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Amira McLaughlin

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Food is your body’s fuel. But more than that, what you eat can significantly impact the way you feel, your mood, and daily activities. 

For example, sugar can give you a boost, only to fizzle out before you know it, making you feel sluggish. However, eating fruits and veggies provides you with longer-lasting energy. And did you know that some foods can affect your anxiety levels too? For both better and for worse. Check-out the information below to discover the relationship between certain foods and anxiety. Keep in mind: each individual’s physiology responds differently to certain foods. Below you will find some basics to know about the link between what you eat and how you feel. 

First, it’s essential to start with a healthy and balanced diet if you want to enhance the effects of nutritional changes on how anxious you feel daily. If your eating habits could use a general overhaul, that’s an excellent place to begin. 

Next steps: gradually begin substituting good-for-you options for some of the more troublesome ones. For example, eliminating just one unnutritious habit like drinking soda every day can be a great start. Try buying fruit-infused water or squeeze lemon in your water instead to see what happens. Water is essential and a far better alternative to sugary drinks contributes to highs, crashing and unwanted, lows. Dehydration can negativley disrupt your mood, so thank goodness for water, it provides much-needed hydration to your body.

Now, let’s talk about complex carbohydrates. How does it impact your levels of anxiety? Your brain’s serotinin levels are increased by complex carbs, which is a known feel-good brain chemical that offers a calming effect. A few complex carbohydrates you can try are whole-grain bread, oatmeal, and quinoa.

What about breakfast? Another anxiety-busting strategy is to eat a breakfast that’s high in protein. Starting your day this way gives you higher energy levels and steady blood sugar. You’ll also feel fuller for longer, helping to avoid the temptation to binge on unhealthy snacks mid-morning. Get creative with your eggs or whip up a peanut butter smoothie for a protein-packed wake-up. 

Lunch and dinner? Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in lowering both depression and anxiety. So go for a light lunch of salmon or avocado salad, or add Quinoa for a hearty dinner to decrease midnight snacking. 

Some other things to conider: tryptophan, that ingredient in turkey that makes you feel sleepy after Thanksgiving dinner, is also a soothing ingredient; it stimulates the production of feel-good brain chemicals. Some foods/drinks that contain tryptophan: nuts, cheese, bananas, milk, and chicken. Also, if you avoid overeating, it will ensure that you don’t feel sleepy when you need to be alert for work or other tasks. Vitamin B helps to reduce anxious symptoms, too. So load up on leafy greens, legumes, beef, chicken, citrus fruits, rice, and eggs. 

Last thing, let’s take a look at three things you may want to remove from your diet to avoid feeling anxious. 

  1. Cut down on caffeine. This natural stimulant inhibits your serotonin production. It’s also a diuretic that will send you running to the bathroom more often, increasing your chances of becoming dehydrated. We already looked at how dehydration can negatively affect mood. 
  2. Cut down or eliminate sweets. Here’s bad news if you have a sweet tooth. Your go-to candy fix hurts your energy levels through its quick absorption into the bloodstream and surge of insulin production. 
  3. Finally, while alcohol can seem like an excellent way to escape the bad feelings, it’s counterproductive to indulge because alcohol is a depressant. A glass of wine can be enjoyable, though. Just don’t overdo it. Mindset Shift: strive to maintain a balanced diet of healthy foods as a rule, with treats thrown in on occasion.

These tips should get you started on modifying your diet to lower anxiety. Do be aware of any food sensitivities you may have. You can tailor these suggestions to your own needs and lifestyle. Ask your doctor before making significant changes to your daily food intake or if you have any concerns.

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