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3 foods to avoid when you have anxiety

Diet has a big effect on how we feel. When we eat the wrong stuff, we feel like crap. Here are some foods to avoid.


Sugar is not all bad. However, most adults in the western world eat too much of it.

Sugar is high in calories but low in nutrients. Therefore, it is easy to consume too many calories, and therefore gain weight, while at the same time being malnourished.

Why is it bad?

Sugar is absorbed very quickly into the bloodstream1. This leads you to an initial high, which is why eating a chocolate bar feels good, to begin with.

However, it also leads to you having a low when this initial high wears off. This can cause your mood to fluctuate.

In comparison, food that releases energy slowly will, therefore, give you constant energy, avoiding these mood swings.

What does the evidence say?

A study by the University of Melbourne found that eating sugar was associated with higher levels of depression in women2.


Fried food

The term "friend food" typically refers to food that has been deep fried. Like fried chicken, for example. Let's face it, it tastes amazing. But your body will not thank you in the long run.

Why is it bad?

It's all substance and no good stuff. Deep frying food does not lock in the goodness, contrary to what we might want to believe.

It's low in the stuff we need like Omega fatty acids and vitamins. So, you soon fill up without getting any of the important nutrients you need.

What does the evidence say?

Eating fried food is correlated with higher levels of depression3. A study by the University of Melbourne found that eating fried food increased depression in women2.

Junk food

Processed meat

Processed meat is meat that has been modified by methods such as salting, curing and smoking. Processed meat includes bacon, sausages and sandwich meats.

Why is it bad?

Processed meat is bad for your health. This is for a variety of reasons that are not 100% clear. However, much of the processing involves unhealthy things like smoking or curing (which adds a lot of salt).

Eating large amounts of processed meat reduces your life expectancy by 2.4 years4.

What does the evidence say?

Eating processed meat is correlated with higher levels of depression3.

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Published 4 December 2017. Written by Chris Worfolk.

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  1. Mental Health Foundation. Diet and mental health. Link. ↩︎

  2. Jacka FN, Pasco JA, Mykletun A, Williams LJ, Hodge AM, O'Reilly SL, Nicholson GC, Kotowicz MA, Berk M. Association of Western and traditional diets with depression and anxiety in women. Am J Psychiatry. 2010 Mar;167(3):305-11. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2009.09060881. Epub 2010 Jan 4. Link. ↩︎

  3. Akbaraly TN, Brunner EJ, Ferrie JE, Marmot MG, Kivimaki M, Singh-Manoux A. Dietary pattern and depressive symptoms in middle age. Br J Psychiatry. 2009 Nov;195(5):408-13. doi: 10.1192/bjp.bp.108.058925. ↩︎

  4. Kuanrong Li, Anika Hüsing and Rudolf Kaaks. Lifestyle risk factors and residual life expectancy at age 40: a German cohort study. BMC Medicine 2014 12:59. DOI: 10.1186/1741-7015-12-59. Link. ↩︎