Those of us who deal with anxiety, we know it’s no fun. If this is something you deal with, you more than likely are like me and on a constant hunt for ways to deal with it. I prefer natural ways rather than medication. I also would prefer to bypass a psychologist. Lucky for us there are some little diet changes that can help reduce anxiety. I’m well into my thirties at this point and food and my body just don’t get along like they use to. I feel horrible almost immediately when I eat processed foods. The things they are putting into our foods these days aren’t A1 quality. They add artificial everything to everything! There are many studies that show the link between diet and mental health, according to Harvard Health, and as crazy as it sounds, cleaning up your diet can end up improving your symptoms. “Making sure you get in those ‘feel good foods’ is not only beneficial nutritionally but can help ward off anxiety,” says Jessica Swift, RD, also known as Chef Jess.
Here are 7 little diet changes you can make that can help you reduce your anxiety.
Eating a balance of food groups is essential to help combat anxiety, but protein is especially important. “Protein is responsible for helping stimulate the production of dopamine (the feel-good neurotransmitter) to help fight against anxiety.
2. Fatty Acid
Eating foods rich in the nutrient can help with your mood, according to Psychology Today. Try cold pressed flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and salmon for an omega-3 boost.
3. Cutting Down Caffeine
[This is a tough one for me. But let’s give it a try.]
Caffeine is a stimulant, which means it causes an assortment of reactions in the body that mimic the symptoms of anxiety – think increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature,” These are also symptoms that can trigger a panic attack. It is very common to see heightened anxiety responses after caffeine intake. It is advisable for anyone with anxiety to decrease or stop any caffeine intake.”
4 Drink more water
Did you know that mild dehydration can cause moodiness and fatigue? Dehydration affects every system in your body, and without enough water, those systems start to malfunction,” says Seti. “This includes things like hormone-behavior, brain usage, and blood flow — all of which can trigger anxiety. Make sure you are getting ample amounts of water daily.”
5. Eat more Vitamin C
“Vitamin C helps with anxiety by decreasing the amount of cortisol (the stress hormone) secreted by the adrenals,” says Daphne Oliver, RD over email. “In addition, a vitamin C deficiency is linked to decreased dopamine and serotonin in the brain, which is linked to anxiety.” Try eating a fresh orange over drinking orange juice purchased from the grocery store.
6. Pick that side salad
Leafy vegetables are high in magnesium, which is a calming mineral. So you’ll want to load up on not only those greens, but other magnesium-rich foods such as nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. If you have the option to have a salad as your side dish over fries try it out and see how your body responds.
7. Cut down on sugar
Remember when I said they put artificial everything in EVERYTHING? Well, one of those artificial things would be sugar! “Refine and processed sugar enters our bloodstream very quickly, causing an impact on our blood sugar levels,” says Seti. “This is usually a big spike, followed by a big drop — both of which can exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Stick to complex carbohydrates and unrefined sugar sources like fruit.”
These are simple things you can do every day that may to calm your anxiety and/or prevent anxiety attacks. I haven’t had an actual attack in a few months but I’m anxious on the regular. I’ve cut back a lot on processed foods and I do see a difference. My biggest thing is coffee. It’s been a part of my daily work functionality for over 15 years so it is going to be hard but I know it is something I need to work on? What will be your biggest challenge? Do you have any tips to add?