Battling Depression: What should a Bipolar not Eat?

  • 26 January 2016
  • Petra_1

As a bipolar, one thing that I soon learned was that my diet greatly influences my mood. Few people know that certain foods can improve or worsen our mental state. And the fact that bipolars often gain weight because of their medication, is one more reason that we follow a healthy diet.

Recently, studies have shown that about 3-4% of the population in the States suffers from severe Bipolar Disorder symptoms. For most of these people, life swinging between mania and depression is very difficult to handle, and very few of them get enough medical and mental support to make it through. 

Foods to Avoid

One of the usual concerns I see bipolars like me dealing with every day is the problem of weight gain. Bipolar medications affect the body metabolism so much that our  appetite increases to no end. Without a proper regulation on what we eat, it is a tough battle for us to climb. This is why it is important to know what types of food we should stay away from:

  • Western Type of Diet: This diet is rich in red meat and refined simple carbs (sugars). It has a lot of trans-fat and saturated fats. While this does not directly affect our mood, it can lead to obesity. This can create a severe health problem as it might lead to Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, and heart attack.
  • Food with high sodium content : Try to lower the amount of sodium that you consume every day. However, care should be taken to ensure that the level of sodium intake is not too low in case the patient is taking lithium as a part of the prescribed Bipolar medication. Low salt may increase the levels of lithium in the blood.
  • Alcohol: The September 2015 Issue of Journal Psychiatric Research stated that even alcohol can be dangerous to people with Bipolar Disorder. Alcohol can have a highly negative effect on mood swings, and may even react badly with lithium, which is a common medicine most Bipolars take. Records show that a lot of Bipolars can abuse alcohol easily, leading to their quick demise.
  • Caffeine: The amount of caffeine intake should also be moderated. The National Sleep Foundation has found that caffeine can cause irritability and anxiety in patients. High levels of caffeine could trigger mood swings. It is also advised that bipolar patients do not consume coffee or anything caffeinated just before sleep.
  • Food with high sugar content.: If you have a sweet tooth, eat only fruits. High sugar levels can cause obesity, which in turn will meddle with the Bipolar Disorder treatments and render them useless. 
  • Grapefruit: It’s possible that grapefruit juice increases the concentration of certain bipolar medications in the blood. Therefore, if you like grapefruit juice talk to your doctor.

Foods to Eat

  • Fish Oil: It is believed that fish oil plays a role in brain function and can be helpful for those with bipolar disorder. One study found that omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil prevent depression in bipolar disorder.
  • Eat nutrient dense foods such as legumes, whole grains, lean meats.

Being on a strict diet to deal with the symptoms of Bipolar Disorder can be disheartening for a lot of people. A lot of time, we do end up cheating on our diet and it always goes downhill from there. This is why I always recommend using an effective weight management program (like Weight Watchers, which takes into account our likes, cravings, and love for food)  that can moderate our eating lifestyle and keep us structured. One diet program that I endorse is Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem delivers food to your door. The food is healthy and it's designed by doctors. More in this link.

Consider a Raw Diet

Tonya overcame manic depression thanks to the raw diet.


Say no to Junk food

Focus on eating fresh ingredients and a lot of vegetables. Junk food should also be avoided at all cost, since they contain a lot of unhealthy elements which will do nothing to keep us fit. What we eat reflects our character, and we should always favor organic, non-GMO sourced food that will keep our body detoxified. 

The most important thing here is to visualize our goals and what we can do when we succeed in meeting them. This picture alone will keep us motivated and strong. After all, every treatment needs a dash of optimism to work.