The Anti-Anxiety Diet
The Anti-Anxiety Diet
Anxiety is a complex condition and usually many factors combine to cause it. If you’re feeling depressed and anxious it can definitely effect you’re eating habits and daily routine. Some people go off their food when they feel depressed and anxious, whilst others will comfort eat. Anti-anxiety drugs/medication can also affect your weight.
As a basic rule of thumb a good diet will include starchy foods such as pasta and rice, with lots of vegetables and fruit, some rich protein foods such as fish, lentils and meat, with some dairy products such as cheese and milk. This gives you all the nutrients you need. But you also need to reduce salt, fat and sugar intake.
Anxiety can’t be solely blamed on environment or what we eat. However in my opinion when I started to improve my diet I saw one of the biggest improvements in my condition. Diet is also one of the easiest things to change to see the greatest benefit.
I think millions of people are contributing to their own anxiety everyday by eating foods that trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Our diets have changed dramatically over the last 30 - 40 years and not for the better. In some ways we have been brain washed into eating foods we do not need and they are actually causing us ill health. Remember it’s in the interest of the manufactures to promote, market and sell food products with a fun, heathy spin on the product even though they are blatantly unhealthy.
The bottom line is your health does matter. You are what you eat. What you eat affects how you feel, and can make you calm or make you anxious. I’m not saying diet is the complete answer to anxiety but you will see a dramatic improvement in your condition if you follow my anxiety diet program.
Research has shown us that some foods promote wellbeing whilst other foods will act like a stimulant and agitate anxiety. If you suffer from panic attacks or anxiety then this can activate anxiety symptoms and make them worse.
A poor diet in the short term only usually leads to temporary symptoms, but it if you continue to have a poor diet it can lead to long term health issues.
Sometimes some relatively simple changes in your diet can help to alleviate the physical and mental sensations caused by anxiety.
We often turn to alcohol or fast food to make us feel better which it often does in the short term. But after the effects ware off we often feel worse. Changing your diet is a way of life and you will need stamina and will power to stick with this regime.
I found changing my diet helped my battle with anxiety in so many ways. It’s something I have stuck too to this day. Occasionally I’m not perfect and sometimes go for a curry with my mates and have a few beers, but I know I'm not going to slip back into my old bad eating habits. My health is too precious for that, and anyway living with anxiety was hell.
Changing your diet will bring great relief to how you feel but remember it’s not the complete answer.
Just on a side note exercise will also have dramatic positive effects on your body so consider doing this as well. Consider changing your attitude, building your confidence and learning to relax as well.
What is the Anti-anxiety Diet?
Well there are millions of diets on the market, some are frankly completely unhealthy. The diet I am proposing is basically common sense. I believe balance is everything, so my diet is really going to keep your body system stable.
‘Healthy eating’ is a phrase that is used a lot but I want you to really be honest with yourself and write down exactly what you eat every day. How healthy is your diet really?
My anti-anxiety diet is really simple and easy to apply but it will require dedication and will power.
I have listed below some foods that will help to improve your anxiety levels by actively promoting calmness, and other foods that can increase your stress and panicky levels and even contribute to a depressed state.
Supplements for Anxiety and Stress
Tryptophan (& Serotonin) Rich foods such as Turkey
Tryptophan has long been established as a feel good protein because it helps the body produce amino acid which is a feel good chemical. Manual Villacorta a respected San Francisco nutritionist and spokesman for the American Die-tic Association stated "Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin, and a neurotransmitter, it helps you feel calm"
Tryptophan is found in a number of foods these include, oats, milk, chicken, turkey, nuts, cheese, seeds, peanut butter, soy, kale, banana’s, shrimp.
Now you know why you feel a little sleepy after your Christmas turkey!
Oatmeal is another great food to help produce the relaxing hormone serotonin. Old fashioned thick oatmeal is high in fibre and will take your body along time to digest, so its effect will last longer.
However it’s quite possible that Tryptophan cannot cross the blood brain barrier so the effect it is likely to have, may not be that profound.
Foods that contain Vitamin B
Research has shown that our mood can be effected by B vitamins which include B1 and thiamine. It’s likely a deficiency in B vitamins which includes B12 and Folic acids can aggravate the symptoms of depression and anxiety. Vitamin B can easily be taken as a supplement or part of a general vitamin tablet. Of course the best thing is to make sure you are getting enough vitamin B from your diet. Foods high in Vitamin B include beef, pork, nuts, eggs, oranges, legumes, leafy vegetables and rice.
Nuts for anxiety
All natural nuts are good for us but almonds are especially good. They contain zinc which we need to maintain a balanced mood. If you break down what’s is almonds they contain healthy fatty acids, zinc, copper, manganese, magnesium, vitamin E, protein, riboflavin, potassium, iron,Phytosterols, vitamin B2, fibre, and antioxidants. Lack of iron in our diets has been linked to low energy and brain fatigue.
Nuts are great for boosting the immune system in times of stress. There are plenty of cereals which have nuts in them so why not have them for breakfast. They can be purchased here at a good price.
Dark Chocolate can improve mood
I do not advocate eating chocolate in my program of recovery from anxiety and panic attacks but a small helping of dark chocolate is not going to hurt us. In fact it’s probably good for us. Pure dark chocolate without the sugars, milks, preservatives, e numbers; is likely to reduce cortisol.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that can trigger anxiety symptoms. Research has also indicated that inside dark chocolate there are compounds that can lift our mood.
Hypoglycemia Diet for Anxiety
Keep a constant sugar level
Carbohydrates will also help increase the level of serotonin production. The best carbohydrates to eat are whole grains like whole wheat bread, buckwheat, brown rice, etc. Process foods should be avoided like cakes, sweets, white rice and white bread. Why? Because these will cause your sugar levels to rise quickly which will cause your body to release insulin. This can cause a crash in your blood sugar. Initially you may feel like you have more energy which you have because sugar has entered your system, but after the crash you will feel lethargic and not at your best.
Whole grains are healthier and they take much longer for your body to break them down, so there is a much slower release of sugar into the bloodstream. Processed foods tend to lose the whole grain in the milling process which is where the nutrients is.
Magnesium is missing from our diets
This vitamin is vital to our wellbeing so it’s important you eat magnesium rich foods like black beans and tofu.
It can be Purchased here
Foods for Anxiety
Omega 3 fatty acids
Evidence is slowly growing that eating omega 3 fatty acids which are found in fish foods such as sardines, anchovies, herring, tuna, trout, salmon, mackerel, etc.; are especially good for you. Researching is growing they can improve your mood and make you happier. A recent study indicated that patients who were suffering from anxiety and depression who took omega fatty acids along with their medication improved much more, compared to those who just took medication alone
For the last decade the American heart association has issued guidelines that people should eat omega fatty acids twice a week. The medical profession has long thought that unsaturated fats in fish (omega 3 fatty acids) contained components that will reduce heart disease.
Salmon is especially good and it can keep the stress chemical cortisol and adrenaline at a steady level when you are anxious.
You can buy Omega Fatty Acids Here
Anxiety busting protein foods.
Proteins are great because you eat as much of them as you like and they do not effect blood sugar levels. They also help in the production of the brain chemical dopamine and norepinephrine. These are similar to serotonin and are basically neurotransmitters which carry signals between nerve cells. If you can improve levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine that you stand a chance of improving your concentration, alertness and mood. Protein can be digested via lentils, milk, cheese, yogurt, meats, fish, nuts, etc. The best way of eating protein is to combine it with a meal of complex carbohydrates and to eat small meals consistently throughout the day.
There are products Like Mood Boost that help to produce the feel good chemicals chemical dopamine and norepinephrine.
Fresh Fruit is best for sugar
Fruit is great for obtaining natural sugar. This sugar is the kind we need. If you think back to caveman time’s man would have obtained his sugar from this source. He would not have popped into Tesco’s and got a mars bar! Refined sugar from sweets is the kind of sugar we need to avoid.
Fruit contains not only sugar but fibre, antioxidants amongst other things that have great nutritional value.
Fruit baskets can be purchased here for a great selection of variety
Vitamins for Anxiety
As stated earlier we need Vitamin B for nerves and brain cells. Evidence suggests a deficiency in vitamin B can make anxiety worse. Avocadoes are especially rich in anxiety busting B vitamins. They also contain stress relieving potassium and monounsaturated fat which will helps reduce blood pressure. If you don’t fancy eating an avocado raw then why not blend avocado with nut milk, vanilla extract, banana and non-nutritive sweetener. Once blended freeze and enjoy some ice cream avocado at your leisure.
You can buy Avocado recipes here.
Blueberries are the best
Leading on from fresh fruit, blueberries are often considered a superfood. They have a high vitamin and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) content. The Vitamin C content is extremely high in even a handful of these small berries. Vitamin C is great for repairing and protecting cells. They also have a variety of anti-oxidants which can cleanse the system and help to relieve stress. Peaches appear also to have extra beneficial properties as well because they appear to have calming (sedation) effect.
Blueberries can be bought in a dried packet or as a soft gel capsule
Another berry worth mentioning is the acai berry. They have become the newest superfood and have been indorsed by celebrities – Victoria Beckham. They have created quite a lot of press recently but the weight loss aspect has not proven to be successful as others would suggest. However as a berry rich in phytonutrients it’s extremely good and like the blueberry and its anti-oxidants levels are unbelievable.
They can be purchased here in a powder, dried berries or capsule product.
Oranges are great for vitamin C which is another vitamin known to lower the stress hormone cortisol as well as blood pressure. Eat an orange today and get a natural lift. Just a word of warning don’t drink glasses of concentrated juices especially with sweetener. If you do your blood sugar is going to jump up. Modern concentrated juices have extremely high natural sugars which is sometimes compounded with added sugars. Eat a whole orange from the peel as this will have fibre which will counteract any natural sugars.
Other sources of vitamin C include red peppers, peaches, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggs, spinach, and kiwis.
Vitamin C can be purchased as a supplement here
Vegetables- the corner stone of recovery
It goes without saying that vegetables are especially required for anxiety sufferers. They have so many health benefits and anyone who is rundown with anxiety will need the fibre and vitamins contained within.
You can buy supplements which pack on the nutrients you would get from eating vegetables into a tablet. However they are no substitute for eating the real thing.
Depression fighting Asparagus
Low levels of folic acid have been linked to depression but there is a vegetable that will do more than most to boost this nutrient that can enhance your mood. If you were to eat a single cup full it would provide two thirds of your daily value. It’s also quite easy to insert into most meals. For example it could be cut up and mixed with an omelette, perhaps you could steam the stems and then dip them into some dressing or add as a side dish (cooked or steamed) with meat or fish.
It can be purchased in capsules, fresh, in tins, etc.
Spinach – Popeye’s secret ingredient
Taking Spinach with regulate your Cortisol levels and they will help you feel more balanced. A cup of spinach is enough for 40% of your daily amount of magnesium. Next time you make a sandwich swap lettuce for a couple of leaves of spinach or steam some for your next meal.
Spinach can be purchased in tins, as an extract, fresh in packets, in powder, etc.
Seaweed for anxiety
Seaweed has many great benefits for anxiety suffers. It’s similar to whole grains as it’s very rich in nutrients. It also very good food for obtaining high levels of magnesium. Kelp and other seaweeds have a very high tryptophan content. If you are gluten sensitive then seaweed would be an ideal alternative to whole grains.
Milk warm or cold will make you sleep
Having a glass of warm milk before you rest your weary head is a time tested technique for promoting sleep and stopping restless fidgets. There are so many good things in milk such as protein, calcium antioxidants and vitamins B2 & B12. It’s no wonder babies thrive on this wonder stuff. I personally prefer a glass of cold milk before sleep but it really doesn’t matter how you take it. Milk contains potassium that can help relieve muscle tension and the protein Latium has a relaxing effect by reducing blood pressure.
Apart from drinking the real thing you get Milk Supplements. Milk thistle for example is a renowned organic remedy for various conditions related to the pancreas and the liver. It is packed with liver-protecting and liver-repairing properties.
Maca root for anxiety
You won’t find Maca root in many supermarkets but you will find it in health stores. It usually comes in a powder format and can be added to drinks or food. The root is believed to contain more phytonutrients than nearly every other type of vegetable or fruit. Its two key components which will help anxiety sufferers are iron and magnesium. They will help combat anxiety symptoms. Maca root will help people maintain stamina and energy.
Maca Root can be purchased in powder or capsule form.
Caffeine is a killer
We have all drank tea, coffee cola as a pick me up to boost our energy levels. Caffeine is a stimulant which will give you an adrenaline rush at the beginning, but in the long run it makes anxiety worse, symptoms include the jitters, headaches, and heart palpitations.
Caffeine has been shown to reduce levels of the feel good chemical serotonin in the brain. Once this happens it can make you depressed and moody. Also caffeine is a diuretic, it makes you want to go the toilet more often. If you’re after a good night sleep caffeine is not your best option. Remember anxiety sufferers want to promote sleep and positive moods.
Sweets and chocolate give you short pleasure for long term pain.
As touched upon before refined sugar such as sweets, chocolate and cake you get from the supermarkets are quickly absorbed into our bloodstream. Nearly everyone has a sweet tooth for something and in the short term it can give us a lift and make us feel better.
But as the body slowly removes the sugar from our system (because we simply don’t need it) we can become irritable, tired and feel low.
Alcohol is not good
Alcohol like sweets can also make you feel better in the short term. People often self-medicate and drink alcohol to ease their stress and anxiety. Unfortunately the effect is only temporary. Alcohol is a depressant and also dehydrates you which can make you feel awful. Drinking water and staying hydrated is important for anxiety sufferers as again it will keep you in a better place. If you have a good solid meal with protein and carbohydrates there is no problem with having one glass of wine accompanied with a glass of water. But if you’re drinking a bottle wine before bed you are asking for trouble.
The recommended daily limits for men is 3-4 units a day, for women its 2-3 units a day. You can use the alcohol unit calculator to find out how many units you are drinking. Often anti-anxiety medication is not compatible with drinking alcohol anyway.
We need to drink about 1.2 litres of water a day. Our bodies are made up of mostly water so we need to replenish this. In today’s busy life we sometimes forget to drink enough water. This can cause dehydration resulting in light headiness and lack of energy. My personal favourite is drinking camomile and peppermint tea instead of coffee and normal tea to hydrate myself without the caffeine content.
You can buy packed water online here if you struggle to carry it from the supermarket.
General processed foods have no nutrients
Processed foods you see in the supermarkets such as pies, ready meals, sausages, etc. are not giving your body what it needs. Anxiety suffers tend to need more nutrients then most as their bodies are under enormous pressure. It’s very easy now to get a meal in a shop and warm it up in a microwave. That instant hunger has been taken away but it’s not really giving your body the vitamins it craves.
The best meals are where some thought has been put into it. Research in London found eating fatty and process foods and general poor diets increase the risk of depression.
The study concluded that if people ate fried foods, sugary desserts, processed meat and high fat dairy products they had a 58% increased risk of depression than people who ate healthy whole grain foods, vegetables and fish. So it may take an extra 15mins to prepare a salad or steam some vegetables, but the mental and physical benefits will be worth it.
Stress Relief Inhaler
Not strictly a food but when you need some relief quite quickly you may wish to try a stress relief inhaler. These aromatherapy inhalers are quite cheap and they combine different scents (lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, jojoba, etc.) that go straight to the amygdala – the fear and anxiety centre of the brain – helping to create a sense of calm and distraction against anxious feelings.
Stress Relief Inhalers can be purchased here
Foods on their own will not cure anxiety but they will go a long way to improving the condition. I can guarantee if you eat the correct foods they will make your body more stable. This will enable you to concentrate on other methods which will push you towards total freedom form anxiety.
What you eat does affect your ability to cope with anxiety. I wish somebody had told me this when I started to suffer from anxiety. I thought my body would function even though I was putting diesel into a petrol engine.
If you take one piece of advice away from this article is no recovery will be complete unless you get to grips with your diet. Anxiety is directly linked to food and you will need a structured diet plan to get your mind and body stable.
By eating the correct Anti-anxiety diet you will become more confident in your body’s ability to cope as you will feel less symptoms. You will also be happier within yourself and irrational thoughts will start to calm down as the fight or flight response will not be activated.
It’s also worth keeping a diary of what foods you eat every day. Keep tabs on when you’re feeling particularly unwell and what your symptoms you are experiencing. If certain foods (i.e. dairy products) seem to be causing more symptoms then try cutting these things out of your diet. Go and see your doctor or nutritionist too see if you have an allergy or intolerance to these types of food. If you’re seeing patterns of symptoms you need to do something about it.
Our stomachs are often referred to as our ‘second brain’. How we treat our digestive system can dramatically change our moods and emotions in a positive and negative way.
I hope the above article has helped you realize what foods are beneficial to have in your diet. They will provide the necessary vitamins and minerals required that are known to calm the mind and give you the necessary nutrients to replenish a rundown body. If you can learn to cut out harmful foods your energy will increase and your mood will stabilize and anxiety levels will drop.
Make it your mission to prepare fresh unprocessed meals. Try to find new spices and flavours such as garlic, honey, apple cider vinegar to encourage you to make exciting new meals. In the process you will find a lot of these natural foods have wonderful healing properties for so many conditions. Did you know?
- Aspirin was first discovered from the bark of the willow tree in 1763 by Edward Stone.
- Lemon has high thiamine which can help the central nervous system
- And magnesium can help restless leg syndrome.
A trait in anxiety and panic sufferers is they like to please other people. Sometimes in pleasing a partner, child, friend, boss we forget to look after ourselves.
MAKE TIME FOR YOURSELF TO EAT PROPERLY
Herbs for Anxiety
If you’re looking for two great natural remedies which can help anxiety related stomach problems then try this –
- Iberogast can be found in most health stores. In iberogast is a mixture of herbs and plants including peppermint, chamomile, St Mary’s thistle, liquorice and caraway. You just need to add a few drops to your water and it will help your digestive system.
There has been more than a dozen studies that have shown Iberogast will promote the normal digestion. If you suffer stomach cramps, bloating, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, functional dyspepsia or heartburn it may be worth giving this a try.
- Lemon balm has been used since around the time of the Middle Ages as a herb with calming properties. Lemon balm can help alleviate your stomach reacting to worries and stress. It comes in a capsule or drop form.
Please also remember that changing your diet is a long term, life changing course of action. The benefits of changing your diet my take many months to see.
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