Burger King isn’t going to make you suicidal, at least I don’t think so. And funnel cakes at the beach might not make you bawl right there on the boardwalk.
But too much of some of this stuff and you may become unlikeable, to yourself and to everyone around you. A mound of research shows that what we consume goes right to our limbic systems, the emotional headquarters of our body.
If we feed it crap, we will feel like crap. If we treat it like the Cadillac we borrowed for the night, it will return the kindness.
Here are seven foods to try to avoid.
1. Refined sugar
A Milky Way sure does taste good going down and can provide us that pleasant rush of energy for 20 minutes; however, that treat and all refined sugar causes our blood glucose levels to plummet, resulting in a sugar hangover that disrupts our mood, depletes our energy, and is linked to sleep disorders.
2. Artificial sweeteners
Aspartame is bad stuff. Especially if you are prone to depression. It blocks the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and causes mood dips, headaches, and insomnia. The artificial sweeters NutraSweet or Equal could also be bad news as well. If you really need a soda fix, go for the fully leaded. The refined sugar, while not health food, is better for you than the fake kind. (Splenda appears safe for now.)
3. Processed food
Consuming refined or processed carbohydrates — such as white bread, cereal, pasta, or snack foods — is going to cause the same impact on your blood sugar levels as eating a basket of jelly beans. Bagels are processed the same way donuts are. After the initial insulin boost, you will end up fatigued, irritated, and blue.
4. Hydrogenated oils
As if I haven’t already eliminated everything you eat, here is one more. Stay away from the fried chicken, the fried cheese sticks, fried calamari, and, ouch, French fries. Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contains trans fats could potentially contribute to depression. Also watch out for saturated fats, found in animal products such as deli meats, high-fat dairy, butter, etc. They can clog arteries and prevent blood flow to the brain.
5. Foods high in sodium
Fat-free foods might be good for your waistline but not all that great for your emotions. The excess sodium in these products can disrupt your neurological system, contributing to depression, and can muck up your immune system response, causing fatigue. Too much salt also leads to fluid retention and bloating, and I don’t have to tell you how depressing that is.
Alcohol is a [central nervous system] depressant. ‘Nuf said. If you have a history of a mood disorder, proceed with extreme caution. Your central nervous system is responsible for taking in information through the senses, controlling motor function, as well as thinking, understanding, and reasoning. It also controls emotion. Alcohol slows all this down, exacerbating symptoms associated with depression.
According to some experts, even a modest amount of caffeine can contribute to depression and anxiety. Caffeine disrupts sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep; those disturbances affect mood. It can cause agitation, tremors, and nervousness. Energy drinks, particularly, are bad news as some of them contain the caffeine equivalent of 14 cans of soda.