Diet can have a huge effect on the way you are feeling. Ever had too much coffee one day? You might have felt edgy and irritated and even a bit panicky, with a weird sense of some kind of impending doom? There’s no doubt that what we eat and how we feel are related, and although anxiety is not necessarily caused by what you eat, that doesn’t mean that millions of people aren’t contributing to their anxiety every day by eating foods that create anxiety symptoms while avoiding foods that may alleviate anxiety.
Changing your diet and lifestyle can help many forms of anxiety and the symptoms that go with it. Though dealing with a full-blown anxiety disorder usually requires therapy, stronger treatment programs involving acupuncture, herbs, massage and/or medication, milder cases of anxiety can be treated with lifestyle changes including dietary improvements.
The truth is that your diet does matter. What you eat affects how you feel, and how you feel is anxious.
To overcome anxiety with foods, try the following 10 tips.
- Cut back on omega-6 fatty acids and increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 acids, which we largely get from vegetable oils, can increase inflammation in the brain and have been linked with mood imbalances. Omega-3 acids, on the other hand, protects against inflammation and has been shown to improve people’s overall mood, ability to cope with stress, and ability to kick substance-abuse habits. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially prevalent in oily fish.
- Drink chamomile tea. Recent studies have demonstrated that chamomile can reduce symptoms of anxiety
- Eat foods that are high in tryptophan. This amino acid can reduce anxiety by promoting better sleep. Examples include cheese, chicken, soy products, eggs, tofu, fish, milk, turkey, nuts, peanuts and peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds
- Avoid alcohol. Unfortunately, through anxiety we sometimes turn to alcohol to try and make us feel better in the short term. Despite its immediate calming effect, alcohol itself is terrible for your body. It dehydrates you, it throws off your hormone and nutritional balance, and it can cause physical symptoms from the toxins that trigger anxiety attacks.
- Incorporate more B vitamins into your diet. The B vitamins are believed to combat anxiety by affecting your brain’s production of neurotransmitters. Some natural sources of B-vitamins include legumes, leafy vegetables, eggs, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.
- Include protein in your breakfast. Making your breakfast more energizing can help combat the effects of anxiety during the day. It’s important to keep your blood sugar levels stable and avoid highs and crashes in moods and energy.
- Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can have negatively affect your mood.
- Avoid caffeine. Excess coffee is a known anxiety stimulant. In moderation (ie, once a day in the morning), it may not trigger anxiety in most people, but the more you drink the more you increase your risk. Coffee also creates a rapid heartbeat and some sensations that may create panic attacks. In addition to heightening anxiety by making you feel jittery, the stimulating effect of caffeine can take up to eight hours to wear off and interfere with your ability to rest.
- Avoid refined sugars. Sugar in fruit isn’t too bad. White sugar in desserts is. Sugar, like caffeine, stimulates your body in a way that can create a jitteriness that exacerbates anxiety symptoms.
- Avoid acid forming foods. Foods like yogurt, pickles, eggs, sour cream, wine, and wheat are all acid creating foods, and there are reasons to believe that these foods drop magnesium levels. Magnesium is a cause or contributor of anxiety in many of those suffering from anxiety symptoms, so cutting back on acid forming foods is important.
Creating a Diet to Improve Anxiety
Unless you improve your diet, you’re making it harder to reduce anxiety. Your diet is a contributing factor to both the experience and the severity of anxiety. Since eating a healthier diet is also important for your health and your self-esteem, changing your diet when you suffer from anxiety makes a great deal of sense. Then you can pair your anxiety diet up with an effective treatment program.
When You Need More Help
There are many natural non habit-forming herbs and therapies you can take to help alleviate anxiety if diet changes alone are not enough. Kava and valerian are great examples of nervines which calm the nervous system and reduce feelings of anxiety. It is always recommended that you talk to one of our naturopaths to find out a herbal complex which is best for you. Acupuncture is also a known therapy for reducing anxiety and you can read more about that here. Massage is also be helpful, with countless studies recording a group of proven benefits including reduction in anxiety. Reductions in anxiety and depression were massage therapy’s largest effects, with a course of treatment stated as providing benefits similar in magnitude to those of psychotherapy.
Talk to us today about creating a way out of your anxiety.