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Irritability and Diet

author image Jill Corleone, RDN, LD
Jill Corleone is a registered dietitian and health coach who has been writing and lecturing on diet and health for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Diabetes Self-Management and in the book "Noninvasive Mechanical Ventilation," edited by John R. Bach, M.D. Corleone holds a Bachelor of Science in nutrition.
Irritability and Diet
Drink up. Dehydration increases irritability. Photo Credit Klaus Tiedge/Blend Images/Getty Images

If you find little things more irritating than you normally do, you may want to take a look at what you're eating. While irritability can be caused by any number of things, such as lack of sleep, stress or mental illness, what you eat or don't eat can also have an effect on your mood and irritability. Consult your doctor if you're concerned about your mood and diet.

Low-Carb Diets

A number of diet plans help you lose weight by restricting your carbohydrate intake. Low-carb diets may make you feel more angry, tense and depressed, according to an article in "Psychology Today." Not getting enough carbs in your diet may decrease serotonin levels, which is a neurotransmitter that makes you feel happy and satisfied. Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes complex carbs may be the better way to go for weight loss if your low-carb diet is making you cranky.

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Skipping Meals

Whether it's due to lack of time or a weight-loss strategy, skipping meals can do more harm than good. When you go too long without eating, your energy levels drop, which leads to fatigue and irritability. It also increases hunger, which may lead you to overeat to compensate. Eating a meal or snack every four hours may help steady energy levels and mood, says a report in U.S. News Health.

Not Getting Enough to Drink

Dehydration, even mild dehydration, may increase irritability, according to a 2009 study published in "Perceptual and Motor Skills." How much you need to drink to stay hydrated depends on your age, body size, activity, diet and weather conditions. To improve mood, you can start by making sure you get at least 8 to 12 cups of water a day to replace the water you lose through perspiration, urination, bowel movements and breathing, says Clemson University Cooperative Extension.

Aspartame and Irritability

Aspartame is a sugar substitute 200 times sweeter than sugar found in a number of different food products, including diet soda, sugar-free gum and diet gelatin. Many people worry about consuming aspartame because they consider it a "chemical" -- it's made by joining the amino acids phenylanine and aspartic acid -- and are concerned about its effect on the body. A 2014 study published in "Research in Nursing and Health" found that healthy adults on a high-aspartame diet, a little more than one packet of the sweetener for every pound in body weight, were more irritable and depressed than those on a low-aspartame diet. Some people are more sensitive to aspartame than others, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. If you're consuming a lot of aspartame, cutting back may improve your mood.

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