Bipolar Diet: Foods To Eat And Avoid (2023)

Making a few changes to your diet is one potential way to help manage manic or depressive episodes. Although foods won’t cure bipolar disorder, choosing the right ones may make you feel well and help you better handle your condition.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition marked by shifts in mood, such as varying highs (known as mania) and lows (known as depression). In this article, we shall look at the foods to eat and avoid with a view to a bipolar diet.

Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by mood disturbances that affect thoughts, feelings, and behavior. These include varying lows (known as depression) and highs (known as mania or hypomania).1 Among U.S. adults, by some estimates, 4.4% will develop bipolar disorder at some point in their lives.


Mood episodes can be managed with stabilizing medicines and therapy. In addition, a potential way to help manage mood changes is through a change in diet. Eating the right foods may help those living with bipolar disorder feel better.

Foods to Eat

Whole grains

Eating whole grains has been shown to increase your body’s serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates various activities in the body including mood, behavior, and memory. Serotonin has been shown to be important in regulating a healthy sleeping pattern and reducing anxiety.

Some examples of whole grains include:

  • Barley
  • Brown rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Bulgur (cracked wheat)
  • Millet
  • Oatmeal
  • Quinoa
  • Whole-grain bread, pasta, or crackers.

Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The results of the research that looked at the effectiveness of a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids in the management of bipolar disorder have been mixed. More studies need to be conducted in order to understand whether omega-3s can be used as an adjunctive form of treatment for bipolar disorder and other mental health conditions.

Although the research has been inconsistent, omega-3s have been shown to have several benefits for your body and your brain and may help in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease, protection against inflammation, peripheral artery disease, and major coronary events. Therefore, it can still be beneficial to include these in your diet.

Some foods sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

  • Salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Eggs
  • Flaxseed
  • Chia seed
  • Walnuts

Foods Rich in Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that supports brain health, the immune system, fertility, and other bodily processes. Those low in selenium have been shown to have a higher risk of depression, anxiety, and decreased cognition.

Some food sources of selenium include:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Sardines
  • Ham
  • Shrimp
  • Brown rice
  • Eggs
  • Whole grain bread

Foods Rich in Tryptophan

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that helps your body make serotonin, which is important in regulating mood, anxiety, and sleep, among other functions.

Some food sources of tryptophan include:

  • Turkey
  • Milk
  • Chicken
  • Tofu
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Canned tuna
  • Oats
  • Nuts and seeds

Foods Rich in Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in several bodily processes such as muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and blood glucose control. Magnesium has been shown to have some mood-stabilizing properties.

Some food sources of magnesium include:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Almonds
  • Spinach
  • Cashews
  • Peanuts
  • Soymilk
  • Black beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Lima beans



Probiotics are live microorganisms such as bacteria and yeast that are naturally present in fermented foods and may be added to other food products.

Research has shown that incorporating probiotics into a diet can have an anti-inflammatory effect and could potentially benefit our gut-brain axis. One study showed that probiotic supplementation helped prevent rehospitalization in patients recently discharged following hospitalization with mania.

Some food with probiotics include:

  • Kefir (fermented milk drink)
  • Yogurt
  • Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage)
  • Kimchi (fermented Korean cabbage dish)
  • Miso (fermented soybean paste)
  • Kombucha (fermented tea)
  • Pickles
  • Raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar

Foods to Avoid


Caffeine is a central nervous system stimulant that has many effects on the body. Drinking coffee and tea are common ways people consume caffeine.

Consuming too much caffeine has been associated with increased sleep problems and exacerbation of anxiety disorders. Specifically, caffeine can cause your body to mimic the symptoms of anxiety such as increased heart rate, restlessness, nervousness, digestive issues, and sleep problems.

Therefore, it is best to avoid or limit the consumption of caffeine in a bipolar diet.


Alcohol is a depressant that can negatively affect your mood. Most psychiatric medications state that users should not consume alcohol as it can interfere with their effectiveness.

Alcohol has been shown to be a trigger for depressive episodes. Alcohol use disorder has been shown to have an adverse effect on the course and prognosis of bipolar disorder as it makes it harder to treat and leads to more frequent hospitalizations.


Highly Processed Foods

Highly processed foods are foods that contain few nutrients but are high in calories, sugar, fat, and salt. Typically, additives and thickeners are added to enhance the flavor and improve the texture of the food. Some examples include potato chips, ice cream, sugary drinks, candy, french fries, cookies, cakes, muffins, and doughnuts.

A diet high in processed carbohydrates may be associated with an increased risk of depression and anxiety.18

In addition, eating too many high-fat and high-sugar foods can cause excess caloric intake and weight gain.19 Being overweight has been shown to decrease the effectiveness of bipolar disorder treatment.

Foods That Contain Tyramine

Tyramine is an amino acid that naturally occurs in the body and is found in some foods. It helps regulates blood pressure.

Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are a type of medication that is sometimes used to treat depression in bipolar disorder. MAOIs inhibit monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that cleans out excess tyramine in the body. Therefore, a diet high in tyramine can cause a sudden increase in blood pressure leading to potentially severe health complications. Those on MAOIs should avoid foods that contain tyramine.

Some examples of foods rich in tyramine include:

  • Aged cheeses such as cheddar, Swiss, Camembert, blue, stilton, and gorgonzola
  • Cured, processed, and smoked meats
  • Fava beans, broad beans, snow peas, and most soybean products
  • Dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, and prunes.
  • Fermented and pickled foods such as sauerkraut, pickles, pickled vegetables, miso, and kimchi.
  • Fish sauce, soy sauce, and fermented bean curd (tofu)
  • Marmite and Vegemite
  • Beer on tap and unpasteurized or home-brewed beers
  • Protein supplements that have any form of tyramine in their ingredient list


Consuming grapefruit can interfere with the body’s ability to break down certain medications. It can cause serious side effects because the medication is metabolized slower and causes an increased level of it in your blood.

It’s important to talk to your doctor about your medications before eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice.

Incorporating certain foods and reducing the intake of others may be worth considering as part of your overall treatment plan for managing your bipolar disorder.

A change in diet may not cure your mental health condition but may help you feel better and improve your overall well-being.

I hope you find this article helpful.

About the Author

A Public Speaker and Freelancer who is Interested in Writing articles relating to Personal Development, Love and Marriage.

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