Is There A Recommended “Bipolar Diet?”
Updated February 24, 2020
Reviewer Debra Halseth, LCSW
Suffering from bipolar disorder is very tough. It can be difficult to get through everyday life responsibilities when you're experiencing the highs and lows of bipolar disorder. During depressive periods, it might even be difficult to get out of bed. Depending on the severity of your bipolar disorder, you might wind up feeling as if you can't do the things that you once loved to do. It can be frustrating for both you and those who love you.
Luckily, bipolar disorder is something that can be managed with medication and therapy. There are different types of bipolar disorder, and each variant has its intricacies. This isn't something that you can cure, but it is something that can be managed. There are even people out there who swear that they're able to manage their bipolar disorder symptoms by eating a special diet.
Several people who have bipolar disorder have become curious about this so-called "bipolar diet" lately. Some individuals suggest that eating a specific diet is going to eliminate or reduce the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Is this too good to be true, or is there something to these claims? Read on to get the information that you need to decide for yourself.
There Is No Clinical Evidence For A "Bipolar Diet" Being Effective
Firstly, it's crucial for you to understand that there is absolutely no clinical evidence to suggest that a "bipolar diet" can work as an effective treatment for the condition. It's important to have realistic expectations, and you don't want to get your hopes up by thinking that this can be your magical solution. The people who claim that diet changes have helped their bipolar disorder symptoms could be right in some way, but it doesn't mean that it's a good treatment for bipolar disorder. To truly understand this, you have to dig a little deeper.
There are people out there who claim to have different "bipolar diets" that will help reduce symptoms. One of the most common diets that are used for this is known as "keto." The ketogenic diet involves eliminating virtually all carbohydrates from your diet. Your body normally burns carbohydrates for energy, but it will start burning fat instead when there are no carbohydrates present.
A low carbohydrate diet like this does have the potential to change your body and brain. It wouldn't even be unusual for something like this to boost your mood. Logically, you can understand how losing weight and getting into better shape might increase your positive feelings. The ketogenic diet has a lot of potentials when it comes to helping people to boost their mood. It just hasn't gone through any clinical trials about bipolar disorder or even depression.
That being said, you can consider a ketogenic diet, something that can have some positive benefits. It isn't something that you should avoid, but it shouldn't be seen as a replacement for traditional bipolar disorder treatments. There are foods out there that can help to improve or stabilize your mood. They might not work by themselves to treat bipolar disorder completely. Regardless, it can be good to partake in these foods to help improve your mood and to promote good health.
Potential Foods That Can Help Bipolar Disorder
Now that you understand that there isn't a "bipolar diet" that can act as a replacement for traditional treatment, you can look into some foods that might be helpful. There are many different types of foods that might be beneficial for you to eat more often. Take a look at these and consider whether you can add them into your diet.
Healthy fats should become a part of your diet. They're good for you, and they help you to avoid craving foods that are worse for you. Start cooking with olive oil and try to eat more avocados. It'll help to make a bit of a difference, and you'll start to see some benefits.
Fruits And Vegetables
You probably expected that fruits and vegetables would be good to eat. Try to replace the processed foods in your diet with more fruits and vegetables. This can increase your energy and make you feel healthier overall. Aside from this, it's also recommended due to helping to cure a sweet tooth. Eating fruits such as bananas or strawberries will work nicely when you're craving a tasty snack, and it'll be a lot better for you.
Just remember to get dietary advice from your doctor. There are certain fruits, such as grapefruits, that have been known to cause problems with a few bipolar medications. It might not be an issue for you, but it's still a good idea to check with your family physician before proceeding.
Omega-3 Fatty Acid
It's possible that you've heard of the benefits of eating omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids can be found in different types of fish. You can also take fish oil supplements to enjoy the benefits. They can help with your mood; they're easy to fit into your diet safely. Even if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you'll be able to eat nuts to get some Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Foods To Avoid
There are also going to be many foods and substances that you should avoid when you have bipolar disorder. Some of these things should be avoided due to potential negative interactions with your medications. Others are just bad for your overall health. Read through this list of foods to avoid to get the details.
Alcohol is one of the worst things that you could consume when you have bipolar disorder. Firstly, alcohol can negatively interact with antidepressants and other medications that you might be taking. It can also disrupt your sleeping patterns and throw your bipolar disorder into turmoil. This is something that you want to avoid when you have bipolar disorder, so try not to drink at all if you can help it.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and this can wind up, causing those with bipolar disorder to enter a manic state. This can make your mania periods feel more pronounced, and this is not going to be a good thing. Caffeine should be consumed only in limited amounts to keep things safe. You might even want to switch over to decaffeinated coffee just to be on the safe side.
Many types of soda, coffee, and tea are available in non-caffeinated versions. These drinks aren't necessarily good for you, but you can indulge in them sometimes by buying the non-caffeinated variety. It's not worth making your mania periods worse just because you wanted to have some coffee, tea or a few sodas. Keep your caffeine intake in mind to keep yourself safe.
Sugar should also be limited when you want to promote good health. It's possible for sugar to cause your mood to become more unstable. It gives you a quick boost of energy, but then you wind up crashing soon after. This can be dangerous when you're having problems with a depressive state as someone who has bipolar disorder.
There's also the fact that eating too many sugary snacks will simply be bad for you. Too much sugar can lead to issues such as diabetes, and it can contribute to weight gain. Sugar can be eaten occasionally, but you need to be able to do so responsibly. Avoid sugar most of the time and only use it as a special treat.
If you're worried about your health, then you should limit your intake of refined carbohydrates. This includes a lot of processed foods and types of junk food. It probably isn't a shocker to hear that this type of food can be bad for your condition. Eating too many refined carbs can lead to obesity and might even deepen depression during depressive states of your bipolar disorder.
Remember The Importance Of Therapy
Don't forget that therapy is going to be an important part of treating bipolar disorder. Having bipolar disorder is going to be tough, and you're going to have some difficult days. When you have a therapist that you can rely on, it makes it a lot easier to get through everything okay. A skilled therapist can work with you to help you manage your condition properly.
Taking the time to sign up for therapy doesn't have to be difficult either. You can sign up for online therapy to have the most convenient experience possible. Online therapy is just like traditional therapy except that it puts the power in your hands. You're able to choose the times that you need to seek therapy, and you don't have to be concerned with normal office hours.
You can be matched up with a licensed therapist that will be able to help you out. They can work with you to help you manage your symptoms. They'll be able to teach you the best coping mechanisms, and they can even work through issues that are holding you back. Treatment like this helps a lot, and it's good to be able to know that you have people on your side who care.
A diet alone is not going to be enough to treat bipolar disorder effectively. You need the right combination of medication and therapy to manage the condition in the best way possible. Online therapy makes it easy to reach out to get the therapy that you need. It's an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating bipolar disorder, so don't wait to reach out if you need assistance.