It has become a well known fact these days that the Standard American Diet is horrible … causing many illnesses such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease just to name a few. All the chemicals and toxins in processed foods can also be a detriment to one who suffers from any anxiety symptoms. I have always been a healthy eater but when menopause and anxiety presented themselves I got serious about what I put in my body. A whole food, preferably organic, diet was extremely beneficial in controlling my anxiety symptoms. It was not cured by no means, however, I did notice that my triggers lessened, my mind seemed a bit clearer and my symptoms were much easier to control. This got me to thinking about how our diet can aid in making anxiety symptoms more manageable … so the research was on …
Sugar Had To Go
Processed foods found on the market today are chalk full of sugar and fat … while my research into sugar was actively geared to the cancer that runs rampant in my family I knew it was one of the things I had to eliminate from my diet … cancer feeds off sugar as I found out. But, what was surprising, I also found out that sugar can worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the bodies ability to cope with stress.
An article from Psychology Today states:
The Standard American Diet, which is full of sugar and fat, does not necessarily cause anxiety but it does appear to worsen anxiety symptoms and impair the body’s ability to cope with stress. Individuals who suffer from panic attacks, for example, are hyper-alert to signs of impending danger. Sugar can cause blurry vision, difficulty thinking and fatigue, all of which may be interpreted as signs of a panic attack, thereby increasing worry and fear. A sugar high and subsequent crash can cause shaking and tension, which can make anxiety worse.
Research has established a correlation between sugar intake and anxiety. In a 2008 study (link is external), rats that binged on sugar and then fasted displayed anxiety, and in a 2009 study (link is external) rats fed sucrose compared to high-antioxidant honey were more likely to suffer anxiety. While dietary changes alone cannot cure anxiety, they can minimize symptoms, boost energy and improve the body’s ability to cope with stress.
If you are fighting against the symptoms of an anxiety disorder, it is a must that you are aware of relevant dietary do’s and don’ts. The foods you choose to consume will impact your mood and energy levels. Knowing the foods that you should be eating and the ones you should NOT be eating can help you deal with your anxiety symptoms.
Healthy eating can greatly help decrease your anxiety levels. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind when planning your diet.
Don’t forget to eat whole foods
Studies have shown that incorporating more whole foods into one’s daily diet can help reduce the levels of anxiety symptoms and depression. A whole food diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish. This also means avoidance or at least a reduction of refined grains, sugary and fried foods.
Don’t ignore the nutritional info
If you want to stay healthy and improve your ability to fight the debilitating symptoms of anxiety, then you should make the effort to read the nutritional content of processed foods that you intend to purchase. Use your computer to search Google or whatever search engine you prefer to get information on those nutrients that will help you in your quest to be rid of anxiety and to stay healthy for life.
For starters, it would certainly help to learn about such key nutrients as vitamin C since it is beneficial for achieving balance during the production of stress hormones especially during anxious moments. Vitamin B is another important nutrient that you should aim to incorporate when planning your daily meals. B vitamins include folate, riboflavin, niacin, etc. These nutrients provide support to the functioning of the nervous system and replenish those nutrients that have been used especially during those times when your body is subjected to too much stress and anxiety.
Eating foods that are rich in magnesium can help relax an individual’s tensed muscles, lower blood pressure, stabilize blood sugar levels and regulate heart rate.
Don’t eliminate carbs
Carbohydrates have been receiving a bad rap these days and some of the information about carbs and anxiety can be a bit misleading. The important thing is to know the difference between good carbs and bad carbs. That way you will know which kind to include in your diet and your body will never be deprived of the right amount and the right kind of carbohydrates that are essential for overall health.
Stay clear of simple carbohydrates which are commonly obtained from sugary foods such as soft drinks and foods made from white flour. These simple carbohydrates will only cause your blood sugar levels to dip and make you vulnerable to an “energy crash”.
On the other hand, you should incorporate more complex carbohydrates into your diet. Whole grain foods are rich sources of complex carbohydrates that are digested slowly by the body, making the person feel fuller longer and less vulnerable to digestive problems. Even more importantly, this type of carbohydrate can help in the production of serotonin which is responsible for sending out feel-good messages to your brain.
Here’s a list of healthy whole grain foods:
- Bulgur (cracked wheat)
- Whole wheat flour
- Whole oats/oatmeal
- Whole grain corn/corn meal
- Brown rice
- Whole rye
- Whole grain barley
- Whole farro
- Wild rice
- Buckwheat/Buckwheat flour
However, there is a study that has been conducted by Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics which focused on the psychological effect of gluten on Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity patients. titled “Gluten May Cause Depression in Subjects With Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity”, led by first author Dr. Simone Peters and as reported by celiac.org states:
Following the previous study that failed to find a link between gluten and gastrointestinal symptoms, the authors thought that perhaps the reason some people “feel better” on a gluten- free diet is that gluten has a negative effect on their mental state. Indeed, this recent study supports that conclusion, as there was a detectable and significant change in the depression scores of the participants. Exactly how gluten causes a change in mental state is still unknown.
If you’re interested in going gluten free you may want to take a look at my free resource page and grab these two ebooks:
Don’t forget protein
Protein is another macronutrient that should be included in your meal plan. Choose lean meat and poultry. Fish is another good source of protein. Including protein in your diet is important for the release of amino acids into the bloodstream. One better-known example of an amino acid is tryptophan that helps produce feel-good hormones. Getting a good balance of these healthy nutrients is very important in your overall plan to treat anxiety.
Have you found that a healthy whole food diet helps relieve your anxiety symptoms?
See you in the comments,