Let’s face it—at some point in time, we’ve all experienced some form of anxiety. Whether it was the first day at a “real” job you landed straight out of college or a first date (cue the sweaty armpits)—we’ve all been there.
If you’ve ever experienced a full-blown anxiety attack, you know these feelings can be significantly amplified. Sweaty palms become the least of your concern when you feel like your chest is caving in and you can barely breathe. The overwhelming feeling of worry associated with an anxiety disorder—coupled with the unfortunate stigma surrounding mental health—may leave you feeling dejected and can interfere with your day-to-day life.
Those suffering from chronic anxiety are certainly not alone. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of mental illness in the United States and affect 18 percent of the nation’s population. Sadly, only one-third of those suffering from anxiety disorders actually seek help.
If you frequently experience anxiety attacks or often feel tense, there are many things you can do to naturally alleviate symptoms of anxiety. Meditating, exercising regularly, and practicing deep breathing techniques are all terrific methods of easing your anxiety—but one thing you may not have considered altering is your diet. Simply put, what you consume can exacerbate your symptoms and leave you feeling more on edge. Cut the following items from your diet and you’ll be well on your way to a calm and worry-free day!
Foods and Beverages to Avoid if You Suffer from Anxiety
Happy hour isn’t so happy after all. A glass of wine after a long work week may seem like the perfect way to ease your tension, but it actually depresses the central nervous system. Alcohol also affects levels of serotonin in the brain—a chemical that naturally stabilizes mood swings.
You may think a double shot of espresso is the only thing keeping you focused in the morning, but caffeine (a major stimulant) can greatly increase your heart rate leading to irritability, nervousness, and agitation. Caffeine can also create a neurotransmitter imbalance by preventing the release of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—an amino acid responsible for calming the nerves. Skip caffeinated drinks and go for a warm cup of herbal tea instead!
Although greasy french fries may seem like *the* perfect remedy for anxiety, fried—and highly processed—foods lack any significant nutritional value and are packed with preservatives, not to mention questionable chemicals. Fried foods are also full of trans-fatty acids which can actually increase depression and anxiety symptoms.
Vitamins and minerals play many roles in the body—one of which is their ability to regulate mood swings and ease an anxious mind. Once you’ve eliminated caffeine and greasy foods from your diet, try eating nutritious meals that are vitamin-rich. Here are 5 mood-boosting foods that are sure to turn your frown upside down!
Calming Foods That Reduce Anxiety
Low levels of folic acid, a vitamin responsible for producing and maintaining cells, have been linked to depression, irregular heartbeat, and mood swings. Asparagus is a great option for obtaining folic acid because it’s low-calorie and contains nearly 134 mcg of folate per six spears!
As if you need another reason to dig into a slice of avocado toast! Not only are avocados rich in B vitamins, they are also high in potassium. Low levels of potassium, a mineral and electrolyte that regulates blood pressure, the nervous system, and the body’s overall pH balance, can lead to anxiety as well as mental fatigue. Desiring a new avocado recipe? Try out this scrumptious avocado noodle bowl!
You’ll agree beans are truly a wonderful fruit once you realize just how good they are at combating anxiety! With 294 mg packed into every cup, black beans are a major source of magnesium. Magnesium is so effective at improving moods because it works to calm the nervous system, lower blood sugar levels, and prevents the adrenal gland from producing excess amounts of cortisol—a major stress hormone. Try this black bean and edamame bowl!
This anxiety fighting superfood is jam-packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, which also help to reduce high levels of cortisol in the body. Throw a handful of blueberries into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or try them in PD’s very own blueberry compote recipe!
Not a fan of asparagus? Spinach, kale, broccoli, and arugula are packed full of B vitamins (folic acid), antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium—the list goes on. So, the next time you’re feeling blue, eat some greens! Why not try them in a delicious green smoothie?
Although a healthier diet can help alleviate symptoms of anxiety and improve your overall mood, it should never be used to replace any prescription medication you are currently taking and should not be used as a substitution for your current treatment plan. If your anxiety symptoms are too severe and interfere with you daily routines, do not hesitate to seek counseling.
Have you tried these calming foods for anxiety relief?
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This article was first published on August 9, 2017.
Photo: Pixabay, Jennifer Kurdyla, Mary Hood Luttrell, Olivia Parr, Jennifer Pham