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Feeling exhausted? Lose these foods

By The Health News Team | March 21, 2024
Fried foods on a platter with dips

“You feel as good as the last thing you ate” is a favorite saying of Dr. Darius Schneider, a Sharp Community Medical Group board-certified endocrinologist. That’s because some foods, he says, can cause fatigue and lead to mood disturbances, while others can improve your overall mood and well-being.

According to Dr. Schneider, mood and fatigue are the first casualties of poor nutrition long before your physical health begins to deteriorate. And, unfortunately, the modern American diet consist of lots of poor choices.

“High energy foods that are nutritionally poor don’t provide the body with enough fuel or nutrients to function at its best,” Dr. Schneider says. “Quick fix foods, such as hastily eaten protein bars or caffeinated drinks, only offer a temporary energy boost that quickly wears off and worsens fatigue.”

He recommends limiting the following to feel more energetic and boost your mood:



According to some research, high sugar consumption is linked to a variety of concerns, including:

  • Lower IQ

  • Anxiety

  • Aggressive behavior

  • Hyperactivity

  • Depression

  • Learning difficulty

  • Fatigue

  • Dementia and Alzheimer’s dementia

“Women should consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day,” Dr. Schneider says. “And men should stay under 36 grams.”


High-GI Carbs

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods convert to glucose when broken down during digestion, Dr. Schneider says. The faster a food turns into glucose in the body, the higher its GI ranking.

Diets with a high glycemic index can cause inflammation, leading to symptoms of fatigue and depression. High-GI foods include potatoes white bread and white rice. Low-GI foods include green vegetables, most fruits, raw carrots, kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils.

“Try to replace fried foods with grilled or baked foods,” Dr. Schneider says. “And replace white foods, such as potatoes and rice, with green or colorful foods, such as leafy greens, fruits and vegetables.”


Trans fats

In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that artificial trans fats — unsaturated fatty acids that come from industrial sources — are toxic. “Most sensible countries now ban them,” Dr. Schneider says.

These “fake fats” raise the risk for fatigue and several diseases, including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Consuming too many trans fats can also affect your mood and lead to depression, anxiety, memory problems, irritability and aggression.

“Trans fats are hidden in almost all convenience food and fried foods,” says Dr. Schneider. “If you’re eating fried foods daily, switch to weekly. If it’s a weekly habit, try enjoying them just once a month. If you don’t eat fried foods, you’re already on your way to happier, healthier times.”



Used as a preservative and to enhance color in deli slices and cured meats, such as bacon, salami and sausage, nitrates have been connected with fatigue, low mood and depression. In fact, one recent study suggests nitrates can alter gut bacteria in such a way as to tip the scales toward bipolar disorder.

“If you simply can’t live without salami and sausages, limit their use and look for high quality meats,” Dr. Schneider says. “And use naturally ripened cheese rather than processed cheese.”

Foods that can improve your health and well-being

Foods, Dr. Schneider reports, such as berries, green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and fermented foods combined with plenty of hydration, can have the opposite effect and improve your overall mood and well-being. “Plan your meals and have healthy snacks at hand to avoid mindless eating,” he says.

He also recommends you:

  • Read nutrition labels and question ingredients.

  • Limit caffeine and alcohol use.

  • Avoid sugary drinks and drink water instead.

  • Regularly exercise and limit long periods of sitting.

“Ask yourself how your diet impacts your energy and mood,” Dr. Schneider says. “What are the foods that positively impact your mood and energy levels and vice versa? Then, eat more of the foods that make you feel good and less of those that don’t and keep moving.”

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Dr. Darius Schneider

Dr. Darius Schneider


Dr. Darius Schneider is a board-certified endocrinologist affiliated with Sharp Community Medical Group.

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