Mother Earth Living

Natural Health

Better living through nature

Add to My MSN

5 Foods to Avoid for Your Mental Health

4/22/2014 11:38:00 AM

Tags: Foods to Avoid, Mental Health, Brain Foods, Juliana Weiss-Roessler

Bad news for people who reach for processed foods when they’re in a rush or feeling down: those “guilty pleasure” foods may not be bringing you as much pleasure as you think. Although sugary or carb-heavy foods might provide some instant gratification, they can end up doing more harm than good in the long run. Here are 5 foods that you should steer away from—or at least eat in moderation—in order to avoid getting into a mental slump.

French Fries
Photo by Fotolia/neirfy

French Fries (and Other Foods Full of Saturated Fat)

It’s all too easy to give in to the lure of French fries, especially if you feel like you don’t have time to cook and have kids who are clamoring for fast food. Unfortunately, French fries are high in saturated fat, which is difficult for your body to digest. As your body works to digest those fries, you may find yourself feeling dull and sluggish for the rest of the day—and that’s just the short-term effect. A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found evidence suggesting that women who consume the highest amount of saturated fat have worse cognitive functioning and memory over time.

Bagels (and Other High-Carb Breakfast Foods)

A fresh bagel with cream cheese might be a delicious occasional treat, but it’s not something you should eat for breakfast every morning. High carbohydrate breakfast foods like bagels, pancakes, and French toast increase your levels of tryptophan, that same chemical in turkey that makes you feel sleepy after your Thanksgiving dinner. In fact, researchers at MIT found that people who eat a carb-filled breakfast have tryptophan levels four times higher after two hours than those who eat a protein-filled breakfast. If you’ve been feeling low on energy lately, your breakfast might be the culprit.

Hot Dog
Photo by Fotolia/arska n

Hot Dogs

Packaged meats like hot dogs and sliced deli meat may make for a convenient lunch, but they also contain nitrates, which have been linked to migraines, low moods, and swollen ankles (which might just put you in a worse mood). Nitrates can be found in basically all manufactured meat because they’re a preservative used to keep that meat fresh, so try to avoid these products or at least look for versions that are labeled as nitrate-free.


This one should go without saying, but I’m still going to mention it because of the numerous negative effects alcohol can have on your mental health. While a couple of drinks might create positive feelings for a little while, it’s important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and may be particularly harmful when regularly used by someone who already has issues with anxiety, depression, or impulsivity. Alcohol interferes with the processes of memory, may disrupt normal sleep patterns, and can even lead to rebound anxiety after initial relaxation, just to name a few of the negative effects.

Cookies and Other Sweets

Eat a handful of Oreos or a cupcake and you might feel a temporary boost in your mood, but that feeling will be short-lived. When you “crash” after this initial sugar rush, you’ll experience a dip in your mood and may crave more sweet foods to make up for that dip. This obviously creates a vicious cycle, so don’t get it started in the first place. Eating fruit is a good way to get the sugar you need without the crash and burn effect.

The good news is that while certain foods may dampen your mood, other foods can actually help improve it. As mentioned above, fresh fruits are a good choice, as are vegetables, fish, and healthy snacks like unsalted almonds. A healthy, balanced diet can help you feel more alert and ready to tackle your day.

Juliana Weiss Roessler

Juliana Weiss-Roessler is a freelance writer and mom who co-owns the business Weiss-Roessler Writing with her husband. She frequently writes about how to minimize your impact on the environment.

Related Content

Natural Tips on How to Avoid Mosquitoes

With a little know-how, you can avoid mosquito bites this summer.

6 Ways Eating Healthy Can Help You Ace Exams

Guest blogger Marcela De Vivo shares six ways that eating healthy can help you ace your exams.

Exercising Outside Makes You Happier

Exercising outside, close to nature, makes you happier than exercising inside, according to a study ...

Drink Beet Juice for Better Brain Health

Drinking beet juice increases blood flow to the brain, which can help prevent dementia.

Content Tools

Post a comment below.


7/16/2014 4:14:38 AM
Foods that are spicy in nature and contained oil are well known as junk foods. These junk foods are always affect the growth of mental health. I always hate to eat these foods, thanks for the good stuff, really informative. Read about the healthy foods that enhance mental strength and good for your brain.

Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.