For those of you who have suffered anxiety and depression – I have been there. One of the most aggravating aspects of anxiety and depression is the feeling that you have no control. You can’t control the way you feel or what happens to you to cause those feelings.
One things I found helped me through those hard times was knowing I did have control over some things – namely, what I put in my body.
We use food to fuel us but what we eat can actually have detrimental effects on our mental well-being. While I’m not saying that eating plant-based organic diets are going to eliminate your anxiety, there are some food-type culprits that certainly do not help with the symptoms.
The two biggest offenders? Sugar and fat. While this may seem like a no-brainer, read on to see exactly how these substances hold influence over anxiety and what you can eat instead:
Sugar, aspartame and artificial sweeteners may very well be affecting your anxiety – and they are everywhere!
I can hear some of you in the back saying: “But there are some natural artificial sweeteners such as Stevia that are healthier for you than sugar!” Yes, this is true, but your body doesn’t know that. These natural sweeteners can affect the mind the same as refined sugar. So while they may be a better choice for your body, this is not necessarily true for your mind.
How exactly does sugar and its cohorts affect your mind? It impairs your body’s abilities to cope with stress and thereby worsens the symptoms of anxiety. It can also cause difficulty thinking and fatigue which are signs of a panic attack. These symptoms may trick you into thinking your in panic mode and increase feelings of worry and fear.
Sugar puts you at risk of experience a high and then quick low. Known as “sugar crashes”, this sudden drop in energy and motivation may cause you to feel lethargic and anxious.
What to Eat Instead:
- sweet fruits such as dates, bananas, pineapple, blueberries and mangoes can be used to satisfy sugar cravings and add sweetness to certain dishes
- if sweetening drinks and desserts, use a little bit of honey
Trans Fats and Hydrogenated Oils
This is another pesky substance found in so many processed foods that may be contributing to your feeling of anxiety.
Trans fats are basically man-made fats that are substituted for natural fats. However, they do not behave like natural fats and can have very adverse effects on your body and mind.
The consumption of unhealthy fats can cause physical inflammation in the brain which can lead to or attribute to depression. High levels of trans fat can also reduce the production of serotonin in the brain – a hormone related to digestion that also regulates feelings of happiness and well-being.
What to Eat Instead:
- small amounts of unsalted butter (preferably grass-fed)
- olive oil
- soft, non-hydrogenated margarine
Using Food to Reduce Anxiety
Just as the foods we put into our bodies can have adverse effects on anxiety, there are some healthy food options that can actually combat anxiety and make you feel better.
And the great part? They aren’t fancy or expensive! There are some great everyday choices you can consume to help alleviate those anxious feelings:
- dark, leafy greens
- chamomile tea
- whole grains
- dark chocolate (in moderation)
- bok choy
- brown rice