Do you find it difficult to manage your anxiety despite seeing a therapist on a regular basis, taking your medication as directed, and having a strong support system? The truth is that effective anxiety management requires more than just leaving your therapist’s office, screwing the lid back on the pill container, and staying close with your family and friends—it also requires you to pay attention to one other important factor: your food. If you haven’t tried adjusting your diet, you may be losing out on an essential opportunity to combat anxiety.
Nutritionists and psychologists have been learning more in recent years about how the foods we eat affect our mental health. The brain and the stomach have an obvious link. The gut is now regarded as the second brain by researchers. When vital nutrients are in short supply, it has a direct impact on neurotransmitter production and brain chemistry, which can enhance or decrease anxiety-related behaviors.
Is it intimidating to change your diet to help you cope with your anxiety? It doesn’t have to be that difficult to just consider your eating choices. It’s a simple, healthy lifestyle shift for your body and mind. For anyone with anxiety, the most crucial dietary modification is to arrange meals around healthy foods, limiting the amount of processed foods you consume, including sweets and snack foods.
Changes to your diet can be as simple as swapping out items that may be causing your anxiety for those that may alleviate the severity of your symptoms. Instead of bingeing on your favorite comfort foods (which will only make you feel guilty and stressed), consume healthful superfoods with mood-enhancing effects. You’ll feel much better as a result.
Introduce these simple food adjustments into your diet today to start eating foods that help with anxiety and stress:
Research dating back to the 1960s shows that many people with anxiety and depression have a higher rate of folate insufficiency. Asparagus is one vegetable that has a high concentration of this mood-enhancing vitamin. Two-thirds of the daily required folate value is found in just one cup.
Instead of fries, try asparagus spears.
Instead of French fries, serve asparagus as a side dish by sautéing, steaming, or grilling it. If you’re a fan of fries, try dipping cooked asparagus in salsa, hummus, or a bean dip as an alternative.
Vitamin B6 aids various neurotransmitters, releasing serotonin, which has a mood-altering effect. Thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin are B vitamins that have beneficial effects on the nervous system. Vitamin deficiency has been related to greater anxiety in some people. Avocados are high in stress-relieving B vitamins as well as heart-healthy fat, which may aid in anxiety reduction. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps with vision, reproduction, and skin health. It’s also been linked to cognition, and it aids in the widening of blood arteries and the creation of red blood cells. Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, it can only be found in high-fat foods like nuts and avocados.
Instead of ice cream, try a non-dairy frozen avocado treat.
Avocado ice cream, anyone? Yes, you read that correctly. Make your own frozen avocado delight the next time you grab that pint of full-fat, calorie-dense ice cream. Simply combine avocado, ripe banana, vanilla extract, almond milk, and sweetener in a blender. Freeze for a few hours before eating, knowing that you’re boosting your B vitamins at the same time!
Our bodies want vitamin C to help repair and protect our cells when we’re anxious or stressed, and blueberries are high in it. Blueberries are small but mighty, loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, which have been proved to help with anxiety. Antioxidants may be effective for both the prevention and alleviation of anxiety, according to one study that tested the effect that vitamin C supplementation had on anxiety in a group of students.
Instead of sugary sweets, try blueberries.
When you reach for sweets when you’re hungry, your brain works at a lower level, and you’re more likely to experience depression symptoms connected with worry. The sweetness of blueberries is a preferable option since it acts as a good immunity booster; additional sweets disrupt the healthy bacterial balance in the gut, which can lead to anxiety.
Do you know what tryptophan is? After Thanksgiving dinner, it’s the vitamin in turkey that sends you to sleep. It’s a little more than that, to be sure. Tryptophan, an amino acid essential to the body for the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that aids in sleep and mood regulation. Tryptophan, according to the University of Michigan, may aid in the reduction of anxiety.
Instead of fried chicken, try lean turkey.
Doing meal prep ahead of time will help you avoid the temptation of picking up fried chicken on your way home. This way, you can also benefit from the tryptophan in turkey. Fried meals contain bad fats that counteract the benefits of tryptophan, which can help you relax when anxiety is present. Planning a supper with diced turkey, quinoa or brown rice, and some extra veggies will provide a wide range of healthful nutrients while also supporting peaceful sleep.
Researchers have discovered that magnesium deficiency lowers the level of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, suggesting that it treats anxiety-related symptoms. One ounce of almonds (about 12 nuts) contains 75mg of magnesium, which is 19% of the daily required amount. Magnesium is also found in foods like beans, nuts, and avocado.
Almonds instead of cookies as a food swap!
According to one study, eating artery-clogging trans fats like those contained in cookies can increase depression by as much as 48 percent.
Snack on nuts instead of cookies to ensure you’re getting healthy fats and fiber that promote gut health rather than sugar, which disrupts good flora. Instead of reaching for cookies the next time you crave crunch, grab a handful of almonds with dark chocolate if you’re craving something sweet.
You might be shocked to learn that fermented foods, even yogurt, which you might not think of as fermented food, might help you relax. The eating of fermented, probiotic foods has been linked to a reduction in social anxiety.
The best yogurts with “live and active cultures,” such as Greek plain yogurt, have 100 million probiotic cultures per gram, or roughly 25 billion probiotic cultures every cup. Pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso are among other probiotic foods.
Substitute Yogurt for Milk and Cereal
Replace the whole milk in the morning with yogurt. For people with a higher hereditary predisposition of social anxiety, this may have a protective impact.
Excessive dread of being judged, worry about shame or humiliation, or concern about offending someone are all symptoms of social anxiety.
If yogurt isn’t your thing, try a daily sandwich with sauerkraut or a pickle instead.
Miso, a classic Japanese seasoning, can be used in soups and noodle dishes in place of parmesan!