that could be linked to anxiety and depression.  Try homemade tomato salsa instead. Want a little kick? Add a bit of cayenne pepper.  

If you’re not used to it, the caffeine in it can make you jittery and nervous. It could also mess up your sleep. Neither helps anxiety or depression. Caffeine withdrawal can make you feel bad, too. If you think it causes you problems, cut caffeine out of your diet slowly. If you’re OK with it, or drink decaf, coffee can actually help make you feel less depressed. 

They can cause weird heart rhythms, anxiety, and sleep issues. That’s because it’s not always easy to know the sky-high caffeine levels hidden in ingredients like guarana. These beverages often have loads of sugar or artificial sweeteners, too. Drink water if you’re thirsty. Want a sugar hit? Eat a piece of fruit.

Even a little can mess up your sleep. Not enough rest can raise anxiety and cause depression. Too many ZZZs can cause even more problems. That said, a drink could calm your nerves and make you more sociable. That can be good for your mental health. The key is dosage: A drink a day for women, and two a day for men, is the limit.

It’s the sugar, right? Well, yes, but that’s not all. It’s also loaded with around 2 grams of "trans fats" per serving. They're linked to depression. Sometimes called “partially hydrogenated oils,” they’re also in fried foods, pizza dough, cakes, cookies, and crackers. Check your labels. If you do eat fat, make it the “good” kind you get from foods like fish, olive oil, nuts, and avocado. Those can lift your mood.

This one is only for people who are sensitive to gluten. In addition to breads, noodles, and pastries, it’s also in prepackaged foods like soy sauce. If you’re sensitive to gluten, it can cause anxiety or depression. It can also make you feel sluggish and not at your best. Check labels and try to steer clear.

If you eat lots of processed meat, fried food, refined cereals, candy, pastries, and high-fat dairy products, you’re more likely to be anxious and depressed. A diet full of whole fiber-rich grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish can help keep you on a more even keel.

We all love them, and little treats now and then can help your mood. But just so you know: Doughnuts have all the wrong kinds of fats, snow-white flour with little fiber to slow absorption, and lots of added sugar. So, if you must, make them a treat, not a routine.


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American Academy of Neurology: “Hold the Diet Soda? Sweetened Drinks Linked to Depression, Coffee Tied to Lower Risk."

American Heart Association: “The Skinny on Fats.”

American Journal of Public Health: “Reducing Childhood Obesity by Eliminating 100% Fruit Juice.

Association for Psychological Science: “Moderate Doses of Alcohol Increase Social Bonding in Groups.”

British Journal of Psychiatry: “Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age.”

Case Reports in Psychiatry : “Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Hypoglycemia Symptoms Improved with Diet Modification.”

CDC: “Alcohol and Public Health.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Avoid These 10 Foods Full of Trans Fats.” “What Fruit Juice Can People With Diabetes Drink?” “Sweetened beverages and diabetes.”

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: “Direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain.”

Harvard Health Publishing: “Carbohydrates -- Good or Bad for You?”

Harvard School of Public Health: “Drinking coffee may decrease depression risk in women.”


Journal of Caffeine Research: “Caffeine Withdrawal and Dependence: A Convenience Survey Among Addiction Professionals.

Mayo Clinic: “Generalized anxiety disorder: Is it true that certain foods worsen anxiety and others have a calming effect?”

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: “Energy Drinks.”

PLoS One: “Sweetened Beverages, Coffee, and Tea and Depression Risk among Older US Adults,” “Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Depression: The SUN Project.”

Psychiatric Quarterly: “Neurologic and Psychiatric Manifestations of Celiac Disease and Gluten Sensitivity.”

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service.

Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism: “Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.”

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SAMHSA’s National Helpline | SAMHSA

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  • SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.

    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

Also visit the online treatment locator, or send your zip code via text message: 435748 (HELP4U) to find help near you. Read more about the HELP4U text messaging service.

The service is open 24/7, 365 days a year.

English and Spanish are available if you select the option to speak with a national representative. Currently, the 435748 (HELP4U) text messaging service is only available in English.

In 2020, the Helpline received 833,598 calls. This is a 27 percent increase from 2019, when the Helpline received a total of 656,953 calls for the year.

The referral service is free of charge. If you have no insurance or are underinsured, we will refer you to your state office, which is responsible for state-funded treatment programs. In addition, we can often refer you to facilities that charge on a sliding fee scale or accept Medicare or Medicaid. If you have health insurance, you are encouraged to contact your insurer for a list of participating health care providers and facilities.

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  • Suggested Resources

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    It's Not Your Fault (NACoA) (PDF | 12 KB)
    Assures teens with parents who abuse alcohol or drugs that, "It's not your fault!" and that they are not alone. Encourages teens to seek emotional support from other adults, school counselors, and youth support groups such as Alateen, and provides a resource list.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

Diet for depression - Diets - Homemade

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It has been proven that there is a connection between nutrition and bad mood. So what foods are antidepressants? nine0011

23 Feb 2022 Author: Polina Borodina

According to statistics, every sixth person on the planet suffers from depression. And in the spring of people with a depressed mood becomes even more. Scientists have proven that the foods we eat affect the processes that occur in the brain. Some of them cheer up, while others, on the contrary, are able to spoil it, suppressing joyful emotions. nine0015

Signs of depression:
  1. Constant feeling of tiredness and drowsiness.
  2. Early awakening and feeling unwell in the morning.
  3. Reduced sexual desire.
  4. Complete lack of appetite or overeating.
  5. Anger at the whole world.
  6. Panic fear without any reason.
  7. Feeling of one's powerlessness and inability to change anything in one's life. nine0004
  8. It becomes difficult to concentrate.
  9. Causeless tears.

In a period of decline in vitality, the diet should be as complete as possible. It should contain vitamins, and minerals, and proteins, and carbohydrates, as well as fat. Deficiency of any nutrient has been proven to undermine our body.

If there is a deficiency of folic acid in the body , then you cannot avoid a bad and depressed mood. Folic acid in the brain is involved in metabolism serotonin . If fatigue has piled on, eat a piece of dark chocolate or banana - these products are recognized as the best antidepressants. If tired, eat a banana

Greens , lettuce , spinach , cabbage , lemons , lentils - these products contain a large amount of folic acid.

Greens, lettuce, spinach, cabbage are high in folic acid

In the process of synthesis of serotonin, in addition to folic acid, vitamin B6 takes part . By including foods rich in vitamin B6 in your diet, you will help your body fight the signs of depression. And vitamin B6 acts as a tranquilizer and promotes good sleep. The following foods make up for the lack of this vitamin: bananas , 9.

Shrimps, salmon, tuna make up for the lack of vitamin B6

Recent medical studies have shown that excessive consumption of sweets increases depression. Do not forget about the healing vitamin C , together with vitamin B-6 and folic acid, it helps the body fight blues and bad mood. A large amount of vitamin C is found in Black currants , sea buckthorn , kiwi , citrus fruits , garlic , onions , celery , red pepper , spinach , in the fruits of the cheesecum .

Kiwi and citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C

Vitamin D also increases the level of serotonin in the blood. Scientists from the University of Toronto noticed that people who suffered from depression experienced relief as soon as summer came, because vitamin D is produced by exposure to sunlight. nine0011

Adding "healthy" foods to the diet helps to normalize the release of endorphins. Some plants contain phytohormones - substances that are similar in composition and action to human hormones. "Happy hormones" endorphins are produced not only for chocolate, but also for oats. After all, "Hercules" contains tryptophan in excess. So the tradition of the British to start the day with oatmeal makes some sense!

Alexey Kovalkov

nutritionist, host of the programs "Food by the rules and without", "Family size"

Products recognized as antidepressants:
  1. Fatty fish that contain Omega-3 and seafood

  2. Poultry meat

  3. Lean red meat (baked, boiled, stewed)

  4. Eggs

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  5. Milk and dairy products

  6. Vegetables, fruits and berries (frozen can be used)

  7. Legumes (peas, lentils and beans)

  8. Nuts and dried fruit

  9. Dark chocolate, strawberries, bananas

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Approximate diet for someone who has shown signs of depression:

First day

Breakfast – apple baked with cottage cheese, toast with fish caviar, tea with milk.
Second breakfast – bread with cereals with berry jam, cottage cheese.
Lunch - stew with vegetables, a cup of chicken broth, a slice of brown bread, a cup of herbal tea.
Afternoon snack - a cup of cocoa or a slice of dark chocolate.
Dinner - steamed fish with herbs and lemon sauce, boiled vegetables, black bread, St. John's wort tea. nine0199 Before going to bed - banana.

Second day

Breakfast - soft-boiled egg (or scrambled eggs), toast with fruit jam, green tea.
Second breakfast - kiwi with a piece of cheese.
Lunch - mushroom and cream soup, salad with chicken and vegetables, a glass of fruit juice.
Snack - banana and yogurt.
Dinner - baked salmon with herbs, vegetable salad, St. John's wort herb tea. nine0015

Third day

Breakfast - toast with liver pate, oatmeal, tea with milk.
Second breakfast – cottage cheese casserole, banana.
Lunch - creamy chicken soup, fresh vegetable salad, green tea.
Snack – cup of yoghurt with honey and hazelnuts, juice.
Dinner - bean and boiled beet salad, St. John's wort tea.

Article tags

Nutrition for depression - what to eat for neurosis

How to eat with neuroses? In this article, we have compiled recommendations based on the latest research by scientists. We choose products for a good mood.

Doctor's consultation

You can get the consultation of the necessary specialist online in the Doctis app


You can undergo a comprehensive examination of all major body systems nine0011

In everyday life, depression is called a depressed, joyless state, which many people have against the background of problems at work and at home. However, it may be a sign of a serious neurotic disorder that requires doctor's treatment. According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people in the world live with depression. Unfortunately, the line between "everyday" depression and neurosis can be crossed imperceptibly for oneself. Therefore so It is important to maintain the health of your nervous system with the help of food. The benefit of including them in the diet in depression is available to everyone. What are these products? nine0011

Products for depression. How to improve nutrition in depression?


Researchers from the Aikan School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (Israel) found two substances in it - dehydrocaffeic acid and malvidin-3-O-glucoside. “They simultaneously suppress the peripheral inflammation in the brain and modulate the plasticity of synapses (the point of contact between two neurons), explained Prof. Dr. med. Giulio Maria Pasinetti. — They can effectively help treat and protect against stress-induced depression.” nine0011

Turkey, tuna, chicken

Nutrition for depression and neurosis must necessarily include animal products rich in the amino acid tyrosine. There is an opinion that there is a lot of tyrosine in cheese, but in fact, cheese is inferior listed products by tyrosine content. This amino acid is required by the body for the synthesis of three neurotransmitters: serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. In combination, these three substances are responsible in number other things for mood, cheerfulness, feeling energetic and successful. Tyrosine also prevents the syndrome chronic fatigue and dementia. nine0011

Liver, heart (beef, chicken, pork)

These foods are extremely important against depression because rich in vitamin B12. “Until now, the only officially recognized deficiency disorder vitamin B12 was megaloblastic anemia, explains Mary Diane Delva, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at Kingston University. “It is now becoming clear that many neurological and mental symptoms can also be caused by a deficiency of this substance. For example, wobbly movements, muscle weakness, spasms, dementia, psychosis and depression. Moreover, these disorders occur when the level of vitamin B12 is only slightly below the norm, which is much higher than the level at which anemia begins. nine0011

Cocoa powder and dark chocolate

Cocoa beans contain a group of polyphenols that reduce anxiety and calm. This was confirmed by the study Center for Human Psychopharmacology at Swinburne University in Melbourne (Australia). True instant cocoa chocolate paste and milk chocolate against depression are not helpers - they only cheer you up products with a high content of natural cocoa. So, 40 g of dark chocolate contains the same polyphenols useful for the nervous system, like just 10 g of cocoa powder, from which it is brewed drink. nine0011

Cabbage and lettuce

They are rich in folic acid, which is required by the brain to produce the already mentioned serotonin. Her deficiency in food can lead to a decrease in mood, chronic fatigue and other signs of depression. “Folic acid reduces the level of homocysteine ​​in the blood,” recalls Joy Bauer, popularizer healthy eating and author of the book "Food heals". “This, among other things, improves memory.”

nine0010 As you already understood, foods against depression not only fight neurosis, but in general improve brain function.

Treatment of depression with fasting

Also available method of treating depression by fasting. It is carried out in a hospital clinic from several days to 3 weeks. The course also includes massage, walks, bowel cleansing and water treatments. Fasting in depression has the effect of therapeutic biological stress: without meals, the body "tunes" for survival, mobilizes. This also applies to the nervous system. Opponents of the method point out that fasting works only in the initial stages of depression.

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