You are what you eat. I“The food you eat can have a direct effect on your energy level, physical health, and mood. A “healthy diet” is one that has enough of each essential nutrient, contains many foods from all of the basic food groups, provides the right amount of calories to maintain a healthy weight, and does not have too much fat, sugar, salt, or alcohol,” as stated by Carol A. Gooch, LPC, LMFT.
If you’re feeling anxious, then what’s on your plate could be to blame. Here are 10 changes you can make to your diet to combat your anxiety:
- Refrain from soda.
I have quite the love affair with Coca-Cola, although my bloated stomach and anxiety do not like it. Four years ago, I broke up with Coca-Cola and cold turkey, and it has been the best thing I could have done to jumpstart a healthier approach to my diet. I once drank four cans of Vanilla Coke PER DAY! That’s 168 grams of sugar in total, and 56 percent of my daily sugar value. Drinking soda is an addiction, and the sooner you stop, the better your mind and body will feel. Limit your sugar intake in general.
2. Limit your coffee intake.
I love coffee, and I really love caffeine. I replaced Coca-Cola with coffee after I quit. Replacing one addiction with another, right? Coffee can make an anxious person even more jittery and, well, anxious. So, if you are a massive java lover, limit your intake to one 10-ounce cup of coffee in the morning and another in the afternoon. Or just drink green tea. It gives you a caffeine boost while also loading your body with healthy antioxidants. Win, win.
3. Add turkey to your daily diet.
Put turkey instead of bologna on your sandwich. Make turkey tacos instead of using hamburger. The tryptophan in the turkey helps to produce more serotonin in your brain, decreasing stress and anxiety. So, stock up on tryptophan-filled foods, such as turkey, chicken, nuts, peanut butter, cheese, and nuts.
4. Avoid fast food.
There’s nothing like stress-eating a McDonald’s Big Mac or an entire order of mozzarella cheese sticks. But, foods high in fat and calories can make your anxiety even worse, so it’s best to avoid them. Foods like hot dogs can also make depression worse. Avoid anything over-processed.
Add Omega-3-rich foods to your mealtimes.
You will find this healthy fatty acid in tuna, salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Eating these types of fish will boost your mood, decrease your risk of heart disease and work hand-in-hand with antidepressant medications if you take them (lessening your anxiety).
6. Stop drinking alcohol.
While some like to enjoy an alcoholic beverage from time to time to unwind, it actually makes anxiety worse. Alcohol is a depressant, so the relief you feel from your stress and anxiety is only a temporary fix for your most pressing problems. If you do drink, drink in moderation, such as a glass of wine paired with your Italian dinner.
7. Eat carbohydrates.
“Carbohydrates tend to make people feel calm and mellow,” according to Judith J. Wurtman Ph.D. Depending on your diet, you may want to limit your carbohydrates; however, eating carbs has health benefits. If you eat whole grains, like brown rice or whole-wheat bread, your body will break them down more slowly. Avoid processed choices, like white bread, white rice, candy, and other sugars. These types of carbs will give you a spike in energy, but it’s short-lived because they drop your blood sugar more quickly. You will feel tired faster.
8. Avocados are your best friend.
I love avocados, which makes it easy for me to incorporate them into my diet. I eat them with eggs, on sandwiches and even plain. I also make homemade guacamole. This superfruit contains potassium, which lowers your blood pressure and anxiety levels.
9. You can have SOME chocolate.
Make it dark chocolate and in limited quantities. Dark chocolate will help you feel calmer and less stressed.
10. Eat asparagus.
Asparagus is rich in sulfur, B vitamins, and folic acid, all of which are related to anxiety. So, fill your plate with 5.3-ounce serving asparagus to get 60 percent of your daily dose of folic acid.
“Eating a healthy diet is not about strict limitations, staying unrealistically thin, or depriving yourself of the foods you love. Rather, it’s about feeling great, having more energy, improving your health, and boosting your mood,” says psychologists Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A.