Health & Fitness

Looking For More Natural Ways To Control Anxiety: Explore Your Diet

Looking For More Natural Ways To Control Anxiety: Explore Your Diet

Anxiety and Diet

Photo Compliments of Calvert Cafe & Catering

According to Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D. at the Mayo Clinic, “Coping with anxiety can be a challenge and often requires making lifestyle changes. There aren’t any diet changes that can cure anxiety, but watching what you eat may help.” There is a link between anxiety and diet, but be cautious of claims that certain foods will have a significant impact.

The general consensus in in the medical community is:

  • Eating a balanced breakfast is still a good start to any day. Your breakfast should include some protein. This will help energize you throughout the day and help control anxiety.
  • Complex carbohydrates are thought to increase the amount of serotonin in your brain, which has a calming effect; whole grains, steel cut oatmeal for breakfast is a good example. Stay clear of foods that contain simple carbohydrates, such as sugary foods and drinks.
  • Drink plenty of water; choose water over diet drinks. Even mild dehydration can affect your mood and anxiety level.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol. The immediate effect of alcohol is calming, but as alcohol is processed by your body, it can make you edgy.  Alcohol can also interfere with sleep.
  • Limit or avoid caffeine.  Avoid, or limit caffeinated beverages. They can make you feel jittery and nervous and can interfere with sleep.  Choose to drink water at meals.
  • Eat healthy, balanced meals; 40% of our food budget is spent in restaurants, choose restaurants based on their ability to provide a good salad or steamed vegetables. Eat (5) servings of fresh fruit each day.  Take an apple or banana with you to work.  It may also help to eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, on a regular basis.  A well balanced diet is preferable to supplements.

Anxiety and diet have some connection, but there isn’t a silver bullet in your diet related to anxiety: A well balance diet, exercise (carry a pedometer and make sure you walk more than two miles each day), and reducing the stress from work or home life will make some difference to your general mood or sense of well-being, your anxiety level. These should not be a substitute for treatment.  If your anxiety is severe or interferes with your day-to-day activities or enjoyment of life, you may need medication, counseling (psychotherapy) or other treatment.

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