The toxic foods are foods that you're going to have to eliminate or eat only sparingly because they are slow-acting poisons, adversely affecting moods, energy levels, and overall sense of well-being. They also cause you to pack on pounds, especially if you're taking antidepressants. What's more, they can interfere with the beneficial effects of your antidepressants.
When you're on antidepressants, sugar is the thing you crave most. It's also the very thing that will rob you of your energy and sense of well-being. Eating foods high in sugar activates an energy-draining process. Let's say you have a bowl of Frosted Flakes or a fruit Danish for breakfast. This high-sugar meal will cause your body to overproduce the hormone insulin, which helps your cells use the high amount of sugar that has entered your bloodstream.
Repetitive high insulin levels reduce your body's ability to recognize the insulin; therefore, your cells can't use the sugar, so it is stored as fat. The insulin itself increases your hunger for carbohydrates-as well as your cortisol levels. You begin to crave a midmorning donut and/or coffee to give you some energy. Before you know it, you've gained weight. Even worse, you're too frequently tired all the time, feeling out of sorts, and always seeking food to give you more energy. You find yourself eating out of tiredness and anxiety, not real hunger.
Not everyone has such a negative response to sweets, but most antidepressants can leave you more susceptible by triggering intense carbohydrate cravings, which set you on the vicious insulin cycle. Paradoxically, the more you feed your cravings, the stronger the cravings will become. Scientists still haven't mapped out the exact mechanism for how antidepressants trigger sugar cravings. It probably has to do with the fact that these drugs affect the appetite centers in the hypothalamus, as well as their long-term effects on certain serotonin receptors.
My prescription for sugar: Elimination of sugar-filled foods from your diet is the only way to banish your cravings for good. After six weeks on the nutrition plan, limit your intake to one serving of dessert each week, and make sure you eat these foods with adequate amounts of protein.
If you're trying to lose fat or improve energy and mental clarity, you must avoid sugar-filled foods altogether. Also, check food labels for hidden sugars such as glucose, maltodextrin, corn syrup, cornstarch, and modified cornstarch. Foods that are sweetened with honey or fruit juice should also be banned. They can contain the same amount of sugar as or even more sugar than products that have the real thing.
Every time you have a cup of java or a Coke, the caffeine triggers a release of the hormone adrenaline, which, among other actions, signals the liver to release sugar into your bloodstream. You get a burst of instant energy from the sugar and adrenaline. But it lasts only two or three hours before you crash. That little energy boost can leave you feeling drained over the long haul. The result? You crave candy bars and cookies, the very foods you're supposed to avoid, to get more quick energy.
Caffeine is highly addictive, and it causes instabilities in your blood sugar, which raise your risk of obesity, diabetes, panic attacks, and even seizures (if you are prone to them). What's more, caffeine stays in your system for about two days, which means it can interfere with the quality of your sleep (which leaves you feeling tired, which causes you to crave caffeine and sugar, and so on). I've also found that some of my patients use caffeine as a substitute for exercise. They figure: Why do a workout if I can get a little boost of energy without the time and effort?