Stress and anxiety are normal emotions that affect all of us. They are never something to be ashamed of. We all handle our emotions differently. Some people choose to cope by seeing a counselor, taking medication, or even starting a yoga practice. However, one aspect of life that all people can utilize to improve their mood is diet.
Everyone knows eating too much food makes you lethargic, or that caffeine messes with your metabolism. How about processed food affecting your mood? Carbohydrates? Sugar? Read on for tips on how to eat healthier and feel better on a daily basis.
1. Cut the Sweets
Sugar is sweet and delicious in the moment but can contribute to the risk of a panic attack later. Yes, it helps elevate our mood at first, but a sugar rush causes your body to eat up its reserved energy sources, which will eventually cause you to crash. This crash will make you irritable and exhausted, which will worsen the symptoms of anxiety.
If you’re trying to avoid sugar, Erica Hornung, a nutrition supervisor at UPMC Pinnacle suggests eating plenty of carbs, and a protein-rich breakfast to start your day off on the right foot. She says, “Try to stay away from the ‘simple’ carbohydrates like sugary snacks and drinks, as these can cause blood sugar spikes, which will eventually lead to a blood sugar crash and feeling sluggish.”
2. Eat the Berries! (Antioxidant-Rich Foods)
Berries, walnuts, fruits, and beans are all great antioxidant-rich foods that not only taste great, but also help reduce inflammation within the body. According to a study in The Annals of General Psychiatry, anxiety may be linked to low antioxidant levels. So, eating your blueberries, dark chocolate, and kale is a great way to potentially manage stress!
3. Moderate the Caffeine
Caffeine is an absolute must in many of our lives. As busy people, we need that venti latte in the morning to give us the energy to take on the day. Unfortunately, since coffee is a stimulant, it disrupts our body’s natural rhythm.
Caffeine blocks adenosine production, and adenosine makes us feel tired. That means that too much coffee can cause sleeping issues down the road. And a good night’s rest is one of our best defenses against depression and anxiety. Coffee also increases cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for making us feel stressed out. So instead of constantly reaching for a cup of coffee, try grabbing a drink of water. Remaining hydrated will help keep your body awake!
4. Fish and Seeds
Foods full of omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts, seeds, and fish don’t come with the same cardiovascular risks as other protein options. Scientists don’t know why omega-3s reduces anxiety, but they think it may be because they can easily get to the brain, and communicate with mood-regulating hormones.
5. Eat More Probiotics
Research suggests that our stomach’s microorganisms play a role in causing depression and anxiety. This is because the bacteria in our gastrointestinal system sends signals to our central nervous system. Too many harmful bacteria in our stomach can disrupt this communication. Good bacteria, however, can regulate anxiety, and positively influence the brain. You can get probiotics in pill form, but we recommend getting them from kefir or yogurt.
6. Vitamin B
Vitamin B regulates your metabolism, controls the nervous system, and promotes neurotransmitter synthesis. A deficiency in the vitamin B6 can cause insomnia, high levels of stress, depression, and irritability. Try to get your daily dose of B6 by eating citrus fruits, whole grains, and vegetables.
Checking in with your mental health is important. At the end of the day, we each are responsible for making decisions that can put us on the path of good health, happiness, and confidence. Of course, healthy eating alone can’t solve everything. We always recommend checking in with a friend, or doctor if your mental health feels out of control. Diet may not be the only factor but it is one of the greatest tools we have to positively impact our mental health. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and remember you got this!
About the Author: Liz Fé Lifestyle is a digital publication dedicated to empowering Millennial and Gen Z women one inspirational post at a time, covering topics such as wellness, curly girls, travel, and money.
Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash
The opinions and views expressed in this guest blog do not necessarily reflect those of www.rtor.org or its sponsor, Laurel House, Inc. The author and www.rtor.org have no affiliations with any products or services mentioned in this article or linked to herein.
2 thoughts on “How to Use Nutrition to Manage Your Anxiety and Stress”
The food that we eat can have an impact on our stress levels, as you detailed here very well. Hydration is probably the most important way to stay functional, whether at the workplace or on the go, so a bottle or water or two during the day is recommended. While coffee is also important, I agree that it can be a detriment in high volumes.
When it comes to mental health, people always ignore it cause they don’t know how to deal with it or how to talk to others. But even nutrition can play a great role in overall wellbeing. Making slight changes in our diet plan can transform our health immensely. Berries are so good for brain, I just love it.