Did you know that you can use food to calm anxiety, sleep better and improve your mood? Let’s consider these simple steps:
Eat breakfast Every Day
Make it a nurturing habit to eat breakfast every day and include healthy protein to prevent low blood sugar. If you try to eat within one hour of awakening, your food will energize you and set you up for the rest of the day. Low blood sugar can mimic symptoms of anxiety, including feelings of nervousness, shakiness and irritability. Some good breakfast choices include: eggs and sausage; a vegetable omelet; oatmeal (if gluten is not a problem) with nuts, cinnamon and yogurt; or a fruit smoothie with whey protein, berries, almond or coconut milk and water. Everyone feels better with a breakfast like this, whether or not they struggle with anxiety.
Eat 3 Meals and 2 Snacks Every Day
Do you feel shaky and anxious when you wait too long between meals? If so, blood sugar swings may be an issue. When you eat more often, you may notice that you feel better and calmer. The easiest fix is to eat 3 meals and 2 snacks every day – breakfast, lunch and dinner – and snacks mid-morning and mid-afternoon (and some people also enjoy a small snack just before bed). For each meal and snack include a protein, healthy fat and carbohydrate. Some meal ideas can include: grass-fed beef and vegetable stir-fry on brown rice; lamb chops with steamed asparagus, Brussels sprout and carrots, a baked potato; pastured/free-range roast chicken with an assortment of veggies roasted in olive oil. Some perfect snacks include a boiled egg, raw nuts and fruit, raw veggies and hummus, yogurt and berries, and crackers and cheese. Of course vegan choices will vary from this list.
Quit the Sugar
Foods like cookies, candies and soda are empty foods – they don’t provide you with helpful nutrients and actually deplete the nutrients that can calm anxiety and promote good moods. So Quit the Sugar! As your body digests sugary foods you end up depleted of B vitamins, zinc, magnesium and many others. Also when you fill up on sugary foods you then have no appetite for more nutrient-dense foods. Beware of artificial sweeteners as they have their own problems!
Quit the Caffeine
Have your heard that anxiety and panic attacks can be produced by caffeine consumption? Simply eliminating caffeine from your diet may help resolve your anxiety! So that means no coffee, no tea and no sodas – Quit the Caffeine! Try some of the delicious herbal teas such as chamomile, ginger, lemon, licorice and peppermint. You can find some coffee substitutes as well, such as mocha herbal coffee and carob.
Watch for Food Intolerances
Any food can potentially cause a “brain allergy” and make you feel anxious. One major cause of food intolerance can be gluten, which is found in wheat, oats, rye and barley. If you have an intolerance to gluten, you could have anxiety, depression and/or digestive problems as well as other symptoms. Minimize refined, processed and manufactured foods as well. Try keeping a food log and keep track of how you feel after eating certain foods, keeping in mind that your reaction may be delayed by a few days. Try and remove the suspect food and see if you feel better. Eat real whole foods and include lots of plant-based and fiber-rich foods.
Give it a try! Experience how these few simple steps can unleash the amazing healing powers of food – the natural “medicine” for improving your mental and physical health.
Excerpted from “The Antianxiety Food Solution: How The Foods You Eat Can Help You Calm Your Anxious Mind, Improve Your Mood and End Cravings” by Trudy Scott, Certified Nutritionist.