Accredited practicing dietitian Chloe McLeod shares a short list of the foods she would cut out, if you’re looking to boost your mood.

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Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues experienced in Australia, with two million Australians dealing with anxiety annually. Despite stress and pressure, research suggests that what you put in your body can impact your mood – adversely, or otherwise. Here are the top four foods I recommend clients avoid.


It is well known that coffee is linked with increased anxiety, especially if it’s consumed in excess. Coffee is a stimulant that impacts our nervous system and while it can be great tool to help keep us alert, too much (or if you are a particularly sensitive individual) can result in poor sleep and heart palpitations, which can thus lead to an increased risk of anxiety. Coffee intake should be taken on a case-by-case basis, but my recommendation is no more than three cups a day, and all before 2pm.


Contrary to coffee, alcohol is a depressant, which significantly impacts our mood. After a few glasses of wine, we often associate the feelings of increased confidence and lack of inhibition, however it’s the impact that alcohol has on the body over time that can lead to anxiety. The day after a big night out is when anxiety is most likely to hit. Alcohol has been shown to impact the nervous system and the levels of important neurotransmitters in the brain, like serotonin (the happy hormone). Increased heart rate and the associated dehydration can often make your anxiety feel worse than it might be.

RELATED: Hangxiety: the mourning after the night before

Consuming foods we’re intolerant to

Consuming foods we are intolerant to can greatly impact anxiety. Amine and salicylate intolerances are known to impact mood, so if you are concerned, book an appointment with your GP who will be able to recommend a specialist and advise an appropriate treatment plan. Eating high FODMAP when intolerant to them may increase anxiety as well, particularly due to the gut-brain relationship. Whilst these foods don’t need to be eliminated entirely, determining your individual tolerance level is important. It’s recommended to work with a dietitian experienced in this area for assistances with this.

Foods that are high in fat or sugar

Research has shown these foods may have a negative impact on our gut health, which is strongly linked with mental health issues. Eating poor nutrient quality foods is likely to impact your mood, and can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels.

Eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables and fruits, lean protein, wholegrains and plenty of water is best for managing anxiety, helping keep you healthy, and performing at your best.

If you, or anyone you know might be suffering from anxiety or mental health issues, contact Lifeline on 13 11 44. In an emergency, call 000. If you think your diet is adversely affecting your health, book an appointemnt with your GP who will be able to advise a correct treatment plan.

Chloe McLeod is an accredited practicing dietitian. For more from Chloe, head here.

November 28, 201612:48pm

nutrition | body+soul

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