We all have suffered with anxiety at one time or another and we all will suffer with it again. Anxiety, unfortunately, is a part of life as we know it – but you don’t have to cave in to it. By eating the right foods, avoiding the anxiety feeding foods and learning simple lifestyle habits, you can overcome personal anxiety.
What is anxiety? It’s a normal reaction; anxiety is a feeling response of worry, nervousness, fear, uneasiness and even feelings of eagerness/impatience toward a situation. Usually anxiety is temporary; if you find that you have anxiety that has been going on for a very long time, it’s a good idea to talk to someone about it, maybe even your doctor.
Food and lifestyle habits play an important role in dealing with anxiety. There are some foods that feed feelings of anxiousness and some foods that calm those feelings. How food affects your body’s nervous response is of key importance. Without going deeper into the explanation and reasons for anxiety, let’s look at the foods that help us and then the foods that we should avoid.
Anxiety Easing Foods & Supplements include tryptophan rich foods, B-vitamins and B-vitamin rich foods, chamomile & green tea, lemon balm fresh herb and tea, hops, valerian root, lavender [an emotional anti-inflammatory], fermented foods [probiotics] and probiotic supplements.
Foods to Eat:
- Tryptophan: turkey, chicken, bananas, milk, oats, cheese, soy, nuts, sesame seeds, peanut butter
- B-vitamins: beef, pork, chicken, leafy greens, legumes, citrus, rice, nuts, eggs, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, whole grains, wheat
- Carbohydrates: [yes! Don’t turn away, they’re important!] whole grains (true whole grains, not additions to convenience foods), wheat, brown rice, potatoes, all vegetables
- Fermented foods: yogurt, kefir, soy milk, Miso soup/broth, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, pickles, tempeh, kimchi, micro-algae drinks
- Omega 3’s: salmon, tuna, lake trout, herring, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, nuts, supplements
- Lean Protein: plain Greek yogurt (add your own fruit, honey/maple & nuts), fish, meat, cheese, eggs, nuts, beans, soy, lentils
Foods to Avoid [or at least Limit]:
- Caffeine – (at least cut down if you drink coffee and soda all day long)
- Sugar – (causes depression) incl. sweets, candy, cakes, pies, cookies, HFCS (high fructose corn syrup and other highly refined sweeteners, aspartame,
- Processed food – boxed, frozen, canned, fast food…etc.
- Added chemicals – MSG (depression, headaches, fatigue) food dyes (disrupts normal nervous system function)
- Salt – messes with blood pressure, heart works harder to control the stress hormone adrenaline, *don’t buy/use pre-seasoned or flavored meat as they are high in sodium and added chemicals
- Fried foods
- Fatty foods – causes depression, hot dogs, deli meats, sausage
Focus your diet on clean eating whole foods, vitamin & mineral rich foods, calming herbal teas and plenty of water all year long and avoid the foods that trigger the ‘stress response’ and you can better control anxious situations. Of course stressful times will always be part of our lives, but we don’t have to let our lives revolve around our personal stress; it doesn’t have to be part of who we are.
I hope you try some of these suggestions and I hope to hear from you on your experience and/or thoughts about anxiety. Now, full breath in………let it out…exhale!