Is There A Recommended “Bipolar Disorder Diet?

Medically reviewed by Bobbi Jo Stoner, LPC
Updated May 17, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

For many, bipolar disorder symptoms can be effectively managed with medication or therapy. However, you may wonder if eating particular foods or eliminating certain items from your diet may help you manage symptoms alongside these methods while maintaining good health and living a healthy lifestyle.

You Don’t Have To Manage Your Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Alone

What Is Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that may cause mood discrepancies. In bipolar disorder, the highs are often referred to as “mania,” and the lows are called “depression.” Not everyone with bipolar disorder experiences full mania or depression. Mood changes in this condition may occur unexpectedly and impact your energy level, judgment, sleep patterns, or decision-making abilities. 

According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, there are several types of bipolar disorder, including the following. 

Bipolar I

Bipolar I is characterized by mania. Those with this condition may also experience depressive episodes or hypomania (a lesser state of mania). Either episode may last days, weeks, months, or years. A bipolar I diagnosis requires at least one manic episode.

Bipolar II 

People living with bipolar II may experience depression and hypomania but do not experience mania. Hypomania may include less severe symptoms related to mania and may be harder to pinpoint. 

Cyclothymic Disorder

Cyclothymic disorder is often considered a mild form of bipolar disorder characterized by high and low moods that may not qualify as mania or major depression. 

What Is The “Bipolar Disorder Diet”?

Some individuals experiencing bipolar disorder may suggest that the ketogenic diet, or “keto diet,” reduces their symptoms. Adhering to the keto diet involves eliminating carbohydrates from your plate, including whole grains. Your body often burns carbohydrates for energy. On the keto diet, it may start burning fat instead, as there are no carbohydrates present.

A no-carbohydrate diet like the ketogenic diet requires you to eat foods high in fat and protein and may impact your physical and mental health. However, benefits could be present in any nutritious diet. 

Studies show that eating nutritious meals and exercising can improve some symptoms of bipolar disorder. However, the ketogenic diet itself hasn’t been investigated through any clinical trials yet. 

More Research May Be Required 

While there is no current clinical evidence to suggest that a “bipolar disorder diet” can effectively treat bipolar disorder, researchers believe, and research suggests it may be a promising treatment intervention for people living with mood disorders in the future. 

Additionally, as of November 2022, Stanford University is completing a full trial to determine whether the ketogenic diet can benefit those with bipolar disorder. A diet may not be a recommended method for treating symptoms until results are concluded. 

Consuming certain foods may help to improve or stabilize your mood. These foods might not treat bipolar disorder but eating them can be a way for you to support your mental and physical health.

Foods That Can Help Improve Mood Symptoms

The following are types of foods that may be beneficial to your mental health. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet as your food may impact your bipolar medication. 

Healthy Fats

While many believe that low fat diet may lead to better overall health, not all fat is bad. Healthy fats containing omega-3 fatty acids, like olive oil, cold water fish like salmon or albacore tuna, nuts, or avocados, may reduce your body’s risk of dietary inflammation. Inflammation often contributes to mood disorders like depression or bipolar disorder.

Fruits And Vegetables

Replacing processed foods with raw fruits and vegetables may benefit your mental and physical health with the added positive effect of reducing your blood pressure. According to research published in Frontiers in Psychology, the ten best raw foods that may improve mood disorders are:

  • Carrots 

  • Apples 

  • Dark leafy greens (like spinach or kale) 

  • Bananas

  • Lettuce 

  • Citrus fruits

  • Grapefruits and grapefruit juice

  • Berries 

  • Cucumbers

  • Kiwis

If you are taking bipolar medications for other psychiatric medications for a mental health disorder, you may want to discuss any dietary changes with your prescribing doctor before trying them.  

Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice or reducing your salt intake, may cause problems with some medications for bipolar disorder, so discuss your diet with your physician before proceeding.

Foods To Avoid For Bipolar Disorder

Additionally, some foods or drinks may interact negatively with your medications for bipolar disorder or cause worsening symptoms. 


Alcohol consumption may be problematic for some people with bipolar disorder. It can negatively interact with antidepressants and other medications that you might be taking, disrupting your sleeping patterns. 

Additionally, as many as 43% of people with bipolar disorder also experience addiction to alcohol or other substances. If you live with bipolar disorder, cutting alcohol out of your diet may be a safe option.


Because people with bipolar disorder may experience mania, it may be valuable to avoid caffeine. Caffeine is a stimulant, so it can cause those with bipolar disorder to switch to a manic, hypomanic, or mixed state

Many types of soda, coffee, and tea are available in non-caffeinated versions, making it easier to consume your preferred beverage without worrying about its effects on your mood.


Research on the relationship between sugar and mental health indicates that sugar intake may negatively impact psychological health. Sugar consumption may be linked to depression, mental health conditions, obesity, diabetes, weight gain, and many other physical health conditions. 

When it comes to people with bipolar disorder, sugar may cause them to feel briefly energized before crashing, which could exacerbate mood swings. Consider eating natural sugars or cutting sugar out of some areas of your diet. 

Refined Carbohydrates

A high-carb diet may negatively impact your mental health as well as your physical health. In one study, mice fed a high-carb diet were more likely to exhibit anxiety or depressive behaviors, even though they didn’t gain weight. Refined carbohydrates are often found in food items like white bread, pasta, rice, and cereal.

You Don’t Have To Manage Your Bipolar Disorder Symptoms Alone

Therapy Is A Proven Treatment For Bipolar Disorder

Some people may take medications for bipolar disorder, while others may be able to manage their symptoms effectively with therapy or a combination of therapy and medications.

As bipolar disorder can cause changing moods and behaviors, you may find it difficult to seek support through traditional methods. If you relate, online therapy could be a convenient and valuable option, as you can attend therapy in your pajamas on the days when you’re feeling depressed. 

Research on bipolar disorder published in JAMA Psychiatry confirms that online therapy may be a clinically meaningful method to treat complex psychiatric disorders, including bipolar disorder. A supportive online therapist can help you get the consistent treatment you need during the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. 


While your diet may impact how you feel physically and emotionally, a “bipolar diet” has not yet been studied through clinical trials to manage the complex experience of living with bipolar disorder.

If you’re looking to start online counseling related to your symptoms of bipolar disorder or another mental health condition, consider signing up for a platform like BetterHelp, which offers a growing platform of professionals.

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